A Lesson Plan Won’t Stop a Bullet

Uncomfortably Numb

I have a great love for Pink Floyd. The song Comfortably Numb evokes such strong emotion and memory for me. As I read the lyric the other day, I was struck by how well it describes the human condition today. Humanity as a whole has become comfortably numb to the profane lack of reason in which we exist as a society, as a culture, as a species.

I have struggled with the shuttering truth, honestly, for years, but more profoundly since Wednesday. I am not sure why this particular SCHOOLSHOOTING is more poignant, more final than any of the other 208 incidents, 25 of which include fatalities, since April 20, 1999.

After all, I worked in Conyers, GA., have colleagues who teach at Heritage. I was teaching just down the road when Soloman was released last year. I worked in Miami too, been in MSD.

I really couldn’t say why this time, I just cannot. I just cannot go about my day. I just cannot go to school and teach like its all good, I got this.

Ya Think?

Perhaps I am overly sensitive this year. It has been a rough one thus far. I thought I would be working in utopia, rural, close-knit community. A place where I could quietly put the capstone on my career. Not so much. This, by far, has been the most difficult teaching engagement for me, ever.

Perhaps it was the picture sent to a new, and very young teacher in the building of a student brandishing a sidearm with a threatening posture just a few days before the shooting in Florida.

I’d post the photo, but I, like every other teacher here, understand the mental illness this child suffers from and want to protect the child, above everything else.

The police said there is nothing they can do, it wasn’t meant as a threat after all. The student was just proud of the gun and wanted to share with a beloved teacher. The teacher is still afraid.

Perhaps it is because of the disturbing desktop profiles, pictures of knives, and blood, and guns, and guts that they forget to take down before they open their desktops arranged responsibly so that I can see them. Disturbing ImagesThese wonderful little windows into the psyche of the children I spend more hours each day with than their parents do, scare the crap out of me from time to time.

Perhaps it is the unaddressed note I sent to the resource officer about those images. The officer who sits in his office watching movies or shopping all day or better yet sits in the dark because he thinks its funny to scare teachers as they come in to use the restroom. Like holding it for 2 hours isn’t enough.

And yes, I know that’s not the norm. Most resource officers are amazing.

Perhaps it was the 10 pipe bombs recovered from a local home after a routine traffic stop yielded 3 in a truck less than 3 miles from our school.

Perhaps it is the meth and opiate crisis in our beautiful town. Or the intense mental illness in our population, or the fact that our child abuse and neglect averages almost 45% above the state average.

Children with a substantiated incident of child abuse and/or neglect (per 1,000)

Location Data Type 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Georgia
Number
19,033
17,977
25,350
26,230
17,435
Rate per 1,000
7.6
7.2
10.2
10.5
7.0
Our County
Number
63
69
67
61
49
Rate per 1,000
18.3
20.5
20.5
19.2
15.5

Or perhaps it is simply because we are not a community at all.

The teacher the photo was sent to has been bullied all year long by students and teachers alike. Hence the last piece about Professional Bullying. The students pick on her, rather attack her, daily, simply because she is young, and because they can get away with it. One student suggested he would love to run into her in town because he cannot say the things he really wants to say in school. Now, she is really afraid.

Oh, and again, the police said there is nothing they can do. It is just verbal assault. I’m sorry to say you can be bullied, terrorized, and stalked if you’re a teacher. Buck up little soldier, except, wait, I’m not a soldier, am I?

Perhaps it is the fact that I go to work every day wondering if it will be a teacher, parent, or a student that erupts in anger at, not because of, me.

Perhaps it is because when we were told that the five police cars rushing to the middle school were there because a bus hit a pedestrian. We were relieved to hear that it was just a crash. It is a bad moment when you realize a bus crash is good news.

Business as usual, really?

The proverbial straw for me? Not a word was said here in our school after Wednesday. Fortunately, our students were out for winter break beginning on Thursday, so we didn’t have to look at their frightened faces. And yes, they are frightened.

We met, as a faculty, engaged in professional development, cooperative learning, and not a single word was said about the tragedy the day before.

No-one asked if we needed to talk about it, if we were okay. No-one told us how we should respond to our children’s questions. Business as usual, I don’t think so.

Hear No Evil

The world may not want to hear it, my boss may not want to hear it, but I do need to talk about it. A lesson plan is not going to stop a bullet, I need to to know what the plan is.

I wake up in the middle of the night wondering in terror how I would protect my kids. I have nothing to hide them in. No closet, no cabinets, the best I can do is sneak a few doors down through linking classrooms and hope that is enough. I can’t even make it dark with windows on every wall. Big windows; windows anyone of any size could fit through.

Teach me how to plan for what every teacher feels is inevitable.

Give me a plan that addresses our particular circumstances, not one out of an emergency management handbook written by someone who has never seen our school or met our kids. I need to know that someone who understands the dynamic of our community has a freaking plan.

The End

I understood when I wrote this post, it may spell the end of my career, could potentially force me out of this town. Frankly, I don’t care, I feel strongly about every word, and I held back. A lot.

We cannot address the illness that has become the norm in our communities until we admit openly, despite the pride or the humiliation, that we live in a sick, very sick, society, and we are all part of the problem.

There is no magic solution. Awareness and acceptance of our own culpability are the only hope. We, like every great society that has crashed before, have gotten too big for our breaches and need to be sized down.

My Solution

  • Be responsible for your side of the street.
  • Step up when it’s your turn and more importantly, when it is not.
  • Speak up, speak out loud, don’t step back, disappear, or neglect to notice.
  • Be a citizen, vote before you no longer have that right.
  • March for whatever you believe in. Believe in something.
  • Do your research, don’t just pick incumbent or worse yet Christmas tree the ballot because your too lazy to review a candidates record.
  • Read the freaking constitution and all the amendments, before you open your mouth.
  • Quit tolerating injustices, respect all life, including your own, especially your own.

I made this poster for my kids, but it’s appropriate. Really, just don’t be a jerk.

My Post


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