What It's Like To Be A Future Teacher Thinking About School Shootings

What It's Like To Be A Teacher-In-Training In A Country That Can't Stop School Shootings

For most of us, school shootings are tragedies that we hear or see on the news, but for teachers, it is a reality.

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The rate of school shootings has risen 59% since records of shootings began in 1970. Me personally, I believe in the right to bear arms but under the right circumstances as well as after going through the proper training and certification. Of the 97 shooting in 2018, 56 people lost their lives; teachers, Children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and everything in between. As someone whose mother is a teacher, it is terrifying to think that at any moment someone could walk in and start shooting. I soon realized that even though I was scared for her, that she had to be scared for the twenty-something children in her classroom whom she is responsible for. What goes through a teachers mind when they hear about school shootings?

I was recently talking to my roommate, who is an education major, and we started talking about school shootings so I decided to ask her some questions about how school shootings have affected her.

As an education major, what goes through your mind when you hear about school shootings?

"That might be me one day, and as hard (and sad) as it is to think about it, that's the reality of the world we live in. I am going to be responsible for two-dozen children who aren't even old enough to multiply yet."

Was the thought of a school shooting happening to you something that factored into your decision to become a teacher?

"When I went into education, it wasn't a thought that crossed my mind. You don't want to think about stuff like that, and especially that it could happen to you. Even after I decided to become a teacher, the thought of someone shooting up the school didn't make me not want to do what I loved 'Don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game'"

When did you realize that school shootings were a possibility?

"After the Florida school shooting in 2016, I had just changed my major to education and I started thinking like, what would I do if that happened? How would I react? But it wasn't until I was a student teaching this semester that the reality really set in. We had a shooting drill where we, me, the teacher, and the students, had to hide behind the teacher's desk in the corner.

"Even though it was only practice, some of the kids were still scared and as I was comforting them I started thinking, what if this actually happened? Would I be able to comfort them the same way I am now? Would I be able to protect all of them? Would I be able to react fast enough? You can try and mentally prepare yourself for something like that but it is totally different when you see the fear and confusion on the kid's faces, even just in a drill."

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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Having Guns Around Doesn't Make Me Feel Safe

Officials want to have laws that put guns in every place that I am supposed to feel safe, and yet, in every place there is a gun, I feel scared.

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According to SB 7030 (which must be passed by the House to be written into law), Florida teachers will be able to carry firearms under the "Armed Guardians" program. Teachers must undergo a psychological evaluation and training program to be able to carry their gun and districts must approve the program to introduce the program to the teachers, staff, students, and parents.

SB 7030 was introduced after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February of last year and had a total of twenty-two to seventeen votes to pass to the House. It would offered in applicable school districts and teachers would volunteer to take part in the program (including evaluations and training).

Although there has been eight school shootings since January 1, 2019, and there were twenty-four school shootings in 2018 (328 mass shootings total - almost one every day of the year) and according to the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, there were 94 school shootings involving guns - which is an increase of 59% since 2006 and a record high since 1970.

Officials want to have laws that put guns in every place that I am supposed to feel safe, and yet, in every place, there is a gun, I feel scared.

Elementary school is when I started learning about Code Red drills. In fifth grade, I remember hearing the principal announce a code red, and every child in my class rushing to the back of the classroom, voices completely silent. Soon, every drill was standard - once a month: fire drill, code red, lock-downs - and you don't think much of the threats that are "supposedly" in place.

Sandy Hook is the first time that I felt threatened in a school. In 2012, I was in eighth grade, halfway through the year and getting ready to move into high school - it's scary enough to be a freshman, I didn't think that this was something I would have to be worried about.

Our classrooms had the news on immediately - and I remember not learning much in history that morning, because really, I was watching history happen, and I would remember it. I remember everyone being silent, as every hour more children were being put into the hospital - or worse, their faces were on the television because their lives were lost to a someone with a gun. I remember someone saying, "Our parents saw Columbine happen, and now we're watching Sandy Hook. Kids are going to have this in a history book."

Kids are going to have this in a history book.

I sat in a classroom and watched twenty-six partners, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, learn that their spouse, their six and seven-year-old children had died by a human being with a rifle.

In my freshman year of college, a concert in Las Vegas became the deadliest mass shootings in United States history.

In my freshman year of college, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a high school three hours away from Orlando, became the place of one of the deadliest school shootings in United States history.

Seventeen students and faculty killed.

I have a younger brother. He's seventeen. He's going to be a senior in high school this year.

I don't understand how we are continuing to have this conversation.

I don't understand how after children are being murdered, there is no discussion on how to make gun control a priority.

I don't understand how the government can claim themselves to be "pro-life" when they aren't saving the lives that are going to be the future of this country that everyone believes to be so great.

I don't understand how abortions are becoming illegal faster than an assault rifle.

I am sick of this. I am sick of having to fight with adults about how a gun, how an automatic weapon that can kill dozens of innocent children and adults in minutes is not banned.

I don't feel safe. I don't feel secure.

I don't feel like my professor is going to be able to kill an armed shooter in a nanosecond when they start shooting in a classroom.

I don't feel like one training is going to be enough.

I don't feel like psychological testing is enough.

I. Don't. Feel. Safe.

I don't care about how much you need a gun. I don't care how you think that the Constitution is right.

THE CONSTITUTION WAS WRITTEN BY MEN THAT HAD TO RELOAD THEIR GUNS WITH EVERY BULLET. THEY DIDN'T HAVE BUMP-STOCKS THAT ALLOW A SEMI-AUTOMATIC TO BECOME AN AUTOMATIC AND MURDER FIFTY-EIGHT PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE OF A CONCERT.

I, literally, don't care.

I refuse to be in a classroom where there are guns. I refuse to be in a place where any individual can carry a gun, with the possibility that there was no psychological testing and safety training. I refuse to be in a society where mass shootings have become so normal, that we are almost immune to seeing that there was an act of gun violence anywhere.

Only mass shootings in schools, religious sanctuaries, and public places are publicly announced, too.

Our society's media sources don't discuss how many suicides are completed by guns. Outlets don't discuss how easy it is for someone that is mentally unstable to access and buy firearms.

Once a mass shooting occurs, everyone wants to blame the mental illness and create such a stigma around mental health that you can't even mark down that you have a mental illness without "warning" employers of possible instability.

STOP USING MENTAL ILLNESS AS AN EXCUSE FOR SICK AND TWISTED INDIVIDUALS TO USE WEAPONS AND KILL PEOPLE.

NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT THIS.

I don't care what you think the Second Amendment is trying to say.

It's outdated. It's an excuse to continue using weapons that are created for mass destruction and shouldn't be in an environment that is meant to be a safe space.

We can agree. We can disagree. However, I think that everyone should come to a common ground in believing that there is something wrong with the system. How is there ever an opportunity for someone to use a semi-automatic rifle? How is there ever use for a rifle that can kill dozens of individuals - children - at a time?

Don't have an answer?

Good. It's because there isn't one.

Our government uses the Constitution as an excuse to have ugly behavior. Our government claims to be "pro-life" but won't take away the thing that kills thousands of people every year. Our government claims to have the interest of the people but takes no precaution to listen to what the people want.

I'm scared of guns. I'm scared of people who have guns. I don't feel safe where there are guns around.

Guns don't and won't ever make me feel safe.

One could hope that someone is finally going to realize that.

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