school shootings

I’m Tired Of Writing About School Shootings

I started writing about school shootings shortly after I started publishing this blog in 2011, and sadly, they haven’t stopped. In February 2012, I wrote for Yahoo news on the Washington state school shooting. On December 19, 2012, I shared my tears for the families of Newtown, and then three days later  I wrote a eulogy for the children of Newtown.

I wrote about the Arapahoe School shooting in December 2013. I wrote about gun reform in 2013, and again in 2016 when I wrote about joining Moms Demand Action and protesting to end gun violence.

I’ve been in lock downs before – many times, in many schools. The one lock down that was real was one of the most terrifying days of my life. Afterwards, I wrote about it so you could feel what I felt – you can read part 1 here: This is what a school lock down feels like part one.  I wrote it in June, 2015. I wrote This is what a school lock down feels like part two the same month. I was interviewed on school violence on a podcast in September 2015.

After the Oregon school shooting in October 2015, I wrote about arming teachers.

I wrote about Orlando in June, 2016, and then again a few days later when I couldn’t shake the sadness.

I wrote about Charlottesville in August, 2017.

And I’m writing about Parkland, Florida today in 2018 – the 19th school shooting of 2018.

Sadly, I could write about shootings and fill my blog and social media with my anger every single week. And equally sad are the school shootings I didn’t write about. Sometimes it’s just too hard – too real.

I feel helpless, paralyzed by fear and sadness, so I write. I share my grief over the children who have died and been injured, my empathy with the teachers facing the unthinkable decisions about protecting their students, and the absolutely unimaginable, unthinkable, life-altering pain of the parents who sent their kids to the safest place they knew, only to have them not return.

I’m tired of writing and crying about school shootings.

I’m tired of using the only little platform I have to shout out about how wrong it is to be forced to devote teaching time to prepare for school shootings.

I’m tired of worrying about the outside door to my building being left open, and wonder if someone has snuck in.

I’m tired of putting on my poker face to my students when I get an alert that another school shooting has happened.

I’m tired of looking out my beautiful classroom windows and wondering if I’d be the first on campus to see a shooter come to campus.

Yes, those are the things I think about as a classroom teacher – not just on days like yesterday, when an enraged student returns to their school carrying an AR-15 and takes their fury out on their classmates and teachers.

I think about this every single day. I do. I think about if I didn’t lock the door to my classroom when I quickly run down the hall. I think about the students who gather in my room at lunch to relax and read and laugh and find a safe space to just be. I think about this when I’m alone in my classroom after dark, working on lessons or cleaning desks or making copies in the staff room on the other side of campus.

And I live in a ‘safe’ area – just like Parkland, Florida thought they were safe. I live in an area where people go to huge lengths to send their children to our school district for the quality of education and the safety.

And no – I’m not paranoid. I’m alert. I’m ready to act when the lock down alert comes, or when something doesn’t feel safe. I’m no different than any other teacher that you’ve heard about on the news – except that no one has been shot at my school. And just like them, I will practice and prepare and hope that the day never comes when I have to figure out where to hide my students in my classroom – I don’t have a closet that we will fit in, but I do know what to do.

school shootings

Today, I’ll stand outside my classroom door like I always do. I’ll smile and greet kids by name. I’ll give high fives, fist bumps, and hugs to those who need them. I’ll shut the heavy metal door, leave it unlocked, and create as much love and safety and learning as I can in 50 minutes before the bell rings, the students leave, and I do it all over again.

At 3:30 I’ll pick up the stray pencils, gently fold sweatshirts left behind on the floor and re-shelve the beloved ‘relax and read’ books. I’ll pick up my beanbags, push in chairs and turn off the twinkle lights sparkling around the front classroom wall. And I’ll lock the door with me on the inside, just because. My classroom is a safe space – and it’s up to me to keep it that way.

school shootings choose kind

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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can parents go back to school

Can Parents Go Back To School?

I write frequently about education and college – mostly from the point of view of teenagers. But can parents go back to school successfully as well? Going back to school for adults certainly has unique challenges,  and yet plenty of people do it and manage to juggle studying, their family and sometimes even working too. If you’re thinking about doing it, don’t rush into it. There are a few things you might want to think about first to help make it a success!

can parents go back to school

Can Parents Go Back To School Challenge #1: Find a Flexible Way to Study

One way you could choose to do postgraduate studies when you have a family is to find a flexible way to do it. This could include finding an online course, which often allows you work at your own pace or at least makes your learning and study times more flexible.

Can Parents Go Back To School Challenge #2: Take on the Challenge as a Family

If you’re going to go back to school, you need to get the whole family on board. They don’t all have to love the idea, but it can require everyone to pitch in. Maybe the kids are going to have to take a bit more responsibility for themselves or your partner is going to have to be there to support you.

