I Refuse to Be An Armed Teacher

I have been getting asked more and more whether or not I, as a teacher, would be willing to have a gun (either on me or locked in my classroom) in case of a shooting at school. But this has gone beyond people here and there asking what I think. Recently several politicians (you know who they are…right?) have publicly stated that arming teachers will put an end to the mass shootings that have been experienced by over 150,000 American students since Columbine in 1999. Yes, I specifically heard them say teachers. They are not talking about having police or armed guards in schools, that’s a different topic.

We are getting mixed signals. Teachers are told not to break up or get in the middle of a fist fight. “Call the administrator or school officer” we are told. And yet, it seems that many people outside of schools are saying that we should be breaking up school shootings. This would be significantly more dangerous. So which is it? Stay out of dangerous situations and wait for trained professionals or get yourself in there and risk getting injured (or worse…)?

So here is my response to whether or not teachers should be armed: NO. Here’s why.

1. There are plenty of teachers that have mental health issues. A lot of them. Some have full blown illnesses such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, etc. Others are just stressed to the max. Either way, as a group our mental well being isn’t the most stable. And that’s easily understandable given the difficult climate of education right now. We are not talking about issues that would stop us from being able to teach, but we also keep saying that guns shouldn’t be in the hands of people with mental issues. So if teachers with mental illness are not able to carry guns, will that affect their ability to get hired? What if all the teachers in the school have some kind of mental issue? Then that school just doesn’t get protected? 

2. Where will the time to train and practice for these scenarios come from? I have heard the argument that “police don’t train that much either”, but I don’t think that’s any excuse. So let’s say that teachers have to do annual training. Assuming this country is not asking us to give up our precious, already limited time with our families and friends, this would have to be time we are currently devoting to teaching. Is that really the best use of our professional development time? What will  we be giving up in order to make time for this? Will this mean we are less concerned about preparing our kids for post-secondary education or The Almighty Tests? I’m not a police officer. I’ve never even shot a gun. But I know there is a big difference between practice shooting at the range and training for an event like we are experiencing in American schools. This would not be a one time training and then hope your skills are sharp if/when you need them. So either we are asking teachers to give up more of their personal time, give up time in the classroom, or give up professional development time that would otherwise be used to make us better educators.  If this country is truly concerned about our education system pumping out kids who are prepared for adulthood, I’m not sure which of those options is going to get us there. 

*And please note here, I am not saying that teachers who want to carry their gun or have a gun locked away at school are in the wrong. I have talked with many teachers who have expressed they would be comfortable and willing to do it. They are typically teachers who already own guns and are comfortable using them. But I don’t think we can rely on that. Again, what if there’s a school where no one volunteers to be “that” teacher? Does that school just have to go without the same protective measures that others are getting? Will “are you comfortable being ‘that’ teacher?” be on applications now?

3.Teachers are biased. We have relationships with our students. It is one of the best, and yet most difficult, things about being a teacher. Often times, the shooters are current or former students of the school under attack. If a teacher has to put their head around a corner and decide whether or not to shoot the kid walking down the hall, that will be an incredibly difficult decision. What if it’s a kid who was in the bathroom when the lockdown started and now they are frantically jiggling door handles trying to find a room to hide in? What if they are actually the shooter? In the second or two it may take the teacher to decide whether or not to pull the trigger, it may be too late. Can you imagine the mental trauma a teacher will walk around with for the rest of their life if they shoot the wrong kid? Not to mention that the actual shooter is still active. Or what if the shooter is a student we had a bond with and we wait too long to make that decision? If teachers wanted to put themselves in a position of deciding whether or not to shoot people, we would have gone into some type of law enforcement. Assuming that because a teacher goes to the shooting range as a hobby or is a hunter they will be able to make these on the spot decisions is ignorant.

