Monday, February 26, 2018

10 Reasons Why Teachers Shouldn't Carry Guns In Schools

 As a teacher, I must weigh in on the gun debate gripping our nation. I believe in the Second Amendment to our Constitution. I agree that people should be able to protect themselves and their families from predators, however, I also believe we need to set limitations on the caliber of weapons that end up on our streets. 
Like all Americans, teachers want children to be safe. Our profession demands it and we demand it of ourselves. Teachers spend hours training, collaborating, and soul-searching the best practices for student safety everyday.

At my former school, we conducted fire drills, lock downs, and shelter in place drills every month. Prior to employment, every teacher must pass a Child Abuse Clearance, a Criminal Background Check, and an FBI Clearance. Every year, countless teachers must contact social services to remove students from abusive and neglectful homes.
I do not believe that teachers should bear the responsibility of carrying guns to school. 
Here's why:

1.  Workload    

Teachers are already overworked.  Due to poor parenting, teachers bear a heavy burden disciplining students. (Discipline means to teach.) Not only do they have to instruct students on the basic subjects, many students have to be taught how to behave properly in public, how to use their manners, how tocontrol their anger and aggression, and how to achieve basic human interaction.

2. Scrutiny

Teachers are under a microscope. Everyone has an opinion on teachers. Politicians are constantly blaming teachers and teacher's unions for the state of education in our country. Placing guns in our hands would only make the pressure on us worse. 
The public, the politicians MUST listen to what educators are saying. We haven't received smaller classroom sizes or more funding and the consequences have been devastating. If we say it's not a good idea to arm teachers with guns, people should listen.

3. Student Voice   

Students all across the country are crying out for change. We must listen to them! If the passed two weeks are any indication, the students want gun reform, and that does not include teachers carrying guns to school.

4. Funding    

 Let's be real! How is the government going to fund a program to arm teachers? The cost would be astronomical. Many public schools already go without essential supplies like paper, textbooks, computers, and teachers. What else will need to be cut to achieve arming teachers? What will happen if politicians choose to raise taxes to fund this program?
There are approximately 3.1 million teachers in the United States. President Trump has suggested arming the elite 10-20% of this population with guns. Let's break this down. It's about $400.00 for a low-end handgun, times that by roughly 700,000 educators, and you get $280,000,000.00--and that's without proper training.

5. Expectations

 Do we require bank tellers to protect a bank, in addition to their regular duties? Do we expect regular airport personnel to be armed for our safety?  No, we hire trained security guards to do this because it is a difficult and demanding job.

6.  Overpowering

I hate to break it to you America, but there are many more Nicholas Cruz's sitting in our classrooms right now. What would happen if one of these students overpowered a teacher armed with a gun? It could easily happen.

Remember, a teacher is alone, in the classroom, with at least 30 students, in some cases. A student like Nicholas Cruz would delight in knowing teachers were carrying weapons. It might be seen as a game or a challenge to disarm one of these teachers.

7.  Teacher Error

Teaching is a highly stressful job. So stressful in fact, that the life expectancy rate for teachers has dropped. What happens when a teacher, who has spent at least one school year in a volatile classroom without support, misinterprets a student's body language and shoots the way police officers have done over the years?

8. Disgruntled

What if another educator, teaching under the same circumstances, is having a mental breakdown?

9. Mission Statement

 Teachers are public servants not body guards. Like doctors, a teacher's mission is to nurture and support. Drawing a gun, under chaos, and shooting a moving target accurately, is not in our nature, let alone our job description.

10. Other Options
 One of the most important lessons learned in school is to compromise. The politicians, the NRA, and the citizens of this country need to stop ripping each other apart and engage in meaningful dialogue that focuses on long-term solutions, not belittling a different point of view.

How do you feel about teachers carrying guns in schools?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Diary of a Kindergarten Teacher: 10th Entry

Wednesday, September 3
Dear Diary,
It was the first official day of school for grades 1-8 today at Adams Elementary. I spent the first part of the morning helping students find their new class line in the schoolyard.
After that, I spoke with Ramona Johnson's former Pre-K teacher, Miss Maureen. Miss Maureen confirmed that Ramona is challenging and so is her mother. Apparently, Ramona's mom can be argumentative. I've dealt with parents like that before. They can be difficult and scary sometimes. 
I told Miss Maureen that since Ramona's mom didn't complete the Kindergarten transition meeting, I didn't have a copy of Ramona's Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
In order to meet Ramona's educational and behavioral needs, it is essential that I have a copy of this document. Miss Maureen no longer had her copy of Ramona's IEP, so she couldn't provide me with one. She also told me that unfortunately she couldn't give me any advice on how to deal with Ramona's negative behaviors, because the strategies she used didn't work.     
After that, I called Devon Wilson's old preschool. His former teacher was unavailable to speak with me. I was hoping to find out what anger management techniques she used to diffuse Devon's anger. I left a message for her to call me back.
Following all of this, I conducted thirteen interviews. Five of my originally scheduled parents came, as well as eight brand new registrations which were done today. I wasn't told that these parents had arrived. They were simply told to go to my classroom and I would speak with them. It was overwhelming and exhausting.
This puts me at 21 students total that I have met with. Once again, I called the four parents that didn't show today, inviting them to come tomorrow. I hope they show up.
Tomorrow is the last day in the schedule to do parent interviews. Any additional interviews will have to be completed during my prep time or before and after school.
It seems that I have a couple more students with IEPs for behavioral and educational needs. Those with educational needs are supposed to meet twice a week with our Special Education teacher, Mrs. Thomas.

