The events that occurred in Florida this past week have been looming over me, and I was very hesitant to write this post about it but the reality is that this is the world we live in and I have to face the facts. As a student teacher, getting ready to have my own classroom has become a scarier thought because the reality is that there are bigger and badder risks that come along with being a teacher these days.
I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, there have been minor thoughts of different careers along the way, but becoming a teacher was always there. Playing school was one of my favorite things to do and I dreamed of having an overhead projector to play school with (do people even know what these are anymore?). But with these dreams of overhead projectors came an understanding that I would become a pseudo-mom for each one of my students, yet not once did I think caring for them may occur during their or my last moments on Earth. That’s a scary thought, a realization that nobody wants to make.
I’ve read countless articles this past week about people’s views, accounts of the incident, letters from teachers around the country, and texts that have been exchanged between students and their family members in what they thought could be the last time they talk, and it’s horrifying. Is it possible that I could be faced with this fear in my future career?
Of course it’s possible, and that’s why we practice “lockdown drills”. Drills that cause endless fear in our young students or create a mockery from older students, drills that will never allow us to understand what the students and teachers at Stoneman Douglas High School went through this past week. An event that will change that community forever, an event that should have never occurred.
I read a great article that has resonated with me all week and would likely do the same with every student in a teacher preparation program or current teacher. It is so well written that I would like to share parts with you:
“I know that you did not become a teacher so that you could be an expert in security codes and evacuation protocols. I know you did not think being a teacher was a life-and-death profession.”
“That you would suspiciously listen to the intercom every time it crackled into life, holding your breath, waiting for the words that would alert you to a violent situation. I know you are an expert at projecting a calm face and voice when your heart is leaping with fear, at continuing with a lesson when your hands are shaking with anxiety… as you protect the children in your class who are no less your [own]. I know that you would do anything to keep them calm and safe. I know that your heart is breaking and—at the same time—swelling for the love you have for your students.”
I have witnessed too many events like Florida’s in my short 21 years on this planet. The 27 lives from—the first one I can vividly recall—Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT matter. The 17 lives from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL matter. Schools are supposed to be safe places where students go to be engaged in learning—every student has the right to that safe learning environment and until something is done to change what is going on in our country we are obstructing that right.
*Disclaimer: I am only saying that things need to change, I am not stating what I believe should be done.