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Gun Violence: A Future Educator’s Perspective

by Rebecca Dance

To say that I am angry is an understatement. To say that I am devastated, scared, frustrated, sad, and that it feels like my stomach drops every time I see a new headline about gun violence is an understatement. We see them far too often. 

I am student teaching this semester at a middle school. I spend all day with seventh and eighth graders trying to teach them English. I am trying to teach them about active and passive voice, how to use a comma appropriately, and how to derive meaning from a short story. In the back of my head, I am constantly thinking about what to do if something goes wrong. I was thinking about it last night – the window on the classroom door is covered in construction paper so that anybody outside can’t see if there are people in here, but the door is unlocked. How fast could I get over to the door to lock it, or hold it shut if someone started banging on it? 

These are the thoughts that are racing through my head when I hear an unexpected noise. If I hear yelling in the hallway. Whenever there are shootings that happen in other places, especially those of education, it restarts all of this disaster preparation. We skirt past this in education classrooms. We focus on instructional pedagogy and differentiation of lessons for students of all abilities. We think about classroom procedure for how to get a pencil and what you do when you’re done with your work. Education classes brush over these shootings, but they’re ever present in the back of our minds. I understand this, because what can our professors teach us about these situations that we don’t already know? 

I don’t know how other educators feel about it, because asking feels like inviting the possibility for violence in. As a future educator, I don’t know what to do. I am heartbroken and confused about violence in schools because I know that there could be something done about it. When children come into my classroom, it is my responsibility to keep these students safe from harm. Gun violence makes this impossible. 

When will anyone do something about it?