School shootings and gun violence is always close to the hearts and minds of parents who have children in school (or children who go to the movies, or concerts, or church, or Walmart…), but the solutions coming out of Washington and state legislatures have been few, weak, or nonexistent.
How, then, should parents and teachers responsible for keeping kids alive on their watch fix the problem themselves? One person has a plan, and the best part is, we don’t have to agree on how to address guns to get behind it.
The thought comes from a teacher who believes that her biggest job is not teaching her students math and history, but in guiding them along the path to becoming humans who are active and positive contributors to society as a whole.
So, once a week, she asks her students to privately write down the names of four children they’d like to sit with the following week, and then changes up her seating chart (though the kids know in advance their requests may not be granted). On the same piece of paper she asks them to nominate one student they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week, and then spends time before going home for the weekend looking through them all.
She’s not really looking to rearrange her seating chart, though she may – she’s looking for patterns, like who isn’t ever requested by anyone else, who can’t think of a single person to request, who never gets nominated, and who had a bunch of friends and now doesn’t. The teacher thinks that she can use those patterns to figure out who is falling through the cracks of the “society” of her room and school. Who struggles to connect. Who is being ignored. Who is being bullied, and likely, who is on the opposite end of the equation.
It can help her pinpoint the kids that need help making friends, help sharing their gifts, and to know who to keep an extra close eye on to make sure they’re not getting mistreated when authority figures are out of sight.
She began the practice after the Columbine High School shooting, and has done it every single week since. Her takeaway from that first (but not even close to last) school shooting was that disconnection was the underlying culprit of the violence – it began as inner loneliness, and as a desire to be noticed when you so often aren’t.
Everything has a pattern, in the mind of a math teacher – even love. Even violence, and loneliness, and what could happen next if we don’t try to stop it.
And even though there might be fewer dead if lonely, forgotten, bullied, atypical kids didn’t have access to guns, this teacher, at least, believes that no one would have to die at all if we could figure out how to help those future-shooters before the idea of revenge and notoriety even enter their minds.
Keep a keen eye out there, on your fellow humans. It might save your life – or someone else’s – if you can intervene with a little kindness at the pass.
What do you think about this system? Workable? Won’t matter?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!