What to do when you don't feel safe in your classroom

Classrooms don't feel as safe anymore. School shootings and a robbery have changed my world view, so how do we heal?

Here is what happened:
“It’s the end of the school year and a ring of thieves hits schools. They are searching for stressed out teachers, who forget to lock their doors. They hit at dismissal when they can slip on campus. They found you. We are sorry.”
-Police Officer

Among the many things the thieves took, the most important was intangible. They took the feeling of protection and purity from my classroom. 

But now what? 

 I offer you a few ways to avoid being robbed in your classroom. I also offer some points of help and hope for emotional trauma.

Avoiding Danger-Number 1 : Stay aware and calm

  I was not calm the day I was robbed. I was doing a HUGE class play and I was feeling rushed and frantic.  If I had taken a moment to be calm and aware, I would have hidden my purse and locked my door. 

This is why thieves target teachers in May and June. They KNOW we are stressed and we might forget to lock our doors. 

In  slowing down and breathing you might hear that still small voice of warning. You also might notice the people that look out of place. 

My point is don't let the immediate distract you from the important. Important being safety, peace of mind, and awareness of others so that we don't turn into self consumed monsters. 

Avoiding Danger-Number 2: Hide your valuables in clever ways.

Create some space in your file box for your purse.  I say clear a whole drawer. A file box drawer is big enough to hold my purse and all the little things I need to take home like my lunch box and empty coffee cup!  If I put these things away, I'm not an easy target and my classroom doesn't have piles everywhere. 
Money that is collected for parties can be kept inside a decoy file in your file box. Here is an idea, run a bunch of counting coins worksheets, label the file "Money Unit" and keep the collected money stashed between these worksheets. Make it hard to be a target. 

But what do you do once you have become a target?

Traumatized Emotions: Grace

I was ashamed to tell my husband what had just happened to me.  I had been so careless and got robbed and now our finances are in the hands of thieves. I was going to punish and blame both the thieves and myself. 

So a very cruel tape began to play in my mind. The voice was mean and crushing. I was already traumatized and now I was being beaten down by my own inner critic and she is mean. 

Survivors are often left with the lingering thoughts and "tapes" that replay in their minds. They are left wondering if it's somehow their fault. In some cases prevention might have helped. But in other cases the choice was never yours. 

So in these moments, our self-talk is huge. 

I test the severe things I think against this question. Does this thought I'm having bring me to a place of surrender to God and hope in Him? As I replay the tape do I find myself  asking him to help me fix this?  I am asking for forgiveness and moving forward in His grace? OR does this severe self-talk bring me to a place of feeling inferior, hopeless, and ashamed. Does this "tape" lead me to the next thought of,  "I have screwed this up and it is beyond repair."  

BUT, if the thought berates me, breaks me down, and makes my soul believe that I have ended any chance of my son's future happiness, then I'm going to have to push pause on that tape. All of this because I spoke too sharply one time?  I need to stop that tape from replaying. 

Let me frame this in a way all mommies can relate to. I often replay the day or a past moment as I fall asleep. Then the  mother guilt washes over me like a wave. How could I have spoken so sharply? OMG he is going to end up divorced or in prison because I lost my and was too harsh.  Can you see the downward spiral our thoughts and self-talk can take us on?  So as the scene plays out I ask myself: Does this thought I'm having bring me to a place of surrender to God? Is there conviction in my heart that leads to be repent and then be a better mom? If so then I am going to go with it and repent and be a better mom.  If not I'm going to stop the tape. 

Our minds are designed to keep playing tapes as a way to bring us to a place of self awareness. But once we are aware and forgiven, we stop the tape when it starts again.

I just ask myself: Haven't I already repented for this?  Isn't this the tape that kept me awake all night last week? Why am I here again? This happened in 1st grade. He is 5th grade now... I need to train my brain to afford myself the grace and hope I have been offered in Christ. Can you imaging how crazy my husband would think I am if kept apologizing for the robbery? It's the same thing when we beat ourselves up when we should be offering ourselves grace. 

