The aftermath of events like the Sandy Hook school shooting brings passionate discussion forth about gun control and suggestions for protecting our children. Some voices are calling for armed teachers in schools, leaving parents and teachers wondering how far the idea of protection will be taken.

Inside my teacher desk

The plastic chair bumped against my desk once a week — silent reading time meant a few minutes with each of my students individually. Their hands would absentmindedly explore during our short conferences. Fingers brushed against framed photos, danced over file folders, slid open drawers in search of something interesting.peppermints

The most private thing stashed in my desk in my former classroom was my purse, the most dangerous... the Jolly Ranchers and starburst peppermints I tossed to my middle-school students for coming up with unique comments or questions about the books we read.

I never worried about double checking the lock on a drawer containing a gun.

Teaching in the time of school shootings

I stopped teaching a little over three years ago — recently enough that lockdown drills and frank talks about school shootings were as much a part of procedural practices as fire drills. In each of my classrooms I knew the angles of visibility from the doors, the corners where still-so-small sixth graders or gangly eighth graders could shrink from vision.

Imagination can be a terrible thing, and I'm sorry to say I'd envisioned my reaction should a lockdown occur, mentally planned the best ways to survive. Pulling a loaded gun out of my desk drawer, locked next to my overflowing purse and bag of Jolly Ranchers, never crossed my mind.

The question of arming teachers

I hear passion in the voices of people who want armed personnel in schools. I hear their fervent belief that the only way to protect our children against gun violence is to put guns in the hands of the people in charge of our little ones each day.

But I can't endorse the idea of guns in classrooms, of teachers as armed protectors of schoolchildren.

The limitations of teacher training

I trained for years to become a teacher — taking classes, learning educational theories and discussing scenarios with professors and peers. Part of my training involved observing skilled teachers, practicing with them and finally beginning to teach under their observation.

My first year of teaching was still stressful and full of surprises. No amount of prep work can prepare you for your own classroom, but even the most trying days can be reset in the morning — the consequences of bad reactions aren't measured in lives lost or saved.

Guns in the classroom won't stop school shootings

The logistics of it are frightening, like where the gun would be kept to be accessible in a crisis but not easily accessible enough for a tragic accident.

I don't think a simple gun safety class or an in-service on reacting in a crisis would prepare me to work with a gun three feet from my 11-year-old students — or to react with steady hands in the face of gun violence. I don’t want a loaded gun three feet from my 5-year-old daughter when she goes to kindergarten next year. The logistics of it are frightening, like where the gun would be kept to be accessible in a crisis but not easily accessible enough for a tragic accident.

Arming teachers doesn't change the underlying issues behind acts of gun violence. It adds another target for angry shooters — putting a bull's-eye on the chest of people invested in protecting the children in their care. I just can't wrap my head around the idea. And if I can't wrap my head around it now, sitting at home and exploring from all possible angles, I don't see how I could be expected to wrap my hand around a gun in a split-second reaction.

Our kids deserve a better chance than a barely-trained teacher with a gun in her shaking hands.

More about child safety

Mothers against guns
Protect against meningitis
Online safety for tweens and teens