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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 7. A Question About Violence Affecting Teachers



“Oh, wow …” Janice started. The line grew quiet.

“Wow? Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I’d forgotten that Melissa had just come back from maternity leave. What a horrible thing to come back to!” Janice exclaimed.

“I agree. When she told me about the pregnancy, I had to stop her for a moment. I just didn’t see that coming. Hearing her voice, seeing her expression, brought on a surge of emotions for me. For some reason, I remembered how my wife, right after having a baby, was up and down emotionally. All I could imagine was how seeing a shooting while she was going through that would have affected her.” I responded, then took a deep breath.

“I had hard post-partum problems, too. I can tell you, that would have hit me like a freight train, emotionally.”

“I was troubled by how her school didn’t really work with her, about that, or seemingly little else, when she tried to come back. They didn’t assign her to a different classroom – or even replace the bloodied carpet.”

“I know. Some of us offered to switch rooms, to help her out, but administration wouldn’t listen.” Janice sighed.

“I just wished they could have been flexible,” I offered.

“It seems like the right thing to do, in my opinion. You know, like doing the ethical or moral thing – doing the right...

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