I know you're scared. I know you are watching your phone for news, thinking, This could be my school. I know you're looking around your classroom today, looking for the best place to hide your students. I know you are eyeing the doors and windows for where the closest exit is.
I know that you did not become a teacher so that you could be an expert in security codes and evacuation protocols. I know you did not think being a teacher was a life-and-death profession.
That you would suspiciously listen to the intercom every time it crackled into life, holding your breath, waiting for the words that would alert you to a violent situation. I know you are an expert at projecting a calm face and voice when your heart is leaping with fear, at continuing with a lesson when your hands are shaking with anxiety. That you crack jokes and change the subject when you are huddled with your students, during a practice lockdown or during the real thing.
I know that, if you have children of your own, your heart aches to be with them as you protect the children in your class who are no less yours. I know that you would do anything to keep them calm and safe. I know that your heart is breaking and—at the same time—swelling for the love you have for your students.
I know you are waking up this morning to a nightmare. I know you are frustrated, tired and weary of the news. I know you are wearing your coat of bravery today.
I know that you became a teacher because you believe in the future.
Keep going, Teacher. Keep rising each day with the promise of hope. Keep showing up and teaching and inspiring and giving your students all that they deserve. In the face of the unknown, keep going until our future doesn't hold this fear anymore.
A Fellow Teacher
Mascareñaz is the director of Equity Affairs for Wake County Public Schools and a former teaching and learning specialist for Teaching Tolerance.