4. Public schools are government facilities and should be protected as other government facilities are. No one is asking lawyers or judges to carry guns in courthouses. Senators and their staff don’t protect the capitol building themselves. Why should teachers/principals/custodians have to? I have spent time at a government research facility. Just to get into the visitor center, we had to go through metal detectors, have our bags searched, have our IDs scanned, be on a guest list, and have a guest pass on us (all of which was after your car was searched at the parking lot gate). Now I’m not saying this is what needs to happen at every school around the country. But I am pointing out that there is a HUGE discrepancy in how we protect different facilities. There are certainly other steps we could take to protect schools instead of arming teachers. There is a reason that different careers have different job descriptions. No one person can do it all. We don’t ask police officers to offer counseling sessions to the people they arrest. We don’t ask judges to educate people about the harmful effects of drugs. We delegate these tasks and all work together. But for some reason, people think teachers can do it all. 

5. To me, the biggest issue is that arming teachers or principals or custodians or any other human in a school, if it goes correctly and according to plan, will only protect schools. The deadliest mass shooting in modern US history was at a concert venue in Las Vegas. The shooter in this event killed 58 innocent people. Roughly a year prior to that, nearly 50 people were killed in a shooting at an Orlando nightclub. Another 20 people were killed at their Sunday morning church service in Sutherland Springs, TX. We can’t arm schools and just hope for the best everywhere else. It’s just not fair. Yes, schools are government facilities, and should be protected as such. But we should also be doing something to stop these shootings from happening no matter what the location. I’ve heard many people say that arming teachers isn’t just about stopping an in-progress shooting, but scaring shooters off in the first place. “These shooters are cowards and want an easy target.” But what about all the other “easy” targets? If given the chance, they will still cause harm somewhere else. They’re not just going to see teachers armed, hang up their gun and call it a day. 

6. Last but not least, I would just like to point out that when someone outside of education tells teachers they need to be armed, it feels a lot like saying that teachers aren’t trying hard enough. And maybe this is just me being sensitive. But the fact that people think I, as a teacher, am the solution means that whatever I am doing right now isn’t good enough. People are suggesting that I’m not doing “everything I possibly can” to protect those students in my room. That honestly brings tears to my eyes. And that may  not be what these people think they are suggesting. They may think it’s just that: “a suggestion”. But what it really says it that somehow, it has become the teachers’ responsibilities to take on this gigantic, societal problem. We often have to buy our own supplies, give up time with our families and friends to work on what we have to get done, stress over whether or not we are doing enough to help each and every kid (not just academically), and now we are also being asked to stop shootings. I have to admit I am more than a little hurt and insulted. When is someone else (or something else- looking at you government) going to step up and take this one off our plates? There are a LOT of other possible solutions to this mass shooting epidemic we are in the middle of. We have to look at the options and throw out the bad ones. Focus our time and energy on solutions that are logical, possible, and will address the problem as a whole; not just one piece of it. Arming teachers is an option. But it’s not a good one.

I do appreciate you hearing me out. If you haven’t done so already, register to vote and be in frequent contact with your legislators (at all levels) no matter what you think the solution is. They need to know what we think. Having arguments on social media or writing blog posts is a great way to put your ideas out there, but these ideas need to go to the people that can do something about it. At the end of the day, we are all in this crisis together and have to keep the discussion going to come up with a solution. Feel free to leave civilized comments, I would love to hear your perspective.

Thanks for stopping by.


Are You Ready To Save Money??

As promised…. I have a gift for you!

Just to recap- because I love all my readers and FB likers so much, I am giving you a code that gets you $5 off EVERY SINGLE PIECE you buy from Megan Rusek’s LulaRoe group starting Wednesday, November 8th through Friday, November 10th (2017!). If you know and love LulaRoe, great! If you’ve never tried it… now’s the time! If it’s not for you… what about your adorable kids? Why not, it’s on sale? =)


“Get to the code, Mikos.” OK- here it is: Refuse to Reinvent the Wheel appreciates me. Send Megan a message with that code and you get $5 off all the Lula.

