Oh, you should have seen the look on their faces when I got there... Priceless. (This is good. It means they know I'll enforce rules. Ernesto groaned. "We won't be allowed to talk.")
The assignment: write book reports for the books they were reading last time.
We went over the book report form. I gave them some time to "discuss". Then, just as I was about to call for silence, the fire alarm went off.
"Fire alarm? We have to evacuate." Ernesto was eager to go. In fact, in less than a minute, the entire class was gone.
I lingered. First, I needed to grab the class roster and the evacuation envelope. Second, most of the classes in my immediate vicinity weren't evacuating. This wasn't the school with the fire alarm glitch, but I recognized the lack of movement. Sure enough, other teachers were urging everyone to get back inside.
(The PA speaker in the classroom was broken. A neighboring teacher told me the "do not evacuate" announcement had been made.)
It wasn't long before kiddos returned. All of them. There's a point when it's obvious that the alarm was false.
Ernesto: "Why are you angry? It wasn't our fault..."
Funny that he would think me angry. At that point, I was just trying to get their attention back so that I could get them back to the task at hand.
At least they got a bit of a break before they had to buckle down and get to work.