As I sit here, tonight, I realize that it’s unlike any other Sunday I’ve experienced. Although, I’ve done the usual stuff. Made dinner for my family. Graded papers. Looked over the tests my students took on Friday. Agonized over the ones that didn’t do so well. How am I going to fit “re-teaching” in this week? I’ve got a few that need it, and we’re out on break on Friday. I’ve graded my college students’ last papers and submitted their final grades. Answered a few emails. But I’ve realized, I’m just going through the motions.
Why is it so different tonight? My heart is broken. You see, for all you who aren’t educators, I want you to know what we (teachers) really do. Yes, we grade papers. And of course, we teach kids. But we also talk to them. We laugh with them. And mostly; we worry. About the kid who is crying in the hall. Who said what? Who was mean? About the kid who doesn’t turn in his work…ever. Why? Who is at home helping him? All kids need help. About the stories they tell us; the good and bad. The list goes on and on.
We teachers share our lives. And it’s all consuming. For most teachers, it’s not just what