DON’T FORGET! I will be raffling off LulaRoe gift cards on my Facebook page all week… If you haven’t already “liked” it, get to it to be eligible to win!

Thanks again so much for all of your support!

It’s Almost Giveaway Time!


I am so very thankful that anyone wants to read what I write. I appreciate all of the teachers out there who give me their feedback, collaborate, and inspire me. As a small token of my gratitude, I have posted a giveaway on my Facebook page at Thanksgiving the past 2 years. (BTW- if you haven’t checked out and “liked” my Facebook page, stop on by! I am much more active there because I have time to write 1 sentence much more often than full blog posts. Click here!)

The past 2 years I raffled off custom lanyard keychains in the winner’s school colors. This year, I’m upping my game! A friend of mine recently started selling LulaRoe…. she is married to a teacher, so we can trust her. 😉 She has agreed to do a LulaRoe sale sponsored by Refuse to Reinvent the Wheel. Ok, I know. I’m giving you the opportunity to spend money…. that’s the opposite of a raffle.

Stay. With. Me.

For the 3 days of the sale (November 8-10, mark your calendars), I will have a “discount phrase” posted here on my blog. If you send her a message with that code, you will get $5 off EVERY PIECE you buy!! AAANNNNDDDDD- I will be raffling off TWO gift certificates for LulaRoe from Megan Rusek on my Facebook page (seriously, go like it now!). So there, that’s how much I love you! =)

In Conclusion : If you haven’t seen/liked me Facebook page, here it is. Go join Megan Rusek’s LulaRoe Facebook group so that you’re ready when the big day comes. Mark your calendars for the LulaCash giveaways and sale on November 8-10.

As always, THANKS for stopping by! =)

My Favorite Use of Wikipedia

Do your students just love Wikipedia? Do they love competitions? Do you want to see how much they know about a topic before you start and are sick of pre-tests? Are you looking for opportunities to further challenge your students that finish their work early or who are ready to move on while others in the class need another round of review?

If your answer to any of those questions was yes, then this is the blog post for you! Once again, this is not my original brain child. I don’t remember exactly where I heard about this, so if it was you then thanks. There are so many ways that you can use this technique and your students will find it strangely addicting.

I call these Wiki Relays. The idea is to get from one Wikipedia page to another in as few links as possible. Seems simple enough, right? The trick is you have to go in ahead of time and make sure there are no direct links between the two pages. This forces students to think about which links they should click that might take them in the right direction.

For example, if the task was to get from the Wikipedia page on dogs to the one on elephants:

Inkedwiki 1_LI

Here’s the page on dogs. There are no direct links you can click to take you to the page on elephants. But maybe you click the link to “Mammalia”….

Inkedwiki 2_LI

There’s no text/word link to elephants… but students might figure out that the pictures are links too! And what do we have here? A picture of elephants! CLICK.

wiki 3

And in 2 clicks, here we are on a Wikipedia page on elephants. That would be the shortest number possible.

You would think that the more students know about a topic, the shorter the number of clicks because they should know which ones will lead them in the right direction. But sometimes the link they think will get them there doesn’t… and around and around they go. They get frustrated, but can’t stop. It can actually be quite entertaining to watch. And what the kids don’t see is that you are watching their every click in the name of formative assessment! Have them write down every page they click on so that you can see who did it in the shortest number of links and give that student a prize, but also so that you can see their process. Are they just randomly clicking links? Do they have any idea what the connection between the blood and iron is? Do they know a lot about that connection and can’t decide which link will be the best?

Added bonus- you can introduce students to the Ctrl+F function (also known as how I got through graduate school). Instead of reading (change that- skimming) the entire page, if they think they know a word that might connect the two pages they can just use Ctrl+F to search for it! It’s such a valuable tool that hopefully they will take into other digital research assignments too!

Have you used Wiki Relays in your classes? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Thanks for stopping by! =)