Happy Monday Friends. I had a different post planned for today but in light of recent events, I had to make a change in my posting schedule and get this off my chest and just share with you some things that you can do.
In case you didn’t already know, on Wednesday afternoon as most of us were winding down from a fun filled day of Valentine’s Day celebrations, nothing but love and kindness (or if you’re like me and you work in a private Catholic school you probably celebrated the day before and had been at Church that morning as Wednesday was also Ash Wednesday); students, teachers and staff were fighting for their lives in a mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
17 people woke up Wednesday morning, got dressed, ate their breakfast, maybe drank some coffee. 17 people went about their morning routine, went to school/work. Parents dropped off their kids. Teachers and staff said goodbye and I love you to their loved ones at home. Not knowing that they could potentially not make it home that night. 17 people didn’t make it home that night. 17 families lost a loved one. A whole community has been changed forever. A whole school has been completely shaken, terrified. They will never forget the things that they had to do, the things that they heard, the things that they saw. Their lives have been changed and they will never be the same. Why? Because a teenager was able to have access to an Automatic Rifle (an AR-15 to be exact) and was able to take it to the school and open fire on them, after pulling the fire alarm in order to attract more people into the hallways so that he could intentionally kill more.
If you’ve been keeping up with the news then this is nothing new to you. Sadly, this is nothing new to any of us. School shootings have unfortunately become too common in today’s world, and in order to change that WE need to stand up and make changes. We need to use our voices, otherwise things are never going to change. More teachers and more students are going to become victims of an awful tragedy, and I don’t know about any of you but as an educator….I prefer not to have to go through that. I don’t want to have to shield my students from bullets. I don’t want to have to worry if my colleague down the hall has all of his/her students safe.
Every time I hear about this on the news (which is all too often anymore), I think to myself “What would I do in this situation?”. But see the problem with that question is…on any given day I could be in a different classroom. I teach computer two days a week, the other days I’m usually in one or two rooms…but sometimes I get asked to sub, which means I’m in a different room. Luckily for me I know the school I work in like the back of my hand, because I went there. But that means that I have to have several different plans in my head. Which is fine…but the thing about it is, I shouldn’t have to. No teacher should have to think “what can I do to keep my kids safe?” or “what can I use to hold my door shut while I get my kids out or hidden?”. But the reality of it is…right now we do. We have to take active shooter trainings. We have to do all of these things because our government wants to make it easy for anyone to have access to a gun.
Now don’t get my wrong, I am all for the second amendment. I do not mind someone having their CC. I do not mind people owning guns to hunt. But there should be stricter rules and laws with this. More training, more knowledge, more background checks, your mental stability should be checked every so many months. I am not saying that every school shooting is directly associated with mental instability but often times those are the words we hear. Could it be part of it? Yes. But the main problem is that it was easy for that person (mentally stable or not) to access a gun. THAT is where change needs to be made.
I could honestly go on and on, as I’m sure many of you could too. As educators, parents and just citizens of this country no one wants to hear that a school filled with innocent children is in any sort of danger. Let alone the danger of an active shooter.
What I don’t understand in particular about this school shooting is that there were signs. The FBI was notified that this shooter had made a comment on a YouTube video saying that he was “going to become a professional school shooter”. Now it has been said that the FBI tried to trace the comment back to a source and couldn’t. Fine. But his user name was literally his name…Nikolas Cruz. His Instagram…was FILLED with guns and other things that should have been noted as questionable and should have raised awareness which could have potentially made this less deadly. Now before the comments are flooded with attacks I know you cannot predict when things like this are going to happen. But you can have better precautionary measures in place. The school did have police officers on sight…but 17 innocent people still died…people are still in the hospital, some still in critical condition.
There are some things that we can do in order to prepare in the unlikely event that an incident does occur. We can talk to our kids and our students about violence, we can teach the all of the procedures and the things that they are supposed to do. But most of all we can pray to God that in that moment (if it ever happens) that we act accordingly, because you never know how you are really going to act. For most of us, adrenaline will kick in, we will go into full protection mode, all while on the inside feeling nothing but panic and wanting to cry and scream. But we’re staying strong for our students.
Unfortunately we have normalized gun killings to the point that we must reassure the world that if and when (although I was told in our active shooter training this summer that it is not a matter of if it’s a matter of when) an active shooter comes into a school that we have plans in place to keep those inside safe. That to me is sad. But if you think about it…most school shootings are by someone who knows the school so if they know the school that means they probably know the protocol for lockdowns…which does the school no good.
