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Texas shooting
Old 05-21-2018, 10:44 AM
 
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So tragic yet again.
I noticed that a sub and full time classroom teacher were killed. From what I read, the shooting occurred in an art class.
It left me wondering what both were doing in same room (was the sub for a TA, was the teacher popping in, etc).
Thoughts?


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Old 05-21-2018, 06:38 PM
 
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RTP573, I believe I read that one teacher was delivering something to the art room that was attacked. It made sense when I read it. The entire tragic shooting had so many oddities that we're bound to wonder about certain facts.

I wonder why these shootings are still happening.
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@CC96 and RTP573
Old 05-21-2018, 08:40 PM
 
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CC96, I understand your response. I also understand RTP573's. We are numbed. This affords us the ability (or need?) to intellectualize what might otherwise paralyze. But this is a forum for subs. The question--whether intellectualized as a coping mechanism or, if you don't want to give the poster the benefit of the doubt, just a poorly thought-out question--is still one that any of us might ask ourselves just because we're substitute teachers. But I think RTP573's question is more an attempt to lead others out onto the open dance floor of vulnerability. What are our thoughts? It could happen to us, so what are our feelings?



I read an article that described the Texas school as ready as a school could be, but that their readiness was not for preventing a tragedy; rather, their readiness was for mitigating tragedy, to minimize the loss of life and injury. Are our communities ready for gang violence? Are we ready for police brutality? Are we ready for the everyday rude, disrespectful behavior some of our students and colleagues give us? Are we ready for the low point human nature has stooped to, even with all our so-called enlightenment? School shootings are, as reductionistic as it may sound, the extreme symptom of our long festering social and individual moral cancer. And it's not going to go away anytime soon.
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Old 05-22-2018, 03:18 AM
 
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I subbed the next school day after the Newtown/Sandy Hook tragedy six years ago. I realized as I prepared to leave for the school day that, yes--it can happen to "us." We are not exempt. No one is, really and the possibility exists that we will face a life and death decision.

The shame of it is that subs are typically the least prepared--it's not a priority for us and it's not a priority for most districts to prepare subs. I've done my own research and soul-searching. I'd encourage others to do the same. However, recognize the reality that no two situations are going to be identical. Shooters don't have policies to follow, they are driven by unseen and often not understood forces. As has been said of terrorists, when someone's life no longer matters to that person, they are a formidable and perhaps unstoppable foe.

For that reason, we are not likely to prevent every tragedy. We are also in danger of seeking "a" solution to a problem that is multi-faceted. I tend to agree with thecoast:

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School shootings are, as reductionistic as it may sound, the extreme symptom of our long-festering social and individual moral cancer.
However, I think it's a bit more individualistic. I heard someone say recently, "There really is no world. There are just six billion understandings of it."

We might do well to consider where and when the seeds of violence are sewn into these shooters who grow up with a very different understanding of the world. Personally, I think it begins at a very young age. A colleague from a nameless district said during one of their workshops, they were asked to write down the names of kids at the school they thought would be potential shooters. We can debate the wisdom of the exercise, but isn't it at least interesting that we think we can know?

We need to be prepared. For subs that means setting aside our worries about schedules and lesson plans when we enter the room to which we are assigned long enough to look around and create an awareness of things like "safe zones" and what we would do if there was an active shooter in the building. With a little practice, this can be done in a matter of minutes. Start with the evacuation plan (usually posted near the door) and work your way around the room thoughtfully with questions like "Where are the best places to hide?" During one drill I experienced, a second grader ran towards the windows yelling, "We need to escape!" Fortunately, the teacher knew that the front roof was not reachable from her windows--there was a two-story drop that most classrooms on that side of the building do not have. Would a sub know that?

We have an obligation (and I think opportunity) to be prepared to protect our children and ourselves.
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Old 05-22-2018, 01:42 PM
 
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A colleague from a nameless district said during one of their workshops, they were asked to write down the names of kids at the school they thought would be potential shooters. We can debate the wisdom of the exercise, but isn't it at least interesting that we think we can know?
I think it's interesting that anyone is interested in what teachers think about this. When I was a full time teacher I had a student who DID worry me. He was obsessed with a particular girl to the point that she had to get a restraining order. He was obsessed with guns, had access to hunting rifles and lived within walking distance of the school. He had an explosive temper and poor impulse control. After I witnessed him threaten the girl he was obsessed with (after he got fired from a job for sexually harassing her at work) I went to my administrator and expressed my concerns. You know what he said? "Oh, the thing about school shooters is that we never know who they're going to be" and not one blessed thing was done. I don't know what happened after I retired (although, thankfully, my concerns didn't play out as a school shooting) but I often wonder when a school shooting happens whether someone was concerned and whether their concerns were swept under a rug.


