Monday, December 17, 2012

Being a Teacher

I know I'm far from the only person who was shocked by the events in Connecticut on Friday, December 14. Any tragedy where people lose their lives is tragic, but it always seems to be so much worse when children are involved. The only thing we can do in these situations is pray.

 I think the shooting has been on my mind more because I now teach at an elementary school and I can't imagine that happening to any of these defenseless kids. I've been around elementary age children for awhile now and I feel as though I have a better understanding of how they process information. It hadn't occurred to me that we needed to be prepared to discuss the events with students if they asked. Thankfully no one has asked me anything.

 At the high school level, students can process the information about a shooting. They understand that there is no explanation for these things other than someone just going crazy. A lot of my students don't even know what happened; and why would they? They don't watch the news, and their parents have sheltered them from things of this nature. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's very different.

 There's also been a lot of talk about how amazing teachers are. I read the story of Ms. Soto, a first grade teacher who hid her students in cabinets and closets before the gunman arrived at her room. She lied and said they were in the gym and he shot her. She was my age and she died for her students. That's kind of hard to process. I find the story amazing, but I don't feel worthy of being lumped into a category with teachers like her. A lot of people want to assume that I am brave by proxy because they hear a story like this about another brave teacher.

 We're all trained in what to do in a situation such as a gunman entering the school and I am confident that I could do what I'm supposed to do in that scenario. I hope I never have to find out how brave I am. So far, my career has not included any bravery. I show up, I teach Spanish and play with kids, and then I go home. That's it. I cannot say whether or not I would've been as quick thinking as Ms. Soto in that situation. So please, don't elevate me to her level merely because we share the same profession. I'm not brave and I'm not a hero; I'm just a teacher.

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