Being a teacher means much more than educating students. In addition to creating and implementing lessons and providing feedback on students’ work, we are responsible for maintaining detailed records, managing behavior, seeking out resources when students’ basic needs go unmet, attending data meetings, and completing ongoing professional development. The list of our official and unofficial duties is seemingly unending.
There are never enough hours in a school day to complete all the tasks required of us, so many teachers either stay late at work or take home stacks of paper to complete at home at night or over the weekend. We also spend much of our “free time” preparing for the next day and shopping for supplies that should be provided for our students. And as a thank-you, budgets for education are constantly being cut, creating larger class sizes, fewer support staff, and fewer of the supplies we need in order to teach our children.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, politicians have decided that there isn’t enough accountability in education, so now we are pressured to teach to standardized tests that don’t measure what skills the children have, but rather how good they are at taking tests.
Teachers are continuously being asked to do more with less. And now we’re supposed to be marksmen too? As if we don’t have enough on our plates?
When I read that President Trump suggested that teachers be armed because “they love their students,” my first thought was, “That’s the first nice thing our president has had to say about teachers.”
My second thought went to how me being armed would play out in my classroom.
I teach first grade, the same grade as the majority of the young victims in the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. First graders are adorable, inquisitive children, but they are also very impulsive. When they need something, they are unlikely to politely sit quietly with their hand raised and ask to be acknowledged. They get up and follow you around the classroom — tapping you or pulling on your shirt to get your attention.
Can you imagine if one of my students were to need something while I’m retrieving my firearm? If they were to tap me, pull on me, or yell out while I’m trying to prepare to be “the good guy with a gun stopping the bad guy with a gun”? I can only imagine the potential for it to accidentally discharge, causing more damage than it would seek to prevent.
While school shootings are occurring with much greater frequency in recent years, it is still important to not live, teach, or learn in fear. We need to remember that school is a place where the emphasis should be on teaching and learning. For teachers to take on an additional duty as a weapon-holder would detract from that purpose — and could have deadlier consequences than the problem it seeks to address.
By Lindsay Ceresnie
Lindsay Ceresnie is a first grade teacher at a local Title I public school. She is passionate about equity in education.