Educator Voice: Stop Saying Nothing Has Changed Since Sandy Hook

A guest column by Greg O’Loughlin

Andy Spears

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

We teachers are hearing and feeling this news differently than most. If you are a teacher and you are feeling like this is all hitting more acutely, please know that you’re not imagining it. The shock and trauma of it all is shared by anyone who hears of the horror that is our national nightmare of gun violence compounded by politicians and leaders who seemingly live with acceptable levels of slaughtered children. But for us — we who hold other peoples’ children in our hearts, we who see other people’s children in our dreams, we who carry other people’s children in our minds when we eat, walk, or try against all odds to take a break, events like yesterday’s impact us differently.

We can picture ourselves in the classroom, in the hallways, hiding in our closets with our students. We refresh our memories of the countless active shooter drills we do during in-service and throughout the school year. We wonder how we would/will react if/when the unspeakable happens. We know these feelings and have the muscle memory of these actions more than anyone else in society. We who chose majors because we wanted to help kids learn how to decode, add, research, and create. We who chose jobs that do not pay enough for the work listed in the job description, let alone pay enough for work that’s actually needed to get the job done. We who chose jobs that include coaching our kids through heartbreaks, runny noses, embarrassing moments, celebrations, crises, and loss. Those are our kids.

We feel differently about this than people who didn’t make similar choices. It hurts more. It’s scarier.

Teachers, we are not alone, and it is OK to feel like there’s something missing. There is something missing. The respect for the lives of the children we teach. Love for the humanity of the students we help grow. Acknowledgement of the role teachers play in development of safety in the hearts and minds of children that then gets shattered due to the actions of murderers, made easier by the actions of leaders who make access to assault weapons even easier, access to mental health and healthcare even harder, and inaction of leaders who wait for things to blow over. There is not a correct way to feel right now.

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Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .