In a world where schools have become seemingly more dangerous for students and teachers, it can be scary to think about sending your kids to school or becoming a teacher yourself. However, I have never found anything more rewarding than being a teacher. Each time a student walks through those doors I see their faces and make it a point to show them love and to guide them from the moment they enter to the moment they leave. Each of my students mean the world to me, and the thought of anyone desiring to hurt them saddens me beyond words. Many people have, in the wake of the most recent shooting in Florida, suggested that school districts arm teachers within the classroom. I do believe that the individuals suggesting teachers be armed is speaking from a place where they truly want to help. However, I believe that these ideas also come from people who are not experienced with a classroom setting, aside from maybe having been in one as a student.
After two years of teaching kindergarten students, I can say that there is no greater joy than to watch my students grow and learn. As heartbreaking as it is to have students leave for the next year with a new teacher, I am excited to see them grow and learn, and becoming more of who God created them to be. I want the best for every student who walks through my door as their eyes sparkle with so much hope for the future. Though I know that not every student will be successful and happy in life, I do know that I have hope for every student, regardless of who they are. In many of the shooting cases, perpetrators are former students, many teachers have had interactions with these students within the classroom. No teacher ever dreams of being in a position where a former student has a gun pointed at them, a student that they wanted to see grow and bloom into a wonderful adult. I myself, know that if a former student were to walk into my classroom armed, and I myself were as well, it would destroy me to take the life of any student, current or former.
In regards to safety, arming teachers also causes a hazard. Even with the gun safely locked away, it is never a good idea to keep a gun in the same room as 20 or more students. Children have a knack for getting into locked drawers and getting ahold of dangerous items, even when properly stored. A teacher shouldn’t have to be concerned about a weapon in their classroom with those students, on top of making sure each student’s mind, body and spirit are all cared for. There have been many tales of a child getting into a lockbox while the parent was in the next room. Imagine the danger of having 20 or more children in a room, all in different places, all needing to be cared for and nothing between a child and a weapon but a lock. Another concern with when an intruder may enter a school. Teachers, even with training, are not going to be a perfect shot, especially when staring down the barrel of a gun. This is a danger for any student or teacher who may be nearby when the teacher’s weapon is discharged. Another concern being that a weapon can accidentally be fired if bumped by a student during an emergency. Accidental discharging of a weapon is not unheard of and is a serious issue that can be very dangerous for students.
For me, as an educator, the proper course of action to address this growing concern is to help students who need it the most. Teachers and students should have access to services to help any student who may be struggling, with anything, not just mental health, but socially, emotionally, or even socioeconomically. I personally am not against having armed guards at schools, just as an extra safety measure, but no weapon should ever be kept in a classroom. Raising a child takes a community effort, teachers are on the front lines of the battle to keep students growing and maturing into healthy adults. Without the proper support, teachers cannot help students to reach their full potential. Teachers have been willing to lay down their lives for students, there is no lack of love within their heart, and definitely no lack of faith in the future of any student. What America needs is support for teachers, as they try to help students reach their full potential, support for struggling students and communities who are willing to band together to grow mature and healthy adults. Until we realize that this is not a gun problem, a teacher problem, or a student problem, but a systemic problem where our system has caused students to slip through the cracks, nothing will change. But until then, I will continue to love on my students and see their futures shine bright with hope, because there is no greater beauty than the unknown future of a child.