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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 8. A Question About Supporting Teachers

Extract

· 8 · A QUESTION ABOUT SUPPORTING TEACHERS

“That’s an interesting word – ‘disequilibria.’ That describes what Melissa seemed like after the shooting. Everything in her life seemed out of balance,” Janice commented.

“And that is typical for someone who goes through a trauma. What Melissa experienced was trauma. I have had to tell people that repeatedly,” I responded.

“I think it’s because we believe trauma only happens to soldiers in wars, not in a classroom with kids around.”

“A lot of people I’ve talked to tell me that, Janice.”

“It was hard on those of us around her. We seemed to be wandering around, not sure what to do. We wanted to help, but we didn’t know how to help.”

“I can imagine. I asked myself what I would have done, if I had been there that day, and I came up empty-handed.”

“You’ve done research – what does your work tell you could be done?” Janice asked.

An Answer

The Foundations of a Possible Teacher Support System

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