I had been searching for some words for the Sandy Hook tragedy for some time. Monday rolled around and I still had no words about it, I had gone the entire weekend avoiding reading anything on the news. At our grade team meeting that morning, Sara (English) asked how were were going to address it with our crews (homerooms). I replied that I wasn’t. By the time I walked out of the meeting and on to my first class of the day, I felt empty and unable to empathize with other teachers who were touched and struck to their core by the events in Connecticut. I told myself that maybe I should stop avoiding it and just read up on it and allow myself to process the emotions, as a human being and as a teacher. I went home that night and read about how a teacher tried to shield her students from bullets, how another teacher hid her students in a cabinet and told the shooter they were in the library. I read about how the first responders to the commotion in the hallway – the principal and vice principal – were the first ones down. I read all about it and started choking up.

As I read, I pictured myself frantically shoving my students – 15 year olds – into the closets in the back to my classroom to hide them. I thought about how I keep the door to my classroom locked all the time and how that would probably be a good thing. There is no doubt in my mind that I will do my best to protect my students – even the ones that call me names.

Today is Wednesday, and until today, I still had no words for the horrific actions of one man with access to ridiculous guns. But now I do – part of what I love (and sometimes hate) about my job is how emotionally invested I am in my students. So faced with a similar situation, I would also try my best to shield them.

This blog post by a fellow teacher helps fill out the rest of my words relating to the recent media coverage of teachers like me, both before and after Sandy Hook.


Please see the follow-up to this letter at http://lisamyers.org/2012/12/31/a-follow-up-to-dear-america-from-a-teacher/.

Dear America,

It feels strange to hear your voice praising teachers for their selflessness, dedication, and love for their students. We’re listening to what you’re saying, but we must admit that we are listening with tilted head and quizzical eye. Why? Because we’ve become accustomed to hearing a very different voice from you.

For the past few years, you’ve been certain that most of society’s problems stem from our schools, more specifically the teachers in those schools. We are lazy and useless, we are only in it for the money, we only teach for the vacation time, we don’t possess the intelligence to teach anyone much of anything, our demands for a respectable wage are selfish, we don’t teach students respect, we are leeches sucking the blood from State coffers, we don’t even work a full day like everyone else, and…

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