Everyone knows about the tragedy in Ct. at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The first thing I must do is express the utter despair I am in for the families who have lost someone they love. I can’t even conceive of the devastation you are experiencing and I pray that you will soon find peace, even though I know that is a very long time off. Please know that we all hope nothing but the best for you and your families. I am sorry that there is not more we can do to make this even slightly better for you.
The next thing I would like to say is to everyone else. Those of us who are so lucky as to be distanced from this. I am not going to chime in about gun control, because I am against strict gun regulation. I’m for regulation, but against things that are so strict we can’t keep or buy guns for any reason. The fact of the matter is, this was not caused by lax gun control, it was caused by a young man with mental and emotional problems. I promise he would have found a way to get the guns regardless of regulations, so please, shut up.
The purpose of this post is to tell you to call, write, or visit your child’s school and shake his or her teacher’s hand and say thank you. Even if you and your child hate that teacher for any reason. You need to do this.
Because I am from a family of educators. My mother has been a teacher my whole life, then she became a Magnet program facilitator, and now she is a History and Social Studies Specialist. My father retired early from the Fire Department when I was in Middle School and went back to college and is now a Special Education Teacher. My Aunt Sue is a school counselor, my Aunt Marion was a school nurse, and my Uncle Raymond was a High School Principal. Me? I was a Substitute Teacher through college and taught Eighth Grade at a local Middle School.
I can guarantee you, everyone in a school has thought about a school shooting. Columbine happened when I was in Eighth grade, it didn’t scare me then the same way these things scare me now. I trusted my school and my teachers to take care of me.
But then, when I was a teacher, I was the one who had to be trusted. Me.
As a teacher, I would often think about what I would do if anything like that happened at my school. How would I protect my children? What if we were in the hallway? Worse, what if we were in my classroom and the shooter was in the hallway. How would I stop him from hurting any of them. How would I keep the kids calm? How would I get them out of the school?
I had these things planned. I had back up plans. I had an idea of how I would help them even when it was my planning block. And how I would keep track of them once we were out of the school. Would I go back if one of them was missing? Would I defend my students the way a lot of the teachers at Sandy Hook did?
I can tell you, the answer is yes. Many of the teachers who were hurt or killed Friday were younger than me. But, age does not prevent you from being willing to do anything to help children you love. Anything to ease their fear or discomfort.
That same year when I was teaching, there was a shooting at the school my mom worked at. No one was killed, so it didn’t make national headlines. Rather, some young kid was throwing hissy for being suspended for fighting, so he brought a gun to school and started shooting into the ceiling. It didn’t take long for the news to spread to my school which was in the same district. As a matter of fact, a lot of my students had older siblings at my mother’s school. Needless to say, we were all worried. We eased cell phone regulations to make sure we could all contact our families if we needed to.
My mother was fine. She pulled students from the hallway into her office and ushered others into the nearest classroom and made sure doors were locked as soon as she heard the gun fire. She, like me, made sure the children were safe before doing anything else, and if it had come down to it she would have risked her life to save theirs.
I promise, every teacher has thought about this and has developed some form of plan to protect his or her students. And now they are thinking of it again. Running every possible shooting or violent situation and how they will protect your child in each of those events.
So you need to go to the school and you need to say thank you to everyone you see. You need to be more patient and understanding of the amount of work teachers do on a daily basis. And you need to thank them for always having your child’s best interest in mind with everything they do. You may not always understand it, but I promise they do.
Hug your children and thank their teachers. Spend everyday thankful that there is someone else out there who loves your children enough to do anything to protect them, just like you.