Tag Archives: shelter drills

Empathy, Dialogue and Trust: Talking About School Shootings With Our Students

Doug Hecklinger and Renee Dinnerstein in conversation

In the 1950’s, when I attended public school, it was a short time after WWII. The United States was in the midst of the Cold War with the USSR. I remember periodic shelter drills, when we would scrunch under our desks, pretending that we were being bombed. These shelter drills seemed to me like  strange and scary play activites.




When I began teaching in 1968 we had similar drills. Teachers took the children into the hallway, warned them to be silent, and instructed them to sit on the floor. As a new teacher, I was annoyed by the waste of time and for the possibility of frightening children. 




Now, in 2022, there’s an unfortunate and harsh reality to shelter drills. They are truly necessary and more tied to reality than they ever should be. However, it’s no longer a bomb that threatens school children. It is a threat from within our own society. It is the reality of someone entering a school building carrying rifles and assault weapons. 

How does this threat affect teachers, children and families?

Today I spoke with Doug Hecklinger, a dedicated and thoughtful fourth grade teacher at P.S. 295, a New York City public school. He had some very important suggestions for teachers and families.

I hope that you will share your ideas with our community by commenting on the blog. This is a serious conversation that truly and sadly cannot be avoided.