I don’t want to imagine receiving an automated phone call from my child’s school telling me there has been a shooting there. That’s what happened today in Newtown, CT after a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and began shooting.
When I heard there was a school shooting today in Connecticut, I immediately thought about my mother-in-law and my best friend who work in schools in Connecticut. As soon as I knew their schools weren’t targeted, I breathed a sigh of relief. And then I shuttered. Because so many other people are effected by today’s tragedy. While we all may not be impacted personally, those of us who are educators prepare for incidents like this with “Code Red” drills. It is our worst nightmare.
President Obama is about to address the nation. Information continues to pour in. This post is not meant to capture what has happened thus far. Turn to CNN or whatever you preferred media outlet is for that. Instead, it’s my way to reflect on what I’ve heard this morning. I always write when I try to process events like this. So here is my writing: completely raw and full of emotion.
Parents should never have to go through this horror of burying a child. There are parents sitting in a firehouse in Newtown, CT right now wondering if they will ever sing “Happy Birthday” to their child again. They’re wondering if they’ll be celebrating the holidays together. Will there be art classes, music lessons, sports team practices, or swim meet? Will their child graduate from high school or college? Will s/he walk down the aisle at their wedding? I cannot bear to think about the amount of lost moments that those who will not go home with their child are facing.
The media is talking about motive. WHY did this happen? There is no answer to why someone would go in and shoot innocent kids, faculty, and staff members. Whether it’s religiously motivated or about bullying, there is never any justification for school shootings. Columbine High School, West Nickel Mines School, and Ozar Hatorah: a few of the many school shootings I will never be able to wrap my mind around.
In recent months, I’ve been keeping my daughter away from almost all television. It’s my sincere belief all children should be kept away from the media coverage and conversations about this school shooting. They should not have to know about these horrific acts. Young children shouldn’t have to worry if their school is going to be next. School should be a safe place. Most are. Let’s not ruin the innocence of any more young children by talking about what happened in their presence. (Though I do believe teachers should be prepared to have some remarks ready for Monday morning when some students will inevitably come into school and will want to talk about what they heard on the news this weekend.)
I’m also hearing the words “gun control” enter the conversation again. We cannot put metal detectors at every entrance or arm teachers with guns. Those are not solutions. While I hesitate in making a political statement on this blog, I will say it’s my personal belief that we have to start talking seriously about the assault weapons ban in this country. We have to stop just talking about it and take action before any more lives are lost in schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, etc.
Writer Jordana Horn posted the following on Twitter today:
If a handful of people can change the world for the worse, then I am certain that a handful of people can change the world for the better.
What will you do do to make this world of ours, which feels so broken right now, a better place?
I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).