A San Antonio, Texas, teacher's TikTok has gone viral after sharing how she prepares for the event of an active shooter in her classroom.
Taylor Mora, 26, who teaches seventh grade English language arts, shared the TikTok on Wednesday in the wake of the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two school employees.
Mora’s TikTok began with the bleak and pragmatic steps she takes to prepare her classroom for the event of an active shooter.
"Reality of being a teacher is making sure your door can quickly lock in case there's an active threat. It's having a window cover you can quickly pull down. Loving natural sunlight but having to pull down your window cover so no one can see inside your classroom," she began. "Making sure your safe place is always cleared [and] accessible in case an active threat happens during your conference or lunch.
She went on to describe the fear of the unknown that presents itself when trying to prepare for something as unpredictable as a mass shooting.
"Creating a plan for your students but knowing there are so many, 'Well what if they came in this way or how can I hide 20 plus kids and keep them quiet when they're afraid.' Heck, I'm afraid as I was never trained for this," she explained.
In the video, Mora acknowledges that even the most well-prepared of teachers and students cannot strategize their way out of tragedies.
"Creating a plan but knowing it may not even be of use because you or the kids can easily be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's feeling guilty and sad that you get to finish the rest of the school year with all of your students when there are teachers who won’t be able to do the same. Parents that won't be able to do the same," she said. "Being a teacher and student is scary right now and it doesn't have to be this way."
Since she posted the video on Wednesday, it has received over 9 million views and over 2 million likes.
Fellow teachers in the comments shared their similar fears and anxieties surrounding school safety.
"I'm just so exhausted over it. I teach high school and I can't even imagine it with elementary kids. Recess. Assemblies. Activities in the hallway," commented one teacher.
"I go to work as a preschool teacher every single day with a plan in my head to be able to protect all my 16 students," shared another.
Other users were outraged at the notion that the burden of responsibility for such tragedies has been placed on teachers.
"It is NOT ok that they’ve pushed the responsibility onto teachers and kids. Petition your reps to do better," commented one user.
"The fact that you as a Teacher has to worry about this, it's unnerving and boils my blood ...thank you for what you do," wrote another.
Mora, who has been teaching for five years, tells Yahoo Life that she personally did not participate in active shooter drills during her K-12 educational experience. Mora's first time participating in an active shooter drill was during her time as a student-teacher in 2018.
"The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas [High School] had just happened and our school had a drill right after along with classroom discussions on the plan for if an active shooter situation were to happen at school," she says.
Mora explains that despite the preparations she takes with her students at school, preparing with active shooter drills is "difficult and very sad."
"Even though the students know that it's only a drill, you can still see the fear in their faces ... My composure is everything during these drills. If I'm freaking out and showing signs of anxiety, the students are going to do the same. If I'm calm and displaying signs of 'It's all going to be OK,' they feel at ease," she says. "Deep down inside I’m feeling just as afraid as them."
So far, she says the response to her TikTok has been "overwhelming."
"There have been teachers from different countries like Australia and New Zealand that are offering their condolences and who are also saying that it truly does not have to be this way as their country does not have these repetitive mass shootings. There are people in the U.S commenting on my video explaining that they had no idea teachers do these things daily as our only job should be teaching," she says.
Mora says she made the video because "it's important to share the reality of being a teacher in America today."
"A lot of people who are not teachers have no clue of what this job entails. They don't know that the thought of an active threat crosses our minds multiple times in a school day. They don’t know that we create plans for an active threat and hope we never have to use them. They don't know that we are always on edge for potential threats," she explains. "A lot of people think being a teacher is only teaching content, grading ... but it's also being a protector for 20+ students that are left with us every day by parents and family who love them immensely and who are waiting for them to come home alive after school."
She hopes it contextualizes the everyday fears and anxieties that plague teachers in the U.S. and leads to actionable change.
"I hope people can see that this is exhausting and unfair. Unfair to the students, to the teachers and to the parents. It's unfair and sad that things have not changed. I'm hoping that people will see that change needs to happen very, very soon," she says.
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