Can Parents Go Back To School Challenge #3: Find Out How Your College Can Help

A lot of colleges can offer support and resources that help to make things easier. See if your local college has a family resource center or something similar that could help you out. Many colleges offer blended distance learning and occasional face to face contact that are perfect for parents.

Can Parents Go Back To School Challenge #4: Focus on Your Future

If you’re ever unsure or ready to give up, think about what your studies will be doing for your future. The right choice of degree could have a huge impact on your life. At this point in my career, going back to school may not be monetarily sensible, but I’ve been able to channel my love of learning in different ways!

I love this little infographic – hope it inspires you parents to go back to school!


Infographic On SBU Online’s Graduate Degrees

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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online learning

How To Maximize Online Learning As An Adult

Have you taken an online class yet? The first time I did (in 2011) it was a struggle. Many of my traditional study methods didn’t transfer easily to learning and reading online, and I had to really step out of my comfort zone. It was good, though – it gave me a huge insight into how I teach my teenage students and also adult learners, and once some of the basic studying structures are re-examined, online learning is a powerful method for furthering your education.

Online learning has become one of the most popular options for studying at home, but it’s also surprisingly difficult if you’re not used to studying on your own and it’s not as effective as most people think especially if it’s the first time they’ve tried it. If you’ve never tried to learn on your own and you jump right into an online university degree, then you might be disappointed at your lack of results. To help you get the most from your online courses, we’ve put together some handy tips that will change the way you approach online learning.

online learning
Creating a distraction-free workspace is key for online learning!

Coping with realities vs expectations

Contrary to what many people believe, studying online is no easier or more difficult than studying the course at a college or university. For instance, getting a Masters in engineering management online is virtually the same as trying to get it from a prestigious college. Sure, the resources you have available to you are different, but you’ll still be able to speak with lecturers and other students and the course itself isn’t any easier because you’re studying the same things.

The reality is that if you’re not committed to your online course, then you’re not going to get anywhere. Just because you study over the internet, it doesn’t mean you can forgo a schedule. Make sure you wake up on time so that you have plenty of time to get ready for your online lessons (much like you would if you’re going to university) or at least set some time aside in the day so that you can sit down and study in peace. If you’re not invested, then you’re not going to get anything out of it and you’ll be wasting your money.

Having a dedicated place to study

When studying at home, it’s important to put together a study area where you can relax and focus. For example, you might want to use your home office as a study area, or you might want to take over your bedroom as a dedicated home classroom where you can put all of your equipment, stationery, and books.

Another good reason to use a dedicated study place is so that other members of your family or your roommates understand that, when you’re in said room or location, you’re in learning mode and others should respect that so they don’t disturb you too much. People that work from home have the same issue that they’re easily distracted by their family members or roommates, which is why setting up a dedicated learning space is ideal.

As long as you stay positive and take your online studying seriously, it’s actually fairly simple to get the most out of your course so that it’s a successful endeavor and not a waste of money that you’ll regret later in the future. Just keep your expectations in check and remember that online studying is just as difficult as studying in a university. It’s just a little more convenient, but it does mean you’ll need to invest more time and effort into making it work for you.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Inside The Mind of a Teacher-Mom: Poetry by Kaveri Patel

Inside The Mind of a Teacher-Mom: Poetry by Kaveri Patel

Going inside the mind of a teacher-mom in November feels so much like this beautiful poem by Kaveri Patel. The newness of the school year has worn off. Old habits replace the eagerness for a fresh start. Tired kids and tired teachers feed off of a desire for the long, long month to just pause, to stop the spinning and pay attention to the change of season.

Inside The Mind of a Teacher-Mom: Poetry by Kaveri Patel

I’ve written before about the teacher-mom balance. I know so many who relate to feeling like they’re pulled in too many directions and it will only take the slightest bend in a new way to s.n.a.p.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

You feel it.

Inside The Mind of a Teacher-Mom: Poetry by Kaveri Patel pumpkin

It doesn’t help that pumpkin is already being replaced by holiday silver glitter, subtly reminding us that there are only how many days left until the holiday season?

I know. I feel it.

I’m trying to stop, to listen to the wind tossing the branches against my bedroom window, to smell the last roses blooming in my backyard, to sip my coffee slowly and deliberately each morning as I attempt to fill my mind with an intention for the day.

