I didn't want to write about this. I didn't want to make this recent school shooting about me, to receive attention for something terrible that happened in my school district, but not to my building, family, friend or student. But since Monday, I can't get it out of my head. And in a counseling session with my 4th period today, I overheard our brilliant school counselor say something so simple. Talk about it.

It was my very first instinct to hope that school was closed the next day, not for any other reason besides the fact that I couldn't truly wrap my head around what had happened. So I was having these pretty basic responses of wanting to hide in my apartment and not come out for a very long time.

It was so easy for me to compartmentalize previous acts of violence in schools. Although I was sad and shaken at each one, none of them hit this close to home, both literally and figuratively. It became extremely real and all of the previous ones just added to the likelihood of it happening again, and again. This happened in a middle school. I work at a middle school. It happened 45 minutes away in my district. It happened to a 7th grade teacher. I teach 7th graders. He was trying to help. And I would've done the exact same thing.

I was prepared for stock answers to student's questions on Tuesday. Most of them said they were fine until 4th period. They poured their hearts out so much that I was moved to breathing out of my mouth so I didn't start crying.
"What if we have an extra extra extra code red?"
"Then we enact our lockdown procedures."
"But what if they don't work? What if the shooter comes in anyway?"
"That won't happen."
"But what if it does?"
I couldn't talk. How do you convince your students that your school is safe when you don't really believe it?

Incline is still a sleepy mountain town but there has been added security and bizarre sightings of patrol cars circling the building and men in uniform casually strolling the halls. Today, our school counselor came to help my students understand what they can do to prevent this instead of having to react to a dangerous situation of a shooter in the school. My tough, macho pubescent group of middle school boys were reduced to puddles of tears and somber stares. Most of us looked at our shoes and sniffed. I picked at my cuticles until they were bloody. And after a long talk about grief, sadness, being scared, being angry, being confused, there seemed to be a mix of half-relief and half-confusion about what has happened to our district.

I can't tell you what school shootings do to me as a teacher. Every time, I can't help but think about myself, my kids, my family, my friends, my fellow colleagues, my community. It brings me to a place of confusion, anger and incredible sadness. I put it off to the side because it literally drives me insane trying to figure it out, the whys, the hows, but mostly the whys. And as the next one inevitably transpires, I get out the same circle of impossibilities: the hows, the whys, the incredible sadness and the grief for those who I don't know, but feel like I do.

Since when did being a teacher become a dangerous profession? Since when do middle schoolers have to worry about being shot dead on their way from the bus to the school door? Since when do we have to even start thinking about how to protect ourselves and our students against guns during school, in sleepy suburbs where it's jarring to actually see a cop?

Sometimes being a teacher is a bad gig. Sometimes it's so incredibly condescending, with what the district, state and feds do with your time and your credentials. Sometimes it's hard, with what your students need from you and what you can realistically give in return. And sometimes, when you see a fellow teacher die protecting his students, you feel helpless and wrong and all-together confused but know it'd be hard to do anything different. You, as a fellow teacher, understand. And you shouldn't have to understand.

He was just doing his job.