A Student Teacher’s Response

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.

2 thoughts on “A Student Teacher’s Response

  1. Various people had suspicions about the shooter before hand. Evidently he expressed some of his anger quite openly. I think schools can use this information. For instance when teachers have suspicions about particular individuals, they can relay that information to the school authorities and they could even set up a task force, if need be, for teachers to share updated information about particular students who could afterwards be discreetly monitored more carefully. Sadly, it seems that everybody knew the Florida man was dangerous but there was no concerted effort to monitor him or to help him either.

    There’s even a potential to help severely troubled students by intervening before they go off the deep end. People should take some comfort, also, in realizing that the actual odds of being a victim in a school shooting are quite low. The media tends to focus on these events in ways that magnify their impact. Journalism has long had the sinister motto of “if it bleeds it leads,” and we need to put these tragedies into perspective if we want a solution. Putting it into perspective doesn’t diminish the tragedy, but rational thinking can help local educators come up with focused solutions school by school.

    1. Thank you for your feedback! I know most schools do the best they can but the unfortunate reality is that a majority of American schools are understaffed and over populated so really the teachers’ best efforts may not be enough. There are protocols in place for when they have suspicions but unfortunately after the student is referred to the schools counselor they’re not always updated on what is being done.
      I completely agree that some rational thoughts need to be made in helping all educators and administrators come up with solutions, solutions that work for schools and districts alike.

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