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Teaching After Witnessing a School Shooting

Echoes of Gunfire

Edward Mooney, Jr.

Imagine the hours and weeks after you've witnessed a school shooting. You run the emotional gamut between disorientation and severe anxiety. When you return to the classroom, you're unsure how to cope. Your classroom used to be a safe space; is it still? In this book, the experience of two teachers before, during and after they witnessed school shootings are analyzed to determine the effects of these incidents on their lives. In one case, a teacher who observed a shooting of one student by another, struggled with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her issues, along with actions by school administration, led to her psychological disability. In the second case, at a different school, another teacher watched a gunman randomly firing at students; he was able to continue teaching. A comparison helps to understand the psychological and organizational factors that affect educators who witnessed a school shooting.

This book would be critical in courses training school administrators, and for those teaching graduate research courses. In addition, this would be useful for mental health professionals and emergency responders seeking to get a glimpse into what teachers who witness school shootings are going through.

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While this work has been designed to read straight through, with a background narrative – a plot, if you will – the book has also been designed to serve as a reference, of sorts. Each chapter, or “question,” can serve as a source of material for discussion or further research. At the end of the main text, there is a listing of suggested readings, taken form the dissertation.

In addition, it was the intention of the author to maintain a feeling of a dissertation in this work, in order for those who teach research methodologies to connect the methodology to the realities of the research journey. In a way, Janice’s questions were also the questions the author dealt with while teaching such a course. It’s hoped that this “interweaving” of a story-like dialog with actual text from a research project will allow those on their own projects to elate to the struggle behind accomplishing this sort of thing.

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