Being a substitute teacher on your very first day of work must be a daunting prospect. Making sure you know just what you’re getting into and having a plan to assert your authority are key, as long as you do it the right way.
A newly minted substitute teacher in central Florida won’t be returning to class ever again after she issued an unorthodox — and totally over-the-line — threat to a classroom full of third-graders.
After what ended up being just hours into her first day, the 61-year-old substitute teacher was escorted off the premises for apparently telling a class full of third-graders that if they didn’t settle down, she would let a gunman into the classroom so he could “shoot them all in between the eyes,” allegedly dangling the classroom keys that would give the imaginary gunman access to the room in the air for a little added flair.
Oh. My. God.
After a bunch of kids told their principal what had happened, he had the teacher removed and sent out a message to parents, according to local news outlet NBC6 South Florida, letting them know about the incident. The teacher will no longer be eligible to teach in that or any other school district in Florida, which is a relief.
There are so many questions that need answers in this particular scenario, like what kind of substitute training program doesn’t include the directive to not threaten children with their death at the hands of an armed psychopath? And wow, we really want to let Florida teachers have guns in the classroom?
But mostly what we want to know is this: If this lady hates kids as much as she clearly does, why would she shackle herself to a profession in which she has to see them almost every day?
Because she definitely hates kids.
Or at least we have to assume she does, because otherwise it’s unclear why you would a) think threatening to kill a bunch of them because they were too loud or whatever is an appropriate and measured response, and b) do that using the very real, still quite raw specter of an Adam Lanza-type bogeyman.
It’s a tough time to parent a kid that age in this age, when it seems every week there’s a new mass shooting to talk about or attempt to explain — an insurmountable task that, with each new incident, becomes more Sisyphean in nature. Then there are the fears to assuage: a practically impossible undertaking that requires a parent to convince their child that they are safe in the classroom, which often feels like a lie, since you increasingly can’t know that for certain.
Third-graders are too old to not notice when this stuff comes on the news and too young to grapple with their own mortality in any meaningful way, which is why it’s so deplorable that this woman would make this comment so blithely, as if she were calmly informing a group of 8- to 9-year-olds that if they didn’t sit quietly, Santa would be skipping their house this year.
She chose instead to invoke a bogeyman, a popular parenting and teaching tactic that, while frowned upon, is still kind of effective because it appeals to fear. Only the unseen gunman is not a figment of our collective imagination, like Jenny Greenteeth, who waits for kids to get too close to the water before she pulls them under, or Krampus, who whips little children who have been naughty.
The bogeyman she chose is very real indeed.
Teaching is a tough and thankless task, and substitute teaching can be even more so. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to implement classroom management, and threatening a bunch of kids with a head shot is definitely the wrong way.