I know there are no additional personnel for behavior problems that arise on a daily basis, but it's comforting to know that the students' educational needs will be met.
There is a program in the school called Student Support Services. They have a Shadow Program, where workers are assigned to a behaviorally challenged student for a portion of the school day. 
The Student Support room is directly across from my classroom. This afternoon, I spoke with the supervisor, Mrs. Miller. She said that for students with behavior problems, I'd have to complete paperwork with anecdotes.
Once I've accumulated enough data, I can submit it. Then it will be reviewed by their agency. If the students meet certain criteria, they will be assigned a Student Shadow. Mrs. Miller did say that it's difficult for kindergartners to get a Student Shadow. It can take months to have the paperwork reviewed. 
In order to prepare for all of my students, I've made a list of children who require
educational support and behavioral support.
            Educational:      Ramona Johnson
                                       Rafael Cruz
                                      John Monroe
            Behavioral:     Ramona Johnson
                                    Rafael Cruz
                                    Devon Wilson
 In Pre-K, I used to make individualized baskets, for specific children to use, while I instructed the rest of the class. I would put paper, crayons, lace-up cards and other items that interested them in the baskets. I'm going to make one for Ramona and Rafael.

I'm also going to introduce a Quiet Space for students to utilize when they're sad or angry. I also did this in Pre-K. I'll add pillows and a box filled with books, paper, and crayons.  
Of course I'll do lessons on appropriate behavior and consistently follow the daily schedule. These techniques are also supposed to help with students misbehaving.
These are the only strategies I've come up with so far.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Diary of a First Year Kindergarten Teacher: 9th Entry

Saturday, September 6
Dear Diary,
I spent the night thinking of strategies to help the students in my class and the positives of my situation. Positives first:

1. I still have a job. When the district cut my position in June, I wasn't sure if I'd have a job in September. I spent the entire summer stressing about that. Now I can continue to pay for my son's college tuition and my daughter's high school tuition.

2. I have help in my classroom for an hour-and-a-half everyday. Many kindergarten teachers in the district don't have that.

3.  I'm able to teach kindergarten. I was very concerned that I'd end up in a higher grade. After teaching 2 - 4 year olds for my entire career, being thrown into a second or third grade class would have been difficult.

1. I know that Ramona Johnson had an IEP in Pre-K because the special needs coordinator told me. I am going to call Ramona's former teacher, and ask which behavioral and instructional strategies were used for her when she was in Pre-K. I am also going to do the same for Devon Wilson. Collaboration is key to help these children succeed.

2. I'm outlining my daily schedule and making an anchor chart with pictures for the children to read. Consistency is important for children.

3. I'll incorporate lots of music and movement into the schedule. That should help relieve the stress and anger of the students.
That's all I have for now.  I think I'm off to a good start.   

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Diary of a First Year Kindergarten Teacher: 8th Entry

Friday, September 5
Dear Diary,
 Okay, so six parents showed up for interviews, which puts me four behind. I tried to reschedule them for Monday. I was only able to get in touch with one of them. I left messages for the other three.

They'll probably show up on Monday unannounced and I'll have to squeeze them in. I now have nine interviews scheduled on Monday. I've completed eight.
The students I've met so far are a mixed lot in terms of skill. Luckily as I had requested, all eight children attended the meetings with their parents.

I was able to complete the battery of required assessments. These tests will help me prepare future small group lessons. It seems I have my work cut out for me.
Three of the students have attended some sort of day care or preschool program. The other five have not. These five children didn't know how to open a book correctly or differentiate between words and pictures. They also couldn't identify any letters from their first name, basic shapes, numbers from 1-5, or the primary colors.
One of the students has a severe behavior problem and is learning disabled. Her name is Ramona Johnson. I was told that Ramona belongs in a special program.
She received services in Pre-K, but her mother never attended the Kindergarten transition meeting in the Spring. Ramona will be expected to learn in a classroom with 29 other students in my regular education setting with no extra support.
How do I know she won't receive any additional support, because I asked. Due to a lack of funding there are no extra personnel. Isn't that just wonderful?!!!!
There is also a little boy named Devon Wilson with anger management problems. Mom is trying to get him into therapy but has been unsuccessful due to long patient waiting lists.

Devon is extremely bright. He knows every letter in the alphabet including their sounds and he asks intelligent questions.
The other four were quiet at the meeting. Let's hope they stay that way when school starts.
I have to input some of the information from the interviews on a statewide database. Since I haven't received a school district laptop, I'll have to do it from home over the weekend.

Apparently, due to a shortage, the kindergarten teachers at Adams Elementary were excluded from getting laptops. 
I'm trying to stay positive but it's getting really hard.