As an educator, every shooting at a school gets my attention. I wonder when we will start working to fix the problem rather than hoping it will go away.
Yesterday I thought about writing a post focused on classroom shootings, but the day ran away from me, and I wasn’t sure that I was ready to share my thoughts.
It was a double dose of reading that had me thinking about it more than I usually do. First was the story of Riley Howell and his heroic sacrifice to save students in his class at U.N.C. Charlotte. Then I read his Professor’s personal post about the same shooting.
As someone who spends his days in a classroom full of students, I think about the danger they may be in at the start of every class.
At the beginning of every semester, I talk about how my classroom is a safe space for ideas and discussions. We don’t have to all agree or share the same beliefs, but we will respect each other and act accordingly. But, every time I go through this part of my syllabus, in the back of my head I’m also thinking about how and if I’d be able to help make the classroom safe if anyone was to ever come in with the intent to kill and harm.
I didn’t write about this yesterday and then last night I read about another school shooting. I fear that it won’t be the last one before the summer break arrives.
The reality is our kids are stressed out and don’t know how to cope with the world around them. Anger and violence are an out for them, and the tools of destruction are readily available.
I’m not wired like many around me. I think about and plan for the worse every single day. When I walk in a room, I think about the quickest way to get out. I play out scenarios in my head daily on how to react to and deal with any situation that may arise.
The fact that most schools now conduct active shooter drills helps. Kids today know the reality of what may occur in a classroom, movie theater or place of worship. Their parents may not want to face this reality, but children of all ages know it.
Florida is on the verge of allowing teachers to carry in the classroom. I’ve often wondered if I was allowed to if I would or not.
Last week my students were giving final presentations in my classroom. I always sit in the back corner, directly in front of the door. This isn’t by accident or chance. It is because I want to be first to try and help if something horrible were to occur.
We need to help our children cope and deal with reality rather than continually holding their hands and sheltering them. We need common sense gun law changes. We need to plan for the worse and hope for the best. We need classrooms from all levels of education to be safe places for students to struggle, learn and thrive.