When I first heard about the Newton shooting today, I was in my end-of-the-day prep period. I was done teaching for the day, and I stared in disbelief at the news rolling in on my Google+ newsfeed. At first, I thought it was just another school shooting. (It’s sad that I can label anything “just another school shooting.”) Then, I comprehended that it was an elementary school shooting where innocent children were killed by a father.
I was shaken up for the rest of the afternoon, as it hit me for the first time that, like some of those who were killed, I identify as a teacher. It also hit me that many of the teachers who were hurt or killed were doing what I have done every day since September 5th– protecting my students and supporting them in whatever way possible. I became numb and tried to block the eeriness of the situation out of my mind.
Then the texts from my Cohort (the group of students I’m in my grad program with) came rolling in.
“OMG I can’t believe what happened.”
“Are you okay?”
“This is surreal.”
I tried to sympathize and provide words of comfort to each text that I received, but the reality of the situation is I didn’t really process what had happened until I sat back down at my computer tonight and actually started reading posts on Google.
Then the six degrees of separation kicked in.
A blogger from BlogHer, the blogging network I’m a part of/ the individuals who host the blogging conference I attended, lost her nephew in the shootings. As I read her twitter posts as she found out about the shooting in her family’s town I broke down and started crying. I shed tears for her, her family, for all of the families, for the entire Newton community, for the teachers, for their students, and for every child who was somehow affected by the tragedy.
A lot of people are starting the age ol’ debate on gun regulations on Facebook, but you know what?
Now is not the time for that.
Now is the time to be scared, mourn, be grateful, feel guilty for being grateful, and to reflect on what has happened. Now is the time to remember those that have been lost, and to honor their lives and memories.
It is also time for me, as an educator, to be thankful that I’m safe and do not have to cope with the aftermath of a shooting like this in my school. I care about my students so much, and I cannot even begin to imagine what those teachers are going through.
I think this tweet sums up what I’m feeling tonight… There’s no reason it couldn’t have been my school, and I don’t even know how to begin processing this tragedy.
Every day my wife is in a classroom doing her best to help children learn. No reason it couldn’t have been her room #prayfornewtown
— Patrick Manley (@patrickmanley) December 14, 2012