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What would we write down?
Old 05-22-2018, 08:10 PM
 
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A colleague from a nameless district said during one of their workshops, they were asked to write down the names of kids at the school they thought would be potential shooters. We can debate the wisdom of the exercise, but isn't it at least interesting that we think we can know?
It is beyond interesting. And since you brought the question[able] exercise up, I will go ahead and be uncomfortable with my thoughts and with the potential reaction to them. Truth be told, if most teachers in that exercise had written down who they thought would be shooters, I would almost wager that they predominantly thought of minorities even when the statistics are that 100% of the school shooters have been of the majority culture. Just sayin'. And if we include non-school mass shootings, then it's 99% members of the majority.

As far as I'm concerned, ethnicity (wrongly labeled race) really means nothing. But those who want to find an explanation would settle on ethnicity as a factor if some of the shooters had been a member of some minority. The majority cannot be profiled. But, had two or three of the shooters been of a minority or two, all kinds of trumperies would be uttered about what to do with people like the shooters. (Yes, that's a real word, even if it sounds like it's loaded with political innuendo).

Though society has an influence on what people do--society is a multifaceted factor--I agree that it boils down to individual idiosyncrasy. Fortunately, we will be weighed as individuals on Judgment Day.

Last edited by thecoast; 05-23-2018 at 04:03 PM..
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Old 05-23-2018, 08:03 PM
 
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As I see it, the only reason I'm there is for the safety of the kids. It's great if the kids learn something when I'm there, but that's just an added bonus. If we simply wanted the kids to learn something, then we would just write the lesson on the board and leave them to their own devices. I'm getting paid to be the literal adult in the room, which means that I have to be mindful of the things that can go wrong.

Most of the time, that means that Johnny is running around the room disrupting the other kids, and I have to figure out how to stop him. Thankfully, that's about all I have to worry about most of the time. But they're also paying me to figure out what to do if something bad happens, like a fire, or a tornado, or someone shooting. And when I get there in the morning, those are the things that I think about. I look around and figure out where the closest exits are and where the storm shelter is. And more and more these days, I check the lock on the door and figure out the fastest way to lock it. I consult the official plans, but I don't limit my thinking to them. For example, I always take a look at the windows to see whether they open and whether a kid would fit through them. I'm sure they're not part of the official evacuation plan, but if they're the only method of escape from some danger, then I'm going to tell the kids to use them. I think about things like disabled students and how they would leave the building during an emergency.

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-it's not a priority for us and it's not a priority for most districts to prepare subs.
Unfortunately, I've come to the conclusion that this is true. Just as there seems to be a lot of motivation for kids to do well on tests, there seems to be a lot of motivation for schools to perform well on various drills. Of course, doing well on a drill is a good thing, because it should mean that you're more likely to do well for the real thing. But unfortunately, many of the plans seem to concentrate merely on doing well during the drill, with little actual thought going to the real thing.

I have taken to insisting that I get a key to the room, or at least some other method of securing the door (such as locking it and propping it open during the day). But some times when I've asked about this, I was told something to the effect that I needn't worry, because there's not going to be a drill that day.

I was smart enough not to say this out loud, but my reaction to that was that I don't really care how well they do during a drill. If I screw up during the drill, the worst they can do is fire me. Instead, I'm worried about the real thing.

Perhaps this is understandable, since there aren't school shootings every day, and people forget why we're doing the drill. Last week, for example, the teacher printed the lesson plans, and the last page dutifully included the emergency procedures. But those procedures were for a different room, and referred to things that didn't exist. I assume that she was in another room last year, and didn't bother changing the plans. Maybe that's understandable, because that was last week, and there hadn't been a shooting for a while.

But then this week--I think it was Monday, the very next school day after the Texas shooting--I got to my room, which someone had helpfully unlocked for me and left the door open. I checked and it was still unlocked, so I had the secretary lock it for me.

