I’ve been contemplating on how to start this post all day. The shooting that recently occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida was horrific to say the least, and as a mom and a teacher, my hearts hurts. It has left me speechless, but full of a raging emotion that needs to be heard.
You see, as teachers we are exposed to all different kinds of parents and children. I fall in love with a new group of students each year and each year I call them the same thing I’ve called them before – my kids.
Here’s some of what I want you to know about your child’s teachers in light of school shootings:
I want you to know that I’m not comfortable with our current procedures.
I want you to know that I have spent time researching better methods.
I want you to know that if we were ever to have an active shooter on campus that I would go against my given instructions to do what I think is better, safer and more effective for saving lives.
I want you to know that even though there are products on the market that prevent people from entering the room regardless of door style or lock, we do not have those in our classrooms because the district won’t provide them. I want you to know that I have looked into buying one with my own money.
I want you to know that in spite of these huge safety gaps, we as teachers have our hands tied. There is nothing more that we can say or do without your help. We need you to speak out. Often times, there is nothing we can say for fear of losing our jobs.
I want you to know that the time we had a “surprise” practice lock down, and I had three students in the library, it was all I could do to keep my emotion in check. I didn’t know if it was real. I didn’t know what to tell the rest of the students. I couldn’t tell them that I was scared too.
I want you to know that I lie in bed, awake at night, fearful of what I hear on the news. I hope and pray that if I were in their shoes I would have the strength to do whatever it takes to protect your kids.
I want you to know that your children are not just numbers; they are not just students. They are MY kids, they are MY responsibility. I love them more than you will know.
The real question is … How do we prepare our kids for such a sick, violent world? We obviously can’t hide them from everything, and we want to do whatever it takes to ensure they don’t become the people that make this world sick and violent.
Here’s the deal…
As a teacher, I meet a lot of different parents and children. I promise you, I will protect your child. I will love your child. I will give your child the best day I possibly can, as often as I can. The problem is, I’m not allowed to. As teachers, we have to be overly cautious in all that we do. We are limited, beyond belief, to make sure we are not “offensive” and always “politically correct.” I’m taught to teach our students how to test, not how to think critically. If we don’t teach critical thinking skills, our kids don’t know how to solve problems on their own. You know what happens when kids can’t solve a problem? Violence. If a student breaks a rule, my stomach hurts when I have to contact a parent because often the response is something like, “What did YOU do to make them react that way?”
I’m asking you, as a teacher and as a mom who will soon have her own babies in public school, PLEASE do not be afraid to be a “helicopter parent.” Contact your school and ask what you can do to help. Be as involved in your child’s life as possible while teaching them how to be a someday functional adult in society. PLEASE read their diary if you’re worried about them and they haven’t opened up. PLEASE don’t be afraid of entering their room in YOUR house without their permission. Don’t shelter them from the real world, but teach them to be the change in the world. Raise your children to value life. I promise you, as their teacher, I am, because I value their lives and hold them so dearly in my heart.
What can you do as a parent?
- Call your school district and ask what training they provide for teachers in active shooter situations.
- Ask what additional safety equipment your classrooms have to prevent an active shooter from entering. Can you help in providing this safety equipment?
- Ask what your district and individual school’s procedures are in the event of an active shooter situation. Is it effective?
- Get the community involved in helping making our schools safer.