The Uvalde Texas School Shooting: One teacher's perspective
Updated: Jun 22
School shootings: We have all had to bear witness to increasingly horrific traumas with each
one. Watching the grisly details unfold over days and weeks on every news outlet. Listening
to the 911 calls and seeing young faces recount the horror of living through such an event.
This time, in Texas, we learned that an 11-year-old child covered herself in blood and played
dead, six children survived by hiding under a table that was covered with a table cloth. Parents were handcuffed and pepper-sprayed as they tried to rescue their babies, and 19
armed law enforcement officers stood in a hallway and did nothing to help the living children who were trapped inside two classrooms with dead classmates and teachers.
I am a teacher. As a teacher, society expects me to wear many hats for my students and
families. These expectations include educator (in-class & online), pseudo parent, mediator, nurse, counselor, psychologist, social worker, and now, I am expected to become a human shield to bullets. Some politicians are suggesting that I keep a gun in my classroom and become a sniper, as well.
Educators make hundreds of decisions each day.
- Assess students all-day
- Pivot lessons to fit classroom needs
- Answer staff and parent emails during lunches and breaks
We often feel frazzled with the number of decisions that must be made in an instant. I am a thinker, I like to consider all angles of a situation before I decide, but most days, I don't have that luxury. I believe that is why I keep having nightmares about the six children who hid under the table with the tablecloth.
Someone, likely a teacher, made the decision to cover that table with a piece of cloth that
saved six young lives. It was probably a quick decision, one of the previously mentioned
hundreds a teacher makes in a day. I keep asking myself, Did she weigh the options about using the tablecloth (spills, etc.), or did she just quickly cover the table with it and move on to the next thing that needed to be done? Was it part of their end-of-year celebrations? Did she always use this tablecloth?
These questions haunt me because if she had decided against the tablecloth, six more families might be burying their babies.
I have asked myself over and over if I would have used the tablecloth that day. I can’t say for
certain about that day, but, for the rest of my life, the answer will be, yes. I will always use a
tablecloth at any event where one is an option. I will remember that a tablecloth was the only thing that was able to protect six children as they hid from a madman with a weapon of war. The teacher who decided to use a tablecloth that day saved six lives and knowing that I might not have made the same decision brings me to tears.
children that they will be safe at their school and that it won't happen to them. In my family, I am also struggling to explain this to my children. Instead of explaining that they will be safe, it is that I will be safe.
But my children are in their 20s and they are not as easily convinced as younger children.
Instead, my children listen to my fears, I listen to theirs,
We brainstorm together ways that I might be able to protect 19 kindergarten students and myself in the event an angry young man shows up at my school with a weapon of war.
We realize I would not be able to. Then the conversation turns to who to contact about my life insurance policy and I remind them, again, which friends and relatives to call about my death, and what I want them to do with my body. It is not an easy conversation for any of us.
This time, it was different. This time, I reminded them that they only must worry about me
being killed at school for only a short while longer. I will not be returning to the classroom next year. Instead, I will be answering parent questions about home education and working to help families find the best path for their children's educational journeys.
Even without the ongoing threat of an active shooter, school settings don't work for every
family type or every type of learner. The irony of my becoming a public-school teacher after
my children left home for college is that traditional schooling didn't work for my own family.
Both of my children were educated at home from day one. They never had to worry about
becoming a statistic for school policies or mass shootings. I want to combine our experience with home education with my experience teaching in public schools, and my degree in understanding how humans learn, to create options for families who desperately need them.
Please understand, I am not asking anyone to pull their children out of school due to fear. I am not asking anyone to make any decisions at all. I am asking you, dear readers, to listen to your intuition and consider what is best for your child and your family.
What type of journey do you want to experience with your children as they learn to navigate the world? If school is the best option for you and your child, great! If, however, you aren't sure and you would like to talk about it with someone who has been on both sides of those locked doors, reach out to me.