Posts Tagged ‘Guns in Schools’

I am a Teacher; I Add Value

January 12, 2013 4 comments

I am a teacher. I get to school an hour before the children do to grade papers, prepare assignments, and attend to my classroom. I attend professional development in the summer to meet state requirements and learn at least one new thing that I can do better next year. I also teach summer school, follow the wheat harvest north, or work in a department store to help pay for the things my family wants to do throughout the year – things like play baseball, go to church camp, and take guitar lessons.

I am a first grade teacher. I come to work a week before I have to because I want to make my classroom more inviting. I want to put your child’s name on his desk. I want to create a reading space where children can just sit and use their imaginations. I will spend my own money at garage sales making sure the classroom library has everything your child will be interested in. I will walk your child to lunch, music and PE. I will also walk your child to the office when she scrapes her knee on the playground to get mended. Even though you can’t measure it with a standardized test, I add value.

I am a science teacher. My district doesn’t have enough money for me to properly teach through experimenting, but I make do. My lab groups are larger than I would like, but I make sure all the students have experience with the scientific method. My students predict results, apply prior knowledge, and write up lab results. I am a lightning rod for controversy because some people don’t like my content area. That doesn’t stop me. I show up every day, ready to help your child understand his body, her world, or the universe. In fifth grade, eighth grade, and biology, my students take standardized tests, but this is not how I know I add value.

I am a social studies teacher. My entire curriculum has changed in the last year, but I still know how to do my job. I will have classroom reenactments of Washington crossing the Delaware, the Gettysburg Address, and King’s March on Washington. Your child will learn about the explorers, the Spiro Mounds, and the Nile Delta. My class will learn how to spell isthmus, as well as why the Panama Canal was built in Panama rather than Nicaragua. Your child will use colored pencils to create a continent, name it after herself, and then write an explanation of how the natural features contribute to trade. My students will test in fifth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade, and US History. Even when they’re not testing, though, they have value, and so do I.

I am a math teacher. I have overhead projector ink on the sides of my hand, my shirt, my chin, and my forehead. I want your child to show his work, but more importantly, I want your child to feel like math is something he can do. I will listen to parents explain that they were never good at math and try to convince the children that they can succeed anyway. I am available before school, at lunch, and after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays to help you understand what our class is doing. I will bend over backwards to help you succeed, and it’s not just because I know the state is going to be looking at my test scores. I add value because I care about you – not just the you who does math, but the whole you.

I am an English/Language Arts teacher. I recently learned that teaching literature is less important than teaching informational text. I have 25 years experience telling me otherwise. All this time, I thought I was teaching students how to write effectively and understand language and that the text was just a way for us to have a common experience from which to start. I have junior high students who struggle to comprehend what they read, and I work with them to overcome these challenges. I want your child to find something that he cares about and pursue it. I believe that the ability to communicate effectively frames all other learning, as well as all work. Everything I teach gets measured, but poorly. I can read upside down and decipher the most fascinating handwriting. The impact of my instruction throughout your other coursework is not measurable. I add value because you read and write your way through life.

I am a media specialist. I know your child. I know your child’s teachers. I collaborate with the entire faculty to ensure that the materials they need are available.

I am a music teacher. I help students appreciate singing, playing instruments, and movement. I arrange programs for parents and prepare children for competitions.

I am a counselor. I used to spend all my time providing guidance and emotional care for students. Now I make sure my school’s student information system correctly uploads all of our data to the state. I make sure we have enough test monitors for April. I have an endless supply of packing tape to send boxes back to Pearson, CTB McGraw Hill, or whatever other multinational conglomerate administers the state tests this year. I still take the time to talk to your child about drugs, divorce, conflict resolution, and scholarships.

The state doesn’t measure what I do, but I add value.

I am a teacher. The state doesn’t trust that I add value to your child. Now they want me to carry a gun.


Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Day Five – A Bad Idea

December 18, 2012 8 comments

The thought of teachers and principals packing heat at school scares me. People owning guns because they like to hunt, participate in shooting competitions, or feel the need to protect their homes – that’s all fine. But guns at schools? I just can’t accept that.

Nonetheless, it’s an idea that will probably get serious consideration during the next legislative session. I imagine it will be discussed more than school funding, in fact.

In the last 24 hours, I’ve talked with some teachers, administrators, parents, and students. I talked to people I know, so this was – to say the least – a sample of convenience. The vast majority of people I discussed this proposal with were against it. Some were not. While I find the idea to be completely unreasonable, there are a number of otherwise reasonable people who disagree with me. That reality still doesn’t make it palatable.

If you’re a teacher faced with the unthinkable, your duty is to protect your children. Your responsibility is to stay with them. It is not your job to create crossfire. Or to run down the hall on some sort of a quest. As a teacher, it is always your job to supervise your students.

Locked doors have served as a deterrent in past shootings, including the one Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Guns in classrooms will create anxiety to a degree that far outweighs any theoretical benefit. While some students in our classrooms have grown up around firearms, some have not. While some students are well-trained in gun safety, others have had their neighborhoods torn asunder by violence and would prefer not to see a gun in the place where they’re supposed to feel safe.

This is part of the conversation we need to have about making our schools safer. It’s an idea that we’ll hopefully discuss, seriously, and then reject. You can be completely well-intended and still have bad ideas.

The conversation cannot stop there, however. We have to talk seriously about our values. After the last few days, I’ve learned that I’m supposed to be afraid of: single mothers, guns, drugs, video games, movies, atheists, religious fanatics, the mentally ill, schools, special needs children, gun enthusiasts, and gay marriage. This list of scapegoats shows our collective grasping for an explanation.

The truth is that we can never have a world in which all people treasure each other for their differences. We don’t know what made the shooter snap, and as I said Sunday, I’m not interested in reading up on him. I’m not interested in that as much as I am in the stories of heroic teachers, grieving families, and a recovering community.

On the political side, yes, I do think it’s fair to ask our elected leaders what loyalty the NRA has bought with their donations. I think it’s time to ask if it’s ok that someone could walk into a public place (remember, this doesn’t just happen in schools) with enough ammunition to just keep spraying until the authorities arrive. That’s another idea that I hope we find ludicrous.

By the way, I get that this is Oklahoma. I get that my opinions here may cost me some of my following. That’s fine. I’ve tried to address some of these ideas as respectfully as I can, and I always welcome respectful dissent and discussion.

%d bloggers like this: