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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 28. The Call Ends



“Thanks for taking the time to talk about all of this, Ed,” Janice said in a quiet voice.

“Thanks for listening. She’s had a hard time with this,” I responded.

“Do you know what’s strange?” Janice asked.

“Well, I could probably list a few dozen things from what she went through, but what do you mean?”

“It’s something you didn’t mention in your study, and there’s probably no way to really get this in there …”

“Get what in there?” I asked.

“For as long as I live, I will never be able to forget the look on her face that day. I saw her about an hour after the shooting. I’m not sure how you could quantify that moment.”

“I think you’re right. There’s no way I could have seen that piece of evidence. I know what she looked like from our meetings, but I can believe the expressions she had during our time together lacked the, well, I guess I could call it ‘rawness’.”

“Raw is the word. She looked disoriented …”

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