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Scary Moment in Class

Quora Question: As a Teacher, What is the Most Disturbing Thing You've Heard in Class?

When I was doing my initial student teaching, I was asked to cover another teacher’s class. One of the students wasn’t working so I went over and sat next to him and asked him why he wasn’t doing any of his work. Instead of giving me the kind of answer I expected, he said, “You know I could shoot you right now.”

I suppose if that was going to put me off from teaching, I wouldn’t have gone on to finish my student teaching and teach for 27 years.

The way I chose to handle it in the moment, and this is definitely not something you’re taught how to do in your credential classes, was to stay calm and say, “ I’m sure you could, and it would be very easy, but it would be a cowardly thing to do.”

The student looked at me with a calm, serious, intense focus and then started to work on his assignment. I stood up and calmly walked away and then as soon as the students left, I called the counselor and asked him to check the student’s bag. I’m not saying this was the right response, but it worked in this situation. I didn’t want to cause any undue alarm in the moment but I still obviously needed to address the situation.

The counselor followed up immediately and then called me back later and thanked me for the "catch." Yes, he did have a gun on him.

Final Thought: There can be scary moments at times in teaching. These types of situations happened to me a handful of times throughout my 27 years of teaching. Some students have serious issues that can be alarming. While we cannot prevent all of this, handling them with the best, calm, response can help reduce our risk.

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