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Colleges teach future educators about shootings

Posted at 5:28 PM, Sep 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-24 14:21:22-04

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Colleges are incorporating what to do in case of an active shooter into what they are teaching future educators. 

"It is something that has definitely come up every semester that we've had a lot of these issues across the country," Shanedra Nowell, an education professor at OSU and former Tulsa Public Schools teacher, said. "Basically teachers want to know how they would handle situations like that, the repercussions down the road."

Used to, Nowell said they would talk about classroom emergencies, like a child getting sick, fires or tornados. Now, she said future teachers want to talk about active shooters. 

By talking about it openly in class, she hopes to take away the fear. 

"I don't want a teacher we prepared, if something ever happened in the classroom, for them to panic," Nowell said. 

Nowell said the teacher's behavior is what creates the safe space in the classroom. 

"I think that is hard to say in the moment," Nowell said. "We would like to think it's not going to happen, but you have to be prepared for whatever may happen." 

Shelbi Gambrell and Ashleigh Sanchez, education seniors at OSU, are eager to become teachers. They have known for a while that they were meant for the classroom. 

"I am going to be the person who has to make those decisions, i think there is a sense of uncertainty but i know that i am prepared to make those decisions when i need to.

"I knew when I would go and help [my mom] in the summer and set up her classroom and organize books that that is what I wanted to do," Sanchez said. "I wanted to organize books and be in a classroom." 

"I realized I had so many incredible teachers that had made an incredible impact on me and I wanted to make an impact on future generations," Gambrell said. 

After their education at OSU they feel prepared, especially after discussing what to do in the event of an active shooter. 

"I am going to be the person who has to make those decisions," Gambrell said. "I think there is a sense of uncertainty, but I know that I am prepared to make those decisions when I need to."

Nowell tells all her students to familiarize themselves with the policies of the schools they end up working at. Each school has different procedures. 

"Basically learn those procedures early on and basically learn to follow those procedures and how to handle it without panic or fear," Nowell said. 

The students are getting hands on experience putting their decision making into play while they student teach. 

Thankfully, there have been no tragedies in their classrooms, but they have learned from their mentor teachers to address everything with the students to make them feel comfortable. 

"Have daily discussions in your morning meeting about what is going on in the world and what is going on, especially when events happen that you know kids hear about from their parents or on the news," Sanchez said. 

Obviously their job is to educate students, but Sanchez said there is much more to it. 

"It's probably 10-percent actual instruction and about all the rest is about taking care of your students, making sure they are O.K.," Sanchez said.

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