I read a post on Facebook called A letter from a furious teacher (click to go to the article) and I couldn’t agree more with some of the things that she said.
“No where in my contract does it state that if the need arises, I have to shield students from fun-fire with my own body. If it did, I wouldn’t have signed it. I love my job, I love my students.”
She goes on to talk about how she herself is a mother and a wife. Though I am neither of those things right now…I would like to be someday. But right now I am a daughter and a girlfriend…and I still worry about the same things she stressed. Going home safe to my family. But also making sure my kiddos would get home to theirs.
“I chose to be a teacher knowing that on most days I would not be able to use the bathroom until 4 pm. I chose teaching knowing that I would be grading papers all weekend and working far beyond the hours of my contract. I chose to teach even though it meant that I would miss every awards assembly and field trip that my daughters asked my to attend. I even signed up to sit in a counselor’s office with a teenager on my lap, holding her as she sobbed through an anxiety attack. I signed up to as a child if they were considering committing suicide and then relaying this terrifying information to a parent. It seems like a lot to agree to, but I truly knew what I was getting into.”
Nowhere in our contracts does it ask us to shield our students as our classrooms and schools are sprayed with bullets from an AR-15 or any other weapon for that matter. However she made a good point when she said…
“At the end of my teaching contract, it says that I will perform ‘any other duties to be assigned’. I do not interpret these words as ‘bleeding to death on the floor of my classroom’.”
Honestly, no teacher would…no teacher should. But I can tell you that if it came down to it we would all be that teacher that was deemed a hero because we risked our life and ultimately lost it because someone tried to hurt our students. However, I am with the surviving students of that High School in Parkland, Florida. I am 100% done with the school shootings. I want this to be the last one (though I don’t think this one should have ever happened…2none of them should have ever happened).
So I have list of things that you can do to help. Ways that you can help us as educators take action.
1. Register to vote
This is probably the most important thing. If you are not registered to vote and you can register, please do so ASAP. I don’t care if you never vote for a president or anything else, but in order to make a change on election day we need your vote. So please register to vote and encourage others that you know are not registered to vote to do the same.
2. Text “ACT” to 644-33
What this does is shows that you are interested in joining the fight against gun violence. It will prompt you to then reply with your Zip Code and you will then be given a website which will show you events in your area that you can attend.
3. Download the 5 Calls App
This will give you the numbers to contact your local government officials. What you then do is call and talk to them or leave a message. If you are nervous about talking to them (I know I would be) then what you can do is read directly from the script that they give you. It takes about 1 minute per call, 5 minutes of your day. Please do this.
4. Text “RESIST” to 504-09
This allows you to turn your text message into a letter to your representative. Honestly this takes 2 minutes of your time. Not sure what to say? Just speak from your heart or do a little research and I’m sure you can find the right words.
5. Teach and Show Kindness and Love.
This is probably the most important one. As educators each and every day we do our best to show our kiddos that we love and support them. We do our best to teach them to be kind to their classmates and to be kind to other in general. But I am not going to lie, there are some days where I myself snap. There are days where I think to myself that a certain kid (or multiple kids) are getting on my nerves. But what I am going to try to do more and be better at is taking a step back. I do not know 100% what these kids home lives are like. I might have an idea. I might hear rumors about it. But I am not there. Even if they have a good home life they might have had a rough morning…we have all been there. It is not fair to me to lash out at them without knowing.
This quote resonates with me now more than ever…
As educators I think that we need to remember this now more than ever. The students that we see as behavior problems are the ones that are really crying out for help. The little one that yelled at you because you asked him to sit down…might not have had breakfast that morning. The eighth grader that is giving you lip because you asked him to tuck in his shirt, might have gotten yelled at for not getting his little siblings ready for school on time. Our students these days have more responsibilities than we did as kids and I think that we sometimes forget that. So when we add more to their plate than they already have and we lash out at them…we wonder why we get lashed out at as well. Or we wonder why they zone out and don’t listen.
Sometimes what we need to do is sit back and think before we act. If we can show our kiddos kindness and love even when they aren’t showing it to us, then I bet that we can work to make the world a better place.
Do you know of other ways that I didn’t mention above that people can help end the violence? Please let me know in the comments below so that I can share it with other people. Enough Is Enough. I’m ready for change and I know that other people are too.