For days, I’ve tried to put together a post on the recent school shooting. I started to write…then deleted my post…started again…only to delete – My emotions, mostly sadness and frustration, have prevented me from doing what I love most – writing –
As a teacher and a mom of two school-aged children, I’ve been at a loss for words. I can’t believe school shootings are still happening. Even more frustrating, I don’t have the solution. The issue is, there is no “one” solution. There are so many variables – it’s complicated – guns, mental illness, anger issues, lack of school security – I don’t know – honestly – I just don’t.
In the aftermath of Parkland, I have read numerous articles, blog posts, Instagram posts, and watched many news segments. I have read the cruel and insensitive comments on social media from the keyboard warriors. I have read the heart breaking stories from families of the victims – I have also read some really interesting, intelligent, and well-written pieces.
I’ve struggled to write this -mostly due to the backlash – but mostly, I’ve struggled to write because my post won’t be any different from what has already been said. And a lot has been said.
I am writing mostly to be a voice – a voice for parents and teachers – a voice for the students and teachers that are anxious to go to school – and a voice to say – we CAN’T forget about this in a week, a month, a year – we can’t sit back and add this shooting to the list –
I am writing because, sitting behind a computer screen clicking “share” is much different than actually sitting at a teacher desk looking around your classroom wondering…
“Where would I hide my 28 kids?” “Could I protect my students?” “What would I actually do?”
I’ve thought about it…I know the drills – I know “what to do” – but will it be enough?
Instead of writing – I read – I read articles suggesting teachers can, “simply arrange” classrooms differently. Another article talked about a teacher who has students write notes on Fridays about who they would like to sit with the following week or a classmate they would want to get to know better. The teacher studies the notes over the weekend to identify struggling students or “loners” – It’s a sweet idea – and it may work for some grade levels – but aren’t teachers already aware of their struggling students or loners – isn’t that already in their instinctual teacher super powers? It seems teachers should add therapist, psychologist, and mind reader to their already extensive list of responsibilities and unrealistic expectations.
I don’t have the answers — it seems nobody has answers — and since Columbine, the only thing that has changed is an increase in the amount and type of drills conducted on a monthly basis, and an alarming increase in the amount of school shootings.
I am just like every other frustrated teacher and I’m just like every other worried parent — praying Parkland doesn’t happen in our community.
How cliche? Hoping and praying doesn’t prevent school shootings. Hoping and praying doesn’t stop tragedy, but change could. I just don’t know what that change is.
I’m just like every other teacher, hoping I never have to make the split second decision to take a bullet for my students; I’m just like every parent, praying that there is a teacher that would take a bullet for my children.
I became a teacher, to teach. What I didn’t realize, like most teachers, was that we signed up for much more.
But now, I AM the parent –the completely and utterly terrified parent.
I am the parent that does not want to accept, this is my child’s reality. This generation will never know a time when schools didn’t have police presence, student IDs, locked doors, shelter in place drills, lockdown drills, and evacuation drills. A generation that is becoming desensitized to the tragedies despite the outrage and upset — a tragedy that could happen in their community.
I am the parent who listens to her 5-year old say, “I hid in the closet today at school and I had to be really quiet.” I know this is a lockdown drill. A drill that could potentially save her life, her classmates, and teachers during an active shooter situation.
I am the parent whose mind flashes to Sandy Hook as my daughter nonchalantly discusses her lockdown drill — Remember Sandy Hook? Remember those poor babies? BABIES…teachers desperately trying to save those babies…and nothing has changed. Not. One. Thing.
I am the parent who listens as her 7-year old calmly tells her, “Mommy, we heard that somebody bad got into a school and hurt 17 people and they died.” My heart aches as I watch her sweet innocence slipping away — she doesn’t completely understand the enormity of the situation — and for that I am thankful — yet in her adorable little voice, she reassured me she feels safe at school. Thank you to those amazing teachers for making our babies feel safe in a world where nobody is safe.
I am the parent that remembers BEFORE Columbine – before police presence was the norm in schools, before locked doors, security drills, and students IDs.
I am the parent that wants to scream in frustration and sadness. What can we do? How can we change this?
I am the parent who longs to tell her daughters that it will never happen at their school, but I can’t make that promise. None of us can.
I am the parent who picks up her daughters at dismissal and mentally inspects the doors, the school, and the safety measures.
I am the parent that prays it never happens, but I AM the teacher that knows it can.
I am the parent AND I am the teacher that cries after another senseless school shooting.
How many more “new realities” must we accept before there are actual changes?
School shootings keep happening and when they do, social media accounts and Instagram feeds will be filled with – “Pray for ______”.
Educators are learning not only how to be a better teacher, but how to be a protector of students in the event of an active shooter. It isn’t just about education. It’s about safety and accountability. In the aftermath of Parkland, I think…could I do what these brave teachers,HEROES, did? Could I shield my students? Could I take a bullet?
Isn’t that what is silently expected of teachers?
I am the teacher and I am the parent that is PROUD.
Proud of the students that are speaking up.
Proud of the students for saying enough is enough.
Proud of the students that want to change their reality.
Proud of the students that won’t accept this as their reality.