Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Job Description of a Teacher


Dr. Jeffrey A. Claridge, chief of trauma surgery at Metro Health Medical Center, said the bullet pierced [teacher] Grassie's spleen and lodged in his back after missing his heart and spine by an inch. The bullet would not be removed, he said.

"You do not expect a teacher to get shot in the line of work," the surgeon said. "It's unacceptable. That's not in his job description."

School shootings.

They're not in the job description, but they are in the job, even if we never experience one live. We practice for them. We spend part of our pre-school opening time preparing for "intruders" on campus. We are given packages of supplies to use "in the event of such an emergency." There are color-coded cards to use as signals to the police regarding the status of the room, bandages, plastic bags for trashcan-to-toilet conversion. We do drills with the students--ducking and covering, evacuating. I carried my keys with me to the library and the textbook room, knowing that if the school did suddenly become a crime scene we wouldn't be able to fetch our belongings until the police re-opened the space.

The Columbine teachers went a long time without their wallets.

So when I heard about the Ohio school shooter yesterday, the college school shooters recently and all the aftermath I just said, "God, I'm glad I'm not a teacher anymore," and continued to work on my freelance photography project.

It does play in my mind though; the aftertaste of fear and worry gamely covered with cheerful literature lessons on the days that there had been a school shooting at Some Other High School.

A teacher knows it's possible. A teacher has a plan. A teacher looks for signs of probability, possibility and degrees of despair in students. A teacher hopes to save a child in some ethereal way when she becomes an educator, and hopes a bullet will not get in the way of the job description.

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