Monday, March 12, 2018

Teachers Defending Schools?

It's been a bit since my last post, but I have continued thinking a lot about school shootings, and gun control, and all of the craziness in the media from the left and the right on the topic.

In particular, I've been thinking about everything that teachers are expected to do. It's pretty amazing, really. When I was trained as a teacher...I was trained, well, to teach. I was trained to write lesson plans. I was trained to understand different pedagogical approaches, and how to choose appropriate methods for the content I was to teach. I was trained to assess my students' learning. In my student teaching experience, I had the opportunity to practice these skills, and to learn firsthand about connecting with students, about managing a classroom, and about all sorts of pragmatic requirements of being a navigating the line at the copier in the morning, and how to ensure that the custodian remains your friend.

But the profession has definitely changed in the 20 years since I began teaching. And teachers today are expected to perform many, many more tasks than "just teaching." One of these tasks? Apparently, teachers are now also expected to be prepared to lay down their lives defending their schools. No, seriously.

I was recently talking with a colleague with whom I taught in a K-12 school before beginning my full-time adventure in higher ed. This colleague was sharing with me about ALICE training that the school recently completed as professional development. ALICE is an active-shooter response protocol, and stands for Alert - Lockdown - Inform - Counter - Evacuate...which are steps for responding to a shooter. This former colleague shared how intense this training was, and how sobering. Part of the training included how to use what you have at your disposal in your classroom to distract a shooter...with the intent that others might be able to get to safety while you are confronting the shooter. (I may have the details of this wrong, since I have not participated in ALICE training myself. If you have, dear reader, please leave a comment in response and either correct my misunderstanding, or confirm that I have things more-or-less correct.)

In response to this kind of professional development (seriously...we have to think of this as professional development!?), my Twitterfriend, Doug Robertson made this video (only slightly satirical...because it's sadly true) to illustrate. (As an aside, if you are a teacher on Twitter, you owe it to yourself to follow Doug at @TheWeirdTeacher. You won't regret it.)

(Thanks for the laugh, Doug...and for challenging us to think on this...)

I have been thinking about this...and wondering. I've started thinking about the classrooms I'm teaching in this semester, and the things I have at my disposal. Could I distract and defend a shooter coming into my classroom? If it comes to it, I hope I'm in my Science Methods classroom, because that's where I have the glassware, and chemicals, and metersticks, and fire extinguisher. I'm wondering about my role as a teacher...and as a defender...?

I still maintain that arming teachers is a terrible, terrible idea. But I think teachers have enough to do without also worrying about defending the school. What kind of world do we live in where we actually have to think this way as teachers?

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