There have been many stories such as this one, but it has been on my mind and I need to get it out there.
Schools have to have drills of all sorts: Tornado, active shooter, lock-down, shelter-in-place, earthquake, fire, and I’m sure there are some I’ve never heard of yet to mention.
Yesterday, we had our monthly fire drill. It’s routine. The students know what to do. Staff know what to do. It rings, we lineup, promptly leave and go to our designated place. It is something students have been doing all year and something those of us in education have been doing for many years.
This one felt different though.
Although I knew it was a drill. My students did exactly what they were supposed to do. But…I was uneasy as we left the building. This time I was wondering if we were safe going out since there had been a possible threat against charter schools. I found myself being more hyper vigilant in looking around as we exited the building. Trying to see if there were people in any of the cars around campus. Did anything seem out-of-place? Where do I herd the students if shots are fired? What’s our closest exit or shelter?
Mind you, I’ve always been aware of our surroundings while outside, and even while inside. The difference was the feeling, not the actions.
This feeling hasn’t been localized to my own campus. I was on a different campus this past week. While there I became aware that I was looking to see where the safe spots might be. Where would students exit? Where would I exit? Where were the major “danger” zones? And similar questions. Again, not my usual thoughts while on a school campus.
Many are saying the Parkland High School shooting was different. Although we’ve had way too many school shootings, this one is different somehow. The rhetoric doesn’t seem all that different. The posturing by politicians doesn’t seem all that different. The side-taking, those saying we need more guns not more regulations, the conspiracy theories, and such doesn’t seem all that different.
So, what is it?
I’ve not been able to answer this question yet for myself. Hopefully I’ll have an epiphany soon, or someone will have a great answer that will resonate for me.
Although I obviously and most certainly worry about my students and my own school-aged children, I’m also worried about my colleagues and fellow educators. What is this doing to our psyche’s? What will be the proverbial straw that breaks our backs? How do we support one another without getting so mired in worry we become stuck in that worry? How do we not become apathetic to the situations we are facing as educators? What will the future of education be if colleagues become armed? Do I want my own children to be in a school in which teachers are armed, and if not, where will they go?
Only time will tell.
As you look at the following political cartoon and the short, and definitely not all encompassing, list of what educators are responsible to do essentially each and every day, think about that one teacher who helped you feel you mattered. Then, make sure to take a moment to thank that teacher if possible, or any teacher, even if you don’t have a child in school. Take a moment to reach out and let us know you appreciate the positive effect we have on society as the protectors of children.
A little goes a long way with a teacher.