Teacher's Powerful TikTok Video Shares Sad Reality of Job in Era of School Shootings

"We have to protect kids in ways we never signed up for," says seventh-grade teacher Taylor Mora

Taylor Mora
Taylor Mora. Photo: Courtesy Taylor Mora

More than 14 million people have watched a TikTok video made by a Texas teacher offering a clear-eyed glimpse of what the job is like given the prevalence of school shootings.

In the 50-second clip, 26-year-old Taylor Mora, who teaches English and language arts to seventh-graders at Garner Middle School in San Antonio, takes viewers through the daily ritual she performs in the hopes of keeping her students safe.

Mora points out the covering that goes over the window of her classroom's door. She tests the door's locks, making sure they work — and work fast. She advises keeping various hiding places within the classroom free of any encumbrances, and notes how she now lowers all of the window blinds so no one can see in from outside the school.

She posted the video in the wake of last week's massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which killed 19 students and two of their teachers.

"I wanted to show people that, as teachers, we don't just teach content and grade students," Mora tells PEOPLE. "It's much more than that. We have to protect kids in ways we never signed up for, and I wanted people to see that. We just want to keep our students safe — keep us and our students safe."

Over 3 million users have liked the video, and Mora tells PEOPLE she's been getting messages from people all across the globe.

"Looking in the comments, it's an American thing," Mora says. "I'm getting messages from people from Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and they're telling me, 'We don't understand why those things keep happening.'"

Mora hopes lawmakers will address the scourge of mass shootings, but she's not optimistic. She tells PEOPLE it is unfair to put the onus on teachers and students to be the first line of defense in a school shooting.

"We shouldn't have to go to school feeling on edge and unsafe," Mora says. "I know people love their guns here. But how many kids have to die before things change?"

She adds: "If I had to give up anything — anything — to make school shootings stop, I would. Being a teacher in America now, it's very scary, very frightening, and we need changes."

The positive response to the TikTok has made Mora "happy," she says, because "people are seeing what we have to do as teachers, and, from some of the comments I've seen, it is opening some people's eyes."

"There are so many other things we haven't tried, why are we trying to arm teachers first?," she asks. "Let's regulate some guns laws, because my classroom, it feels like a prison."

Mora notes that in the 2021-2022 school year, there were only two active shooter drills staged at Garner Middle School. Fire drills, she added, happened monthly.

"I want people to know that teachers and students, they deserve to feel safe," she says. "We need changes, with more mental health programs and gun reform. That would be at least a step in the right direction."

The school district in Uvalde has opened an official account with First State Bank of Uvalde to support Robb Elementary families affected by the tragedy. People can send checks through the mail (payable to the "Robb School Memorial Fund") or donate money through Zelle to robbschoolmemorialfund@gmail.com. People can also donate by calling 830-356-2273.

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