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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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Chapter 3. A Question About the History of School Shootings



“Does that answer your question?” I asked Janice.

“Yes, thanks. You were abused, and a couple of teachers changed your life. You saw how important teaching is in the lives of kids.”

“Exactly. I still feel that way. I still hear from former students who tell me that I had a positive effect in their lives. I believe that now more than ever. There are teachers all over this country who don’t realize how much of a difference they’ve made in the lives of kids.”

“I agree. I had teachers change my life, too. But I didn’t have to deal with the violence and abuse that you experienced,” Janice softly said.

“I’m glad to hear that. Each of us has had to walk on our own paths. Not all childhoods are alike.”

“I can see that. And you having a history of having to deal with violence would make you empathetic to people who’ve witnessed school shootings.”

“Sadly, I believe that’s true,” I responded. “I experienced violence at home, and at school. I saw too many fights, and too much blood.”

“That’s discouraging. It makes me think. This didn’t start when you were a kid. I wonder how many teachers have had to deal with fights, and shootings. When did these shootings start?”

“Believe it or not, we have to go way back...

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