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20220925 150636

Teachers should have books, not guns

thehourlynews 3 weeks ago 0
20220925 150636


I’ll never forget the afternoon before my first day as a middle school teacher in central New Jersey. Textbooks and worksheets were scattered on my bed at home that I shared with my father. I was 25 years old and had just received my teaching license. My nerves were frayed – as every new teacher knows, there is nothing more intimidating than a new classroom full of youngsters.

Before school started that day, I had been obsessing over classroom procedures, introductory activities, and lessons for the first week that I hoped would be interesting. I didn’t sleep much the night before and survived my first week of teaching on pure adrenaline. I wondered if my students would like me and if they would want to be in my classroom. I was eager to gain the trust of their families and look forward to the opportunity to build relationships next year.

I wasn’t preoccupied with escape routes, closets and closets to hide from bullets, or fear that a gunman might walk into the school and down the hall into my English Language Arts classroom.

That was 16 years ago. My formal teacher preparation did not include workshops and simulations that dealt with the possibility of my passing in the way that teachers and students now require highly choreographed active assault exercises.

While we certainly had lockdown procedures in place, at the time they felt more like a formality than a necessity. In 2006 — the year I began my teaching career — there were 11 school shootings, and all of them were worlds away from my New Jersey classroom. There have been 29 school shootings so far this year, and 118 so far in 2018, according to Education Week, which monitors school climate and safety.

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I think most educators are now gripped by the same fear: It’s no longer a question of if a school is shot up, but when. This makes me furious at the small but powerful group of politicians who have allowed this deception to continue unabated.

I now teach students at the college level. My work focuses on preparing future teachers to take charge of their own classrooms, an experience that culminates in state licensure. This process requires them to develop expertise in content, current theories, and effective teaching methods. Our simulations include reading aloud in the classroom, Socratic questioning techniques, and discussions about themes in novels.

They don’t include teaching future teachers how to disarm and outrun a school attacker. This should not be the job of teachers. Politicians – not teachers – are the ones who should be losing sleep as they figure out how to solve this crisis. That is why we vote for them. So we pay their salaries with our tax dollars.

But congressmen like Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former President Donald Trump want to arm teachers in their classrooms as a response to the gun violence epidemic. This interpretation of a teacher’s job responsibilities does nothing more than leave teachers with a problem that only our legislators can solve.

Yet our politicians continue to bury their heads in the sand. For example, Michigan Republicans have blocked all efforts to pass reasonable gun control measures in the wake of the May shooting at Robb Elementary School in Ovalde, Texas.

The move was a slap in the face, considering Michigan was the site of another mass shooting last December when a high school student killed four of his classmates at Oxford High School.

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While I can confidently say that it is not my job to prepare teachers for the possibility of a gunman entering their school, it is also true that I am no longer sure what my job entails. .

The lack of gun control has destroyed everything I ever believed in what it meant to be a teacher. Suddenly, the basis of lesson planning and grading didn’t matter when 19 children were killed in the latest mass school shooting in Uvalde.

How do I teach future teachers to plan, have meaningful conversations, and engage students when our politicians refuse to ensure their safety? How do I convince them that they are safe in their future classrooms when I can’t even convince myself? How do I convince my students that teaching is a worthwhile, sustainable and viable career when the reality tells a very different story?

Even in the face of our legislators’ lack of spectacular action, it’s hard not to feel that I have some responsibility to train teachers for the possibility of a school shooting, as one would in their preparation. is closely related.

I live and work in Michigan, a state that almost every election cycle oscillates between what I call delicious purple-blue and terrifying blood-red political leanings. However, in nearly a decade here, I’ve never met a teacher who wants to be armed or who uses their expensive and expensive tools to focus on active attack scenarios to promote reading, writing, and thinking. Want intensive teacher training?

Texas teachers protested Ted Cruz’s response to the Uvalde school shooting, even marching to his office in Austin. Our priorities are clear: teachers want safe classrooms where they can focus on teaching and learning. Only in the United States is this considered a tall order.

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The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.

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