Opinion
School Climate & Safety Opinion

‘I Am Scared to Walk Into a Classroom': A Preservice Teacher on School Violence

By Rachel Badura — April 25, 2018 3 min read
A Preservice Teacher on School Violence: 'I Am Scared to Walk Into a Classroom'
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

I still remember my very first lockdown drill. My 4th grade teacher explained that when an announcement came over the intercom system, we were to get up from our desks and move to a corner of the room as she shut off the lights and locked the door. This was our plan for making sure we were safe in the case of an active shooter or other violent threat, she said.

We anxiously did as we were told. I remember being frightened: What if the shooter came into the classroom? How long would it take for the police to arrive? Why couldn’t we leave to go to the bathroom or get a drink from the water fountain? There were so many questions my teacher couldn’t answer.

A decade later, I am now in college and studying to become a teacher myself. And I am increasingly terrified to enter a school professionally when I graduate. After 10 school shootings with injuries or deaths this year alone, I think constantly about what I would tell my students if I were in a similar situation. There is a high possibility that I will have to address questions my students have about gun violence and safety and, like my 4th grade teacher, I will not have all the answers for them.

No Teacher Prep on Saving Lives

My university professors skirt around school safety issues in class discussions, and I don’t blame them. There really isn’t a good way to teach “Saving Students From Gun Violence 101.” No amount of instruction can prepare you for the reality of an individual walking into your classroom with a gun.

At a time when school shootings are increasingly in the public eye, my classmates and I are poised to join a group of professionals nationwide who knowingly put themselves at risk every day. They do this with very little support in an environment where safety should be the least of their concerns.

As teachers, we should be worried about making sure that Jenny has a seat close to the board because she has a vision impairment or that John has the school supplies he needs. Our job should simply be to foster growth and development for children and show them how much they can accomplish.

While my fellow future educators and I have shown support for the national student walkouts and demonstrations for stricter gun laws, I think many of us feel helpless around what is occurring in our schools and our government. I am somewhere in between marching for my life and marching for my rights. Yes, teachers absolutely need raises in pay and funding for resources, but I also need to know that my peers are safe when they enter school.

As it is right now, I have to grasp that I could be asked to carry a weapon while I’m standing in front of my students. As it is right now, I have to seriously consider the fact that my body might become a shield if it means the difference between a child’s life or death. And I have to think about the fact that we are a nation so divided on this issue that almost nothing is being done to prevent more school shootings.

Preservice Teachers Should Not Remain Silent

I feel that I have been called to make a difference in the lives of children—regardless of the risks. I feel compelled to enter the classroom every day and teach the individuals who are going to make a difference in the world in the not-so-distant future. I want to approach every situation with genuine care for my students and to monitor closely for bullying and for signs of children who may be dealing with difficult issues. I feel compelled to make sure my classroom is an inclusive space where all feel welcome.

I’m not someone who normally chooses to speak her mind about such controversial topics. But something needs to change. This cannot be an issue on which future teachers remain idle and silent, twiddling our thumbs. Current teachers, responding to suggestions from lawmakers that teachers should be armed, began the #ArmMeWith movement to let the public know about the tools they’d rather use to make schools safer. Some have joined students at walkouts. It’s never too early for preservice teachers to join the conversation.

I am scared to walk into a classroom because I know there is an ever-increasing chance I may not walk out. I’m scared because I won’t know what to say when my future students ask me why someone would want to hurt them at school. I’m scared that our elected officials are going to continue to stand idly by as my colleagues and students literally take bullets for them.

Related Tags:

Events

Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum What Will It Take for Schools to Get Better?
Find out what educators and leaders can do to incite lasting and productive change that will make a difference in the lives of students.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety 45 Percent of American Adults Support Armed Teachers in Schools, Poll Finds
Survey also shows majority support for armed police, mental health services, and metal detectors as school safety measures.
4 min read
Photo of school security guard.
dlewis33/E+/Getty<br/><br/>
School Climate & Safety Opinion Schools Have Put Their Money on Security Officers. Is That Smart?
After school shootings, people want policymakers to "do something." But is hiring more law enforcement the right thing?
David S. Knight
5 min read
Illustration of two silhouetted heads facing each other, one is wearing a police hat
wildpixel/iStock/Getty Images
School Climate & Safety From Our Research Center How Many Teachers Have Been Assaulted by Students or Parents? We Asked Educators
Some teachers and principals suggest student misbehavior could be associated with challenges related to returning to in-person learning.
1 min read
Empty classroom in blurred background.
Classrooms were empty during long stretches of remote and hybrid instruction. Some educators suggest student behavior problems are linked to the bumpy transition back to in-person learning.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School Climate & Safety A Sheriff Is Putting AR-15s in Every School. What Safety Experts Have to Say
The Madison County, N.C., school district made headlines for placing assault rifles in SRO offices ahead of the new school year.
6 min read
AR-15-style rifles are on display at Burbank Ammo & Guns in Burbank, Calif., June 23, 2022. Gun manufacturers have made more than $1 billion from selling AR-15-style guns over the past decade, and for two companies those revenues have tripled over the last three years, a House investigation unveiled Wednesday, July 27, found.
AR-15-style rifles are on display at gun store in Burbank, Calif. School safety experts say it's not unheard of for school districts to place such weapons in schools, but it requires serious consideration of the potential risks.
Jae C. Hong/AP