Thursday, December 20, 2012
After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the community of elementary school teachers was shaken up across the country. It was interesting, because no one asked "Would I have died for my kids?" We didn't need to, because all of us knew that of course we would.
I was student teaching when the shootings at Columbine occurred. I remember my sadness and sudden knowledge that this job was going to be different from what previous teachers had experienced.
Because that's what we do. We teach, and love, and hug, and adore these kids. And pray constantly that the world will be kind just a little longer. That all those bad experiences will stay away for just one more day: the bullies, the bad grades, the bad friends, the bad school lunches. Everything, big and small. We wish them happy recesses full of friends and games. Math they understand. Pizza for lunch everyday. Of course we know this can't happen. But we dream. And then try to teach them to cope with the ugly parts of the world.
And now every teacher also prays that the bad guys will stay out and the locks will hold.
Many people have expressed similar concerns followed by the statement "wouldn't you feel safer if you had a gun in your room?"
I recently had a student with oppositional defiant disorder. They had threatened their parents with weapons. It was all I could do that year to keep that child calm. They stole from my desk and went through my closets daily. The last thing I would have wanted in my classroom is a gun.
I'm not against people owning guns. But think about this. You as a parent have put safety measures in place so that your children aren't harmed: gun locks, gun safes, separate storage for ammunition. You have probably even educated your children on your gun rules. How can you trust something that important to a stranger like me? We're not talking about multiplication tables. These are life and death rules. The minute a gun is at school with a teacher there needs to be ground rules. Do you trust they will be the same as yours? Better even? I work in public education. I don't.
I don't want a gun in my class. I want pencils and crayons and glue and math books. I want music. I want hugs and hand drawn pictures. I will protect my students. From every little hurt that I can. But I won't be keeping a gun in class.