Profs discuss classroom crisis training

jackie.stark and jackie.stark

When Laura Soldner, an NMU English professor, entered her classroom in 1990, she wasn’t surprised to see a student resting her head on the desk.

Soldner greeted the student, who didn’t respond, and Soldner assumed the student was asleep.

When it was time for class to begin, Soldner tapped the student on the arm to wake her up.

The student slumped to the floor.

Soldner quickly called Public Safety and the student was rushed to the hospital.

“I was calm when it happened,” Soldner said. “But it shook me up later. The whole class was upset.”

The student was unconscious due to a preexisting medical condition, and was later released from the hospital.

It is incidents like these that will be covered during “Classroom Preparedness,” a campus-wide discussion at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17 in Whitman Commons. The event, hosted by the Teaching and Learning Advisory Counsel (TLAC), will be mediated by Barb Coleman, a Physical Education and Health professor.

“The discussion will range from sexual harassment to health emergencies,” she said. “It should be a lively discussion.”

During the discussion, audience members will be encouraged to ask a panel of Northern faculty members questions and share their own stories concerning unusual classroom situations.

Coleman has received e-mails from faculty requesting that the topics of fire alarms, chemical spills and health emergencies be discussed at the forum.

“It’s always different when something actually happens,” she said. “It’s good to review policies.”

The discussion will focus on preventative measures, so that some situations can be avoided.

“Something as simple as grabbing your keys during a fire alarm or knowing where the nearest phone is can be important,” she said.

Coleman said she has dealt with her own classroom emergencies that make her qualified to mediate the discussion.

In her class, a student stood up and began shouting obscenities at Coleman. The student needed Coleman’s class to graduate, but the class was full and Coleman wouldn’t add him. When Coleman tried to calm him down, the student grew angrier.

She eventually removed the student from the classroom.

“I want to start a dialogue,” she said. “I want to get people thinking and talking, to make them aware of their resources.”

Soldner said that people of any profession should be trained in CPR, a topic that will be addressed at the forum.

“It’s good for us to know the best way to respond,” she said.

It’s not just faculty that should know these things, Coleman added, students should also be involved. Faculty and students are both encouraged to attend.

“The discussion is going to get people thinking about solutions, knowing about resources and sharing experiences,” Coleman said.