I was scrolling through my newsfeed and came across a post that read, “6-year-old shoots a teacher.” At first, my jaw dropped. What do you mean a 6-year-old shot their teacher? What? Was it an accident? There’s no way this happened.
And then I clicked on the article and realized that this wasn’t an accident; it was intentional. There were warning signs from the student that the teachers made the administration aware of. But the administration did nothing about it. So, a tragedy happened.
Essentially, because the administration didn’t immediately stop the student, a teacher was shot.
As a future educator, this scares the living shit out of me.
I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was in 3rd grade. The idea of having my own classroom and being a safe place for students has always sounded incredible to me. School is supposed to be a safe place where students can go and know they’re protected under any circumstances.
Only, that’s not the case. Over the years, this world has become dark and scary. Students are used to school shooting drills and learning what to do if there is a shooter in the building. It’s gotten to the point where students are scared to wear light-up sneakers because they don’t want to be noticed in case a shooter enters the building. And the saddest thing is, we’re not finding the shooters to be weird, sick people (even though they are). More often than not, they’re people these kids know. People they interact with on a daily basis. And it’s gotten to the point where it’s the child that could be sitting right next to them every day at school.
The other day at work, I was coming back from bus duty and saw a couple of kids running. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I then saw a larger group of kids, along with their teacher, running after these other kids, and my heart skipped a beat.
We’re not allowed to run in my school. So, the first thought that went through my head was, “Is there a shooter in the building?”
My heart fell to my stomach until I realized that the kids were just having a good time with their teacher at the end of the day. But my heart was still pounding.
Do we not realize how bad this has gotten?
We have educators who flinch at the loudspeaker announcements going off during the day. Our eyes grow wide when we hear a loud noise in the hallway. And we pray that the loud noise we heard was just something falling and nothing more. We check our rooms to make sure we have safe hiding spots to hide our students in the event of a lockdown. And we brace ourselves for the day when we might have to be the shield between our students and a bullet.
I saw a quote that said, “ I love my students, but I will not love my students to death.” And I think that really speaks volumes here. As a country, we undervalue teachers. We’re ridiculed, underpaid, and expected to protect our students to the brink of death. And, on top of that, we’re told, “Grow up. You signed up for this.”
Well, I don’t remember taking a class called “School Shooter 101.”
We sign up to be teachers to teach, support, and love kids. We don’t sign up to become bulletproof vests.
And that’s what we’re forced to become.
I’m terrified not only for the future but I’m also terrified for my own teaching career. And I shouldn’t have to be, at least not for this reason.
I’m scared that I’m going to leave a profession I’ve wanted my entire life because I don’t want to risk my life. And that breaks my heart.
I want to be a teacher, but I also want to build and raise a family. And unfortunately, with teaching, I’m no longer guaranteed that. And that doesn’t sit right with me.
As a whole, we need to do better.