Inside The Mind of a Teacher-Mom: Poetry by Kaveri Patel

It is with this deep gratitude and connection to all the parents and teachers trying to do their best, every day, that I share these words by Kaveri Patel with you today:

Inside The Mind of a Teacher-Mom: Poetry by Kaveri Patel

Dear you,
you who always have
so many things to do
so many places to be
your mind spinning like
fan blades at high speed
each moment always a blur
because you’re never still

Inside The Mind of a Teacher-Mom: Poetry by Kaveri Patel

I know you’re tired
I also know it’s not your fault
The constant brain-buzz is like
a swarm of bees threatening
to sting if you close your eyes
You’ve forgotten something again
You need to prepare for that or else
You should have done that differently

What if you closed your eyes?
Would the world fall
apart without you?
Or would your mind
become the open sky
flock of thoughts
flying across the sunrise
as you just watched and smiled

~ Kaveri Patel

Inside The Mind of a Teacher-Mom: Poetry by Kaveri Patel

I found this gem of a poem on A First Sip: Inspiration for Happiness, Love and Peace – if you haven’t checked out their website yet, I hope my sharing this gentle reminder helps bring more gentle beauty into your life today.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Why Moms Make Awesome Teachers

I was at a school district meeting tonight, surrounded by mostly women, many of them my age, give or take a few years. In response to a request to ‘list five aspects of our identity we would like to share with the group’, it took me less than a second to reply. “Mother”, “woman”, “writer and teacher” quickly topped my list, and I discovered that for most of the women I talked to, ‘mother’ was easily the most common descriptor. I honestly didn’t think much about it. I’m mamawolfe, mom to two, teacher to thousands, writer of stories about life in and out of the classroom.

moms make awesome teachers

It hit me first after talking to the teacher-mom of a kindergartener who identified herself as a ‘friend’ first – and after talking to me, she wanted to change her mind.

And then another woman spoke up, surprise and a bit of concern in her voice. I recognized her as a middle school teacher, and I was startled by her surprise at the numbers of self-identified mothers. She appeared stymied by the idea that we educators would not only be shouldering the responsibilities of mothering our own children but of our students as well. The overwhelm in her voice and the shake of her head struck me.

Isn’t that what mothers do best? Isn’t that why moms make awesome teachers?

Being a mother is my top priority, my deal-breaker. It’s nothing to hide behind or even consider some part of myself that would tie for first place in my identity line-up. It’s not that I always imagined myself as a mom or a teacher for that matter; I never really imagined myself as much of anything when I was younger. But after spending the last 27 years with other people’s children – then going home to my own – I slowly discovered that being a mother has not only brought out the best parts of me, it’s brought those best parts to my classroom, too.

I was a teacher long before I was a mom. I remember barely being ten years older than my students, mystified when their parents would ask me for advice about how to manage their teenage children.

Honestly, I had no idea. I remember thinking, Aren’t parents just supposed to know that stuff? Ha! Little did I know…

By the time I became a mom I was six years into teaching but kept on going. I remember 9/11 and wondering what would happen if I was off to work and never came home again. I thought often about how hard I worked to teach other peoples’ children and wondered if I  put as much energy into my own.

I struggled with the teacher-mom balance for years – until I embraced it. I am a mom first, then a teacher.

A first-year teacher recently asked me for advice on managing life and teaching, and the first word I thought of was BOUNDARIES. To be a successful working mom, to not feel as if I’m successful in the workplace without sacrificing my kids, I realized I needed strong boundaries – barbed wire type boundaries, with “NO TRESPASSING” signs dotting every five feet or so. Teaching children, serving families, is all-consuming for me. Keeping clear that my own kids come first, then my school kids has eased my guilt about not being able to always be everything for my students. But over the years, I’ve discovered that the lessons I’ve learned from being a mom have shaped who I am as an educator – and I’ve realized precisely why moms make awesome teachers.

Why Moms Make Awesome Teachers

Moms make awesome teachers because that they live the most important part of the job: moms know what it means to put kids first. Moms know how to wrap their arms around their child and make them feel safe. Moms know that nothing good happens when kids are tired or hungry or feeling sick. Awesome teachers know when kids feel loved, they do better at home and in school.

moms make awesome teachers

Moms know that being first isn’t always best and that sometimes we all need to take a breath and try again. Moms know that sometimes life gets in the way, that the dishwasher doesn’t always get unloaded and the printer runs out of ink right around bedtime the night before an essay is due.  Flexibility is a huge part of life; awesome teachers look at the big picture, not the setbacks.

Moms make awesome teachers because we know that kids come first, always, that all kids are still learning, and there are lots of ways to tie shoelaces and they all keep shoes on feet. Awesome teachers know there is not only one “right” way to do things, and individuality keeps us thinking.

Moms know that kids can be raised in the same house by the same parent with the same rules and come out to be entirely different humans and that oftentimes gender has very little to do with identity. Awesome teachers love their students unconditionally and teach them where they are.

Moms make awesome teachers because we know that sometimes the best thing to do is close the textbook and get a good night’s sleep. Awesome teachers know when to push and when to look in students’ eyes and tell them it’s OK, let me help you.

Thank you to all the awesome moms, amazing teachers and brave students out there – you make a difference in my life every single day.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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