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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 5. A Question About Designing the Study

Extract

· 5 · A QUESTION ABOUT DESIGNING THE STUDY

“That’s kind of overwhelming. It seems like there are so many different factors in school shootings. It seems to me that it would be really hard to study all of this,” Janice commented.

“In many ways, yes. In some ways, no. There are commonalities, and there is a framework of knowledge to draw upon,” I replied.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you look for a framework to build inside of, sort of like the frame of a house, where you’ll put pipes, wires, and wallboard.”

“A framework. That makes sense. Maybe …”

“Look at it this way, in terms of how a school shooting affects a teacher, we have to understand a little about how trauma affects people,” I explained.

“That seems logical.”

“And we need what are called ‘constructs.’ ”

“Constructs? I’m not following you …”

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