Traumatized Emotions: Fear
I am now terrified now of a school shooter.  This is a new and real fear.  I have a short list of things I CAN do.  Prayer is on that list. Because if I don't take this God, I'm going to be paralyzed by fear of something that I pray never happens again.  #notonemore #armmewith 

Fear has a loud voice! We need to listen to fear at a certain point. Fear helps us not do dangerous things, fear helps us not procrastinate, fear can be useful as a mobilizing factor.  We don't make a will and plans for our children in the event we die early out of happiness. We do it out of love and fear.  Fear mobilizes us to take preventive measures, make a will, and send the will to various locations in the case of a fire.  Traumatized by #ThisIsUs. Unplug all the things!

But fear that immobilizes is dangerous. That becomes anxiety and anxiety is painful. I don't have a magic pill for this beyond prepare, pray, and stop the tapes that replay and rob us of peace. 

Traumatized Emotions: Perspective to soothe anger. 

You know I am a faithful believer, But I have to be honest in my anger I actually hoped there was a special place in hell for those who commit crimes at school.   Except I realized, there is a hell and I'm not "wishing" anyone there. 

I hope that someday the thieves have this amazing testimony about how... "Long ago their soul was dead, so dead they could hurt teachers and kids without remorse." But then it all changed. With every swipe of a stolen card their life came into clearer view.  In this clarity they turned away from a life of a theif.  That's what I am praying for. That's what I think about every time I want to curse them. 

That’s my new perspective. 

I have a mighty God and His hope is to reconcile all of us back to Him. (That none shall perish but have ever lasting life) Now if I look up “none’ in the dictionary it means none… so even robbers have hope in His mercy.

I also fully understand that this is a 1st world problem.  I don't have to pay for the $4,000 worth of stuff they bought on my card. There is nothing tangible that I can't turn around and replace. I don't want to spend $1,000 to replace an iPad, wallet, and my spending money.... but it is not an impossibility. Other stories of horrific pain and trauma exist, and this robbery pales in comparison to the stories of others. 

Traumatized Emotions: Surrender
I have to choose to put these experiences, fears, and pain into God's hands. 

I choose to remind myself that this was just my "stuff" and not my "people". 

I have to pray a prayer of surrender.

I have to tell you parts of any surrender prayer can become a mantra. Things/ events happen all the time that wind me up, work me up, or break my heart, BUT in all things He is with me. I have never been alone in my pain.  

I have felt alone, afraid, brutalized, and traumatized. I have felt despair when I became aware these feelings cannot be magically erased by bucking up.

Bucking up isn't the answer. Rationalizing isn't always the answer either.  I believe the soul and our hearts are divine.  The Bible tells us that He knit us together in our mother's womb.  That speaks of divine creation.  So if we have become undone or broken in the hands of people around us, then going to the architect of our lives is sometimes the only answer. Only He can fix some of our soul's wounds.

So I take my brokenness and surrender it to Him- who has the power and is able to what others cannot.

He will make me whole and then He will be glorified. 
Part of this healing happening, though, is stopping and asking for it… 

I asked " God please intervene and fix this broken part of my heart. Help me forgive. Help me feel safe at school."  

With all the shootings... it's a prayer I pray often. Often it's the only comfort that stands up against the realities we face.

Traumatized emotions: Forgiveness
Moving forward and forgiving is the first step, Saying the prayer that welcomes Him in to heal, protect, and be with us,  is all He needs to hear.

This video is about our response to trauma. It changed my heart in 30 seconds.

The video above is pretty powerful! It should just start for you, but if not, click the play triangle or click {here}.


Release the debt.

Ask and you shall receive.

Knock and the door will be opened to you.

Surrender and have peace that passes beyond our understanding of the circumstances.

Your response to my experience or world view: 

I know this post will make some very angry. Didn't write it to make you angry. 

The Bible teaches us that sometimes he offends the mind to reveal our hearts.

I do not intend to offend. This is my story and my journey.  Grace and perceived positive intent from me is all I ask from you. 

It's OK with me if something in this post doesn't feel great. I get it. I wish I had not been robbed. But we are dealing with robbery, we have talked about school shootings, and trauma. None of this easy to navigate. 

Your comments are welcome! I do moderate for spam and cruelty. If anyone is unnecessarily unkind to me or my readers their comments will remain unpublished.   

This will remain as safe of a place as I can make it. 

With great love and grace,
Katie Knight