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I’m a teacher educator, and might work hasn’t felt so hopeless

I’m a teacher educator. With regards to preparing teachers for the stressors now facing them, it often feels as though my hands are tied. Across two states, I’ve taught a huge selection of future teachers signed up for teacher preparation programs at the faculty level. My job is devoted to preparing them to take charge of these own classrooms, an event that culminates in state licensure. This technique typically requires they develop expertise in content and current theories and options for effective teaching.

While much about might work with student-teachers has remained exactly the same through the years, of necessity, a whole lot has changed. My students, universally, have a love of learning and desire to pass that to younger generations. They feel as if these were born to become teachers. I’m in a position to guide them through the conceptual, practical, intellectual and emotional work embedded out there. Our simulations involve classroom read-alouds and Socratic questioning techniques and debates and discussions about themes in novels. We lesson plan and figure out how to develop meaningful assessments. We cope with racism and bias in education and I walk them through justice-related work while haunted by the data that having to instruct in this unregulated, gun-obsessed climate can be an educational injustice. The existing the truth is a dark cloud hanging over our interact.

Therein lies the hopelessness of my profession. Just as much as my students believe that teaching is their life’s calling, most of them express terror over stepping right into a classroom, afraid that their district would be the next site of a national tragedy. And the task of supporting them in this time around of fear and uncertainty is precisely where I’m much less certain of myself. There is a lot that I’m qualified and in a position to do. But gleam lot that I’m not qualified to accomplish, nor do I’ve the stomach to endure.

The hard facts are that I’ve no idea how exactly to prepare future teachers for these new stressors. Their future schools will curently have lockdown procedures set up systems for coping with the chance of an armed intruder entering their schools. I’m wholly unqualified to get ready them because of this reality, nor do I’ve the stomach to ask my students to rehearse, on my watch, for the chance of these own on-the-job demise.


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Lately, I came across myself wondering whether and how individual states took responsibility for helping teacher educators navigate these issues. State departments of education are, in the end, the testing and licensing authorities. Admittedly, my very own formal teacher preparation and pathway to licensure didn’t prepare me for the trauma that face teachers and students today. I was never asked to rehearse for my very own on-the-job death just how teachers and students are actually necessary to, with highly choreographedactive shooter drills. In 2006 the entire year I began my teaching career there have been11 school shootings. There have up to now been27 school shootings this season, and 118 school shootings since 2018, that is whenEducation Week began monitoring school climate and safety.

In order to know how states may be supporting teacher education programs in order to navigate these unprecedented stressors, I asked my former students whether, within their experience with state testing and licensure, they’ve ever encountered explicit focus on teachers’ and students’ trauma and emotional well-being. Predictably, the solution was a resounding “no.” One student remarked that even her psychology exam didn’t include focus on trauma or emotional well-being. Another student, discussing his state’sedTPA requirementand who graduated from his teacher education program in the wake of theMarjory Stoneman Douglas SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL shooting inParkland, Florida,said, “Never. Seems like a thing that should actually be addressed in that test given the existing circumstances.”

Another student was possibly the most specific: “The pressure will there be to be ‘on’ at all times and the unspoken expectation is that, as teachers, we should continually be ‘on’ when students remain. But no-one mentioned how tough which can be to maintain every year, every single day. I really do think in a few of my teacher prep courses there have been times where student well-being was mentioned or emphasized, but that never arrived on the tests I had to take,” she said.

We have been largely on our very own in navigating this difficult reality.

The subtext is clear: State testing requirements remain unchanged even yet in a context where students and teachers are dying. Where teachers are protesting for his or her lives. Where many politicians areadvocating for a lot more guns in classroomswhile some continue steadily toblock all efforts to institute reasonable gun control measures.In the lack of states joining forces with teacher education programs to tackle the United States’ ongoing school shooting crisis,teacher educators come in a genuine bind: We have been necessary to prepare our students for a blast of licensure exams, which require a dialed-in concentrate on subject-area content and student outcomes sans any sustained focus on their trauma.

As the way to licensure requirements remains largely unchanged, so too does most of the work that I really do with students. In the context of a school shooting epidemic, it is a devastating and debilitating reality.

But still, we try. Where I could,There is myself like so a great many other teachers leaning on crowdsourced materials to handle the emotional fallout that follows news of a school shooting. The book “Teaching on Days After: Educating for Equity in the Wake of Injustice,” compiled by Michigan State University researcher and teacher Alyssa Hadley Dunn, is among the few comprehensive texts which exist on how best to navigate these crises within their wake. The companionFacebook group comprising nearly 20,000 educators, parents along with other stakeholders also offers a wealth of crowdsourced options that teachers may use within their classrooms. This subtext, too, is clear: We have been largely on our very own in navigating this difficult reality.

That’s precisely where might work has changed. I’ve found it abundantly essential to turn to trauma-informed teaching because we, and our future teachers, and their future students, are traumatized and deserve to be heard. Generally known as social and emotional learning, trauma-informed teaching acknowledges our students, and their students, andweare individuals who bring the challenges and trauma of real life into our classrooms each day. Which is a lot more than could be said of any present state licensing exam.

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