How Did We Get Here?

Teacher’s Viral TikTok Shows How She Prepares Students To “Fight” During Active Shooter Lockdown

“Backpacks, books, bottles, and bat.”

A teacher and TikToking mom has gone viral for sharing the lockdown drills she teaches her class to ...

With mass shootings making heartbreaking headlines (along with a continued lack of legislation), taking kids to school can feel more like dropping them off at the Hunger Games than at a safe place. Parents are buying bulletproof backpacks. Some fear that if their kid is "the bad kid," a teacher might be less inclined to help them during a lockdown. Families are pulling their kids out of traditional school and choosing to homeschool at rates never seen before. And as hard as parents have it, teachers are struggling, too.

Not only are we seeing an exodus of educators, but we're also seeing the teachers who do stay juggling lesson plans and bathroom passes while trying to think of new ways to keep our kids safe (read: keep them alive). Many educators are even turning to TikTok to share their own lockdown procedures in the hope that it helps other teachers and students — and a substitute teacher who runs the TikTok account @LearningFromOurPast has gone viral for doing precisely that.

A mix of brilliant and alarming, the now-viral video walks through the assembly line procedures she teaches her students in addition to the standard protocol.

"Backpacks, books, bottles, and bat. That's how we practiced lockdown drills when I had my own classroom," she explains. "We practiced as if it were real. ... Why are we sitting in a corner hiding? It's not gonna work. They come in [and] we're just a bunch of targets. Target practice."

She explains that one of her former students told her he was at the top of a "hit list" because kids hated him so much. Aside from the absolutely horrifying and gut-wrenching fact that kids think creating a hit list is OK, the video highlights that not all school shootings are random.

If a student is attempting to find someone on their "list," they know the school's schedule and that student's schedule. Hiding in a dark classroom will not keep anyone safe, especially in the all-too-real scenario where the school shooter is specifically looking for someone in that classroom.

So, this teacher taught her students how to fight back.

She starts by having her students put their backpacks on the front of their bodies — "whoever was closest to the cupboard with the textbooks started an assembly line, passing them out." She explains that having the textbooks on the front of their bodies would help protect their vital organs.

The students then get their water bottles, which are primarily made of metal now, and hold them above their heads. That way, when the shooter enters, they're ready to throw.

As for the teacher herself, she would be poised and ready by the door to try to knock an active shooter off balance. "I had a bat, a softball bat because it's metal, ready to aim low at the door. Ready. Aim low. Ideally, they buckle over. Ideally, the weapon falls out of their hands," she says. "Someone always volunteers to go kick the weapon out of the way. Secure that. Great."

If this all sounds terrifying, well, it's because it is. However, it's also the reality we live in here in the U.S., where gun violence is an epidemic. According to USA Today, the number of kids killed or injured by guns in 2022 was the most on record in a single year since the Gun Violence Archive began tracking data almost a decade ago. And according to The Washington Post, 2022 was the worst year for school shootings "by nearly every meaningful measure."

"We're fighting for our lives here," LearningFromOurPast added in the video. "I'm not dying in the classroom, and neither are you. So, if we do, we're gonna go down with a fight. But, ideally, the fight will prevent [dying].

Her advice if it's lunch or some other period when they're more out in the open? Run. No holds barred. No asterisks. If you think there is danger and you're in the open, you run.

She's not the only teacher taking lockdown measures into her own hands, either. All across social media, you can find educators sharing their advice for keeping classrooms safe during an active shooter scenario. The comments section on LearningFromThePast's post was full of tips as well.

"I had this teacher who was an absolute genius. During lockdown drills, she would put a sign on the door that said, ‘Class in auditorium today,’” shared a commenter named Lucy. (That works great as long as the shooter hasn't been in said teacher’s class.)

"I work at a preschool. Every room has a door going outside. Our drill has all the rooms leaving the building," said commenter AnderSam.

Another teacher on TikTok, Christina Himelhoch, posted recently about hiding her classroom of five-year-olds in a closet, trying to keep them quiet, attempting to explain why it was necessary, and thinking through whether or not she could get them out a tiny window in the closet.

All over TikTok, there are tips about belts or fire hoses on the arms of doors to keep them closed. Teachers share the curtains they make for door windows so they can drop them down in an emergency. And people talk about their own strategies for getting relatively safe when an armed intruder enters school.

Because this is America, and this is how we educate children — between active shooter drills and school lockdowns. This is the kind of sh*t our teachers (and kids) have to worry about now.