Teaching with Lockdown Drills


Lockdown drills are exercises students and educators practice in the event that an intruder gains access to the school building or a threat is administered. These drills have the goal of removing students and school staff from the threat and keeping the threat isolated from as many areas of the school as possible. They are required by many states due to the increase in school shootings nationwide. Each school and state performs lockdown drills differently. Some schools administer active shooter drills, either announced or unannounced, while other schools stick with classroom door lockdown drills without any simulation. With educators using these resources to learn about how to teach more effectively with lockdown drills, students will be more prepared for the drills and hopefully feel more comfortable with how they should act during these drills or in a real situation where a lockdown is necessary!


There are many resources available online for teaching with lockdown drills. Most of the resources below focus on lockdown drills that do not include a simulation of an active shooter, which most believe to be more effective and significantly less traumatic than active shooter drills. However, if your school requires active shooter drills and you would like to learn how to teach more effectively with them, check out this classroom practice on Teaching with Active Shooter Drills


How to Talk with Students About Lockdown Drills

  1. Lockdown Anxiety – Teachers Talk About How to Explain Drills and Calm Kids’ Fears: Because many students have anxiety about lockdown drills, Scholastic has an article where teachers talk about how to explain the drills to students and calm their fears. Both teachers and psychologists weigh in on how to explain what is happening, strategies to get kids’ cooperation, and how to talk about it afterwards. A separate section is provided for educators teaching students in grades K-2, 3-6, and 7-12 because different approaches will work best for different ages. 
  2. Talking With Kids About Lockdown Drills: School Safety Solution provides a brief blog post on talking with kids about lockdown drills. The author is a former elementary school teacher who discusses how she explained lockdown drills to her first-grade classes and how she answered the question, “But why do we need to have a lockdown drill?” For educators who are teaching students of very young ages, this post may offer some tips on how to have an effective, age-appropriate lockdown drill conversation.
  3. Teaching Your Children About School Lockdown Drills: Verywell Family has published an article on teaching children about school lockdown drills. Though this resource was created with parents in mind, it may still be useful to educators who are trying to educate themselves about the types of safety drills used in schools, defensive vs. run and hide strategies, and what parents and schools can do about school safety.

Impact and Effectiveness of Lockdown Drills

  1. How Classroom Door Lockdown Drills Save Students and Teachers’ Lives: Fighting Chance Solutions provides an article on how classroom door lockdown drills save students and teachers’ lives. The topics touched upon include how classroom locker drills help, criticisms on classroom door lockdown drills, what you need to know about classroom lockdown drills, and how parents can help improve classroom door lockdowns. A four-minute video on how these drills save lives is also included at the beginning of the article. For educators who are interested in the pros and cons of classroom door lockdown drills in particular, this resource will be very helpful!
  2. The Impact of School Safety Drills for Active Shootings: Everytown for Gun Safety has published an article on the impact of school safety drills for active shootings. This article is split up into an introduction on the drills and their impact, key findings from studies of drills, and recommendations on how to handle drills from Everytown, AFT, NEA, and other organizations.
  3. How Effective Are School Lockdown Drills?: npr provides an article on the effectiveness of school lockdown drills. The author talks about how here is little research that can answer what types of school security systems actually work, discusses how to best help schools make informed choices with this lack of research, and explains how lockdowns, when well executed, can slow a gunman.
  4. Lockdowns – Good or Bad?: The Mass General Hospital Clay Center offers an article discussing the facts about school shootings, the connection some have made between safety drills and existing disaster protocols, what types of drills are too much, and how to discuss these issues with younger and older children.

How to Navigate the Psychological Effects of Lockdowns

  1. Mitigating Psychological Effects of Lockdowns: The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) offers information on mitigating the psychological effects of lockdowns. The article explains how planning is critical and offers guidance on what to do before, during, and after a lockdown. In addition, there are related resources and references at the bottom for educators who want to learn more about talking to children about violence, school crisis prevention and intervention, etc. 

Informational Sites

  1. Lockdown Drills at Your Child’s School: Verywell Family provides information about lockdown drills at school. Again, though this resource was created with parents in mind, parts of the article, especially on reasons, planning, procedures, and student coping, may still be useful to educators and/or students. 
  2. How to Create a School Lockdown Procedure: The CIE Group has put together an abundance of information on school lockdowns and how to create a school lockdown procedure. Specifically, the article discusses what a school lockdown means, why we have school lockdown procedures, the general procedure for school lockdowns with warning, the general procedure for school lockdowns with intruder, and the general procedures for alternative lockdown situations.


Teaching with lockdown drills may be a difficult task for many necessary, but it is necessary in order to keep students and school staff safe in the event of a threat or an intruder in the building. It is always important to consider how these drills could negatively impact students, especially those who are young or more prone to anxiety, but there is much less controversy on standard lockdown drills in schools than active shooter drills, so if presented in the right way students should be less emotionally and mentally affected by these drills than the alternative. However, still watch for any students who are having difficulty coping with the drills or the conversations about school violence that may arise in the classroom!