Every one of us.
The thought is just about as American as apple pie, as the slavery and murderous tendencies that make up the blood and bone of this nation’s historical skeleton.
Is this the day my school gets shot up?
At this point, we simply expect it, another unfair, unkind weight dropped on our shoulders by our neighbors and childhood buddies-now-parents who scream about dead baby fetuses and nobody taking their guns without missing a breath. Some of us look at you and wonder how we ever dated you, ever listened to your sermons, ever called you best friend. We look at you with contempt because you don’t love kids like we love kids, you love yourself and your selfishness just might one day get us killed as we work for free to educate kids that you don’t really take care of cuz you’re too busy screaming in the face of some Starbucks worker about a mask or a nurse online about vaccinations or judging a transgender kid or intentionally misunderstanding that all kids need to learn the horribly complicated history of America so we can do better. Just ungodly. Unchristian. But you go to Chick fil A and sing Maverick City Music songs so I guess.
I said it. I said what my colleagues can’t say cuz I took the year off and I got time.
I always have an alternate escape plan, scoping out the building I’m in, walking the campus looking for weak spots and blind spots and sniper spots. I’m always judging how far and fast a sprint a kid needs to put on if they make it out the building to get to a tree line or business or line of parked cars to get under. I modify my classrooms for exiting. I always ALWAYS talk to my students about ways to escape because the squat in silence thing do not work. I show them as much as I am able without getting into trouble.
I talk about the different sounds; foot falls, gun shots, overcoming the need to scream and cry. I show them how to jam chairs into doors, take belts and tourniquet the arm at the top. I teach them the rabbit method of running, how it’s hard to hit a moving target but even harder to hit one that’s low to the ground and zigzagging. I show them how to weaponize my classroom, to imagine how they might defend themselves with what we have. I explain to them that the element of surprise is always on your side once you settle down, how the knee caps and nose and eye bridge are the places to strike if one of us gets close enough while others go for the gun. I tell them I will shoot and kill if necessary. I tell them—no matter how old they are—that I will fight to the death and beyond because I don’t plan on dying like that. I plan on living to see 100 years in good health, not paralyzed because some kid lost they ish one day and decided they wanted to play Call of Duty at my job.
I am a fighter; I believe in honesty and I trust God.
“What if they hurt each other,” you ask? “What if your students use the information to do bad stuff?” They usually don’t. Not in MY classroom. The Lord is with me. He is my stand. Most kids take the conversation seriously because they are afraid and y’all don’t have honest conversations with your kids! I can’t tell you how many times a child has said to me: you’re the first person to answer my questions, you’re the first person who talked about it, you’re the first person who listened to us talk about it.
For the love of God and holiness please talk to your kids—not at them cuz you’re uncomfortable and weird! They arent dumb. They see what’s happening—in fact? If you take time to talk to them? They can tell you who’s talking crazy and needs intervention long before them thangs get pulled out in the parking lot of the school.
But yeah. We all think about it. Teachers and students.
TBH. I used to not think about it with my black and brown students because it was a white man’s disease. Y’all kids been shooting everybody and everything for a long, long time. You have whole TV channels dedicated to how you kill folks. But now? I’m never certain. I don’t know who is upset. Who has been bullied. Who feels wronged by the world at large and the school specially. Who wants to be famous. Infamous. Who wants to make a TikTok of their killing spree, forever immortalized on Al Gore’s interwebs.
So I think about it. And I check on kids—we check on kids. Especially those whose parents are in denial or just don’t care. We keep trying to bridge the gap, make connections while teaching content that NOBODY wants to learn. I personally pray and anoint chairs and doorposts (and low key your kids, too).
Cuz I think about it. Praying that we will all be ready.