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Tomorrow morning I’ll bike to school like I always do. I’ll park by my classroom, unlock the outside door, and head into the indoor hallway. I’ll hear other English teachers leading their lessons, and I’ll peek inside to see the 7th grade faces. As I near my classroom, I’ll hear the chatter from the Spanish room across the hall.
I’ll turn the lock in my metal door, and note the metal plate where the glass window used to be. When it was first replaced I was annoyed not to be able to see out, but now, I just see it as a safety measure.
I’ll pull back the curtains and gaze out at the front entrance of the school, happy to have the sunlight stream in, but knowing that if a gunman comes on campus, mine is the first room he will see.
You see, after 25 years of teaching, this is my new normal. I’m not paranoid, and I’ve never been shot at. But I have, like everyone else in education, been traumatically impacted by the increasing terror in our schools. Click To Tweet I’ve seen school shootings go from being unheard of to something ‘that happens’. I’ve taught the drills and practiced the procedures for keeping my students – and me – safe. And I’ve been locked down, on the floor, with students when we thought their was an armed intruder on campus last year.
I’ve written and pleaded and donated and debated the issue of gun control and school safety. I’ve cried and contemplated how I can trust that my own children will be safe on their high school and college campuses, and wondered how long can I last in a profession where I feel the mounting anxiety of wondering when it will be my turn, when will it be our unlucky day?
It just shouldn’t be this way.
American is smarter than this. We should be able to come together as a country to dispel the mythology of gun violence, to formulate a plan to examine the data and disaggregate the findings. We should be able to compromise and create laws to reduce the gun violence in our country – to protect our children from dying in our schools.
Teachers shouldn’t have to worry that some politician or school board is going to require us to be armed. Is that going to be the new trend in professional development? Click To TweetWill teachers have to spend out of pocket, like they do for everything else, to learn how to use a firearm? Will it become part of the certification process required for all new teachers?
And will we create new positions on campus to monitor firearms, like we’ve created to manage our new technology? Will there be a ‘gun cart’ in our classrooms that we can pick up and return our firearms when our teaching day is over?
I want to hear more dialogue. I want our country to think, pair, and share their ideas – as ‘outside of the box’ as we can get. I want our country to research, to collaborate, to question, to inquire. I want to be able to walk into my classroom and not wonder if today is going to be the unlucky day.
I want our country to show they care about our children and our teachers and stop this violence.
I want to go back to my old ‘normal’. Today.