A few minutes later, the principal came by and unlocked it again for me. I asked him to please leave it locked. He asked why, and I said, "in case of a lockdown." He said that he was more concerned about the disruption caused by kids not being able to get into the room, and that I needn't worry about a lockdown, because that was his responsibility. But I insisted, and he left it locked for me.

So the very next school day after a shooting, the idea of a "lockdown" was the occasional drill, one for which he is responsible for doing well. But the reason why we have the drill didn't really seem to register, even though it had just happened the previous school day.

Perhaps this is nothing new. I remember when I was in elementary school, we had a tornado drill. This must have been a more important drill than most, and I think there were even firemen at the school observing. I was impressed at how seriously they took our safety. For example, I noticed that one of the teachers was carrying a battery operated radio, and he was even proudly showing it off to other teachers. This was quite reassuring, since I knew we could get emergency information, even after the tornado caused the power to go out.

But my assurance that they were worried about my safety was short lived. I lived near the school, and I happened to see that teacher walking home. And sure enough, there in his hand was the battery operated radio. It was all a ruse! I'm sure they got a perfect score on the flawless tornado drill, complete with extra points for a portable radio. But that radio contributed absolutely nothing to my safety, because if there was a real tornado, it would be at the teacher's house, and not anywhere where it would do any good.

So it's up to us. Yes, there are probably some plans. But we need to give some thought to these things. They're paying us to think about these things, and we need to work under the assumption that we're the only people thinking about them.
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Old 05-23-2018, 08:10 PM
 
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A colleague from a nameless district said during one of their workshops, they were asked to write down the names of kids at the school they thought would be potential shooters.
Does everyone remember the phrase, "go postal"? There was a time when postal violence was a thing. There seemed to be an epidemic of postal employees "snapping" and shooting their co-workers. This became known as "going postal."

The reason I mention this is that one of the things management decided to do was try to figure out who was going to be the next to "go postal." So they identified the possible future culprits, at which point they had to figure out what to do about them.

Unfortunately, the default seemed to be making the working conditions even worse for these people, which actually increased the chances that they would "go postal."

I suspect that similar attempts to identify future school shooters will also backfire.
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Great discussion...
Old 05-24-2018, 01:33 AM
 
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Glad to see/hear the heightened awareness and hear some of the discussion. I haven't kept track (and note that the frequency of drills is often determined at the state level) but we've been doing fire drills for years and we've gotten good at them. The kids don't get scared and actually enjoy them. I would like to think the same will ultimately be true of lockdowns and evacuations. (I suppose we could also note that there haven't been very many school fires over the years...)

During a recent fire drill my second graders were in a special at the other end of the building. I realized that I didn't exactly know what I was supposed to do...I'd never been through a drill when I wasn't with my kids. I grabbed my emergency clipboard and went to find my kids, catching up with them as they were exiting the building. Two were missing! Both were located quickly. One had gotten left behind because she was having trouble walking. (There's more to the story.) When we got back to the classroom, we abandoned the lesson plan to talk about fire drills--my emphasis was on what we are supposed to do. For second-graders, they have to remember two things: leave the building as quickly as possible and if there's any sort of trouble, find an adult. Those are the things I want the kids to remember.

I'm afraid I really hammered the kids pretty hard over their "failure." (There had been an argument over who was going to help the girl who couldn't keep up.) They wanted to discuss what had happened, I kept them focused on what was supposed to happen. I found it a bit amusing that I had zero classroom management issues for the rest of the day.

To my way of thinking, drills are about leadership and it's the time when we aren't going to have a class meeting to decide what to do. That should be true of any kind of emergency. Faced with a crisis, we are no longer subs. We are the real deal and we have the lives of those children in our hands.

Quote:
...I often wonder when a school shooting happens whether someone was concerned and whether their concerns were swept under a rug.
As do I... Parkland made that point with an abundance of ignored warning signs, but it does not make not mine. My point is that I think the seeds are planted many years prior and we need to be concerned about the little ones... when a child learns (or doesn't learn) something that may start them down the path. We have five year olds with anger management issues... and kids of all ages with a profound lack of social skills. We are obsessed with explaining/excusing behavior rather than altering it.

I had an incident where a special ed kid broke into my line of littles after pushing me out of the way... then started pushing them around. When I attempted to stop him his "handler" yelled, "It's okay, he's one of ours." I assured her that it was NOT okay. We have minimum standards. In follow up I was told that "special kids are fragile..." I replied, "So are my little ones." It turned out okay, but I was the one investigated. (I should probably note that I did not touch the offender or attempt to restrain him physically, but I did confront him verbally.) That's a sad commentary on the system we are using.

If we want to solve the school shooting issue, we need to realize "It's easier to build strong children than to fix broken adults" and start trying harder to do that.
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On a practical note...
Old 05-24-2018, 01:03 PM
 
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A few minutes later, the principal came by and unlocked it again for me. I asked him to please leave it locked. He asked why, and I said, "in case of a lockdown." He said that he was more concerned about the disruption caused by kids not being able to get into the room, and that I needn't worry about a lockdown, because that was his responsibility. But I insisted, and he left it locked for me.
One way to solve this problem (depending on what kind of door we're talking about) is to carry some surgical masks with you. You can leave the door locked but loop the mask from the inside doorknob to the outside doorknob. On most doors, this will prevent the door from latching so people can still get in if need be. In the event of a lockdown, it only takes a moment to take the mask off the door.


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Old 05-25-2018, 06:11 AM
 
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That's basically what I did.

At most schools where they don't provide a key, there's a magnet that can be put in place to keep the door from locking when closed all the way. This school didn't have those, so I improvised with a piece of tape.

What the helpful principal did was come and unlock the door completely. I asked him to leave it locked so that a magnet, tape, or surgical mask (which I have to admit, I wouldn't have thought of) would still work.
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An interesting read....
Old 05-25-2018, 04:11 PM
 
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.....about the "why" of school shootings.

https://www.nationalreview.com/corne...t-explanation/
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I can see how...
Old 05-26-2018, 11:06 PM
 
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...this might be considered a response to a why question, but it is not. It is an attempted response at a how question. And I think the author is on to something. Except for the part about the first guy at Columbine. That's where the explanation falls apart. It's where all explanations fall apart: why or how the first person to do something (whether it's a good thing or a bad thing) did it. In the end, there is never and can never be an explanation for evil. To explain it is to justify it.
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I don't think the article is meant....
Old 05-30-2018, 05:03 AM
 
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....to be an explanation of why people sometimes do horrifically violent things. We have always had mass shootings and violence in schools is nothing new. It's the acceleration in frequency that's so terrifying and this puts forth a pretty good theory about that. Note that I say "theory" because I don't think any explanation can be more than that.

I suspect that the ultimate solution is going to be virtual school. We simply will quit bringing hundreds of kids together under one roof to educate them. I'm not advocating that; I think we, as a society, are already too disconnected. But it might solve a number of problems that plague schools: the cost of maintaining, heating and cooling big buildings, the problem of poorly behaved students impacting other students' learning, parental expectations that schools will take over the basic tasks of parenting, etc.
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@Tori58: Brilliant!
Old 05-30-2018, 04:42 PM
 
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Quote:
I suspect that the ultimate solution is going to be virtual school. We simply will quit bringing hundreds of kids together under one roof to educate them. I'm not advocating that; I think we, as a society, are already too disconnected. But it might solve a number of problems that plague schools: the cost of maintaining, heating and cooling big buildings, the problem of poorly behaved students impacting other students' learning, parental expectations that schools will take over the basic tasks of parenting, etc.


Brilliant! Better disconnected than dysfunctionally connected. It would also save parents and teachers gas and commute time while improving the environment. And while it might hurt substitute educators some, overall, subs would still have job opportunities.
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Its not just a school issue, its society
Old 06-22-2018, 08:51 PM
 
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Coming from a Pastoral background, I see lots of kids with fractured lives. We arent helping with our typical hands-off aproach to dealing with kids. I realize the concerns about abuse and its a valid concern, but every district I have subbed in, has a no-touch policy, and frankly I think thats a part of this big puzzle. people need appropriate touch, kids need appropriate touch, depriving children of touch is catastrophic to them as they develop. sur emost kids get plenty at home, but some do not. manyhave no dads, and that deprives them of necessary contact. boys and girls both need the touch and security of both parents if possible to develop correctly. missing out on developmental steps due to things like loss of a parent, or physical neglect can leave them unable to cope with stress of classroom and school. As a foster parent we just took a class on holding, where it was shown that holding a child (and even a teen) can have dramatic restorative effects on lacking brain development.

I say all that to say that kids especially boys need contact. ruffled hair, a pat on the back and a hand on the shoulder when needed. I think the idea of zero-tolerance for touching is a bad idea, and training for appropriate touch might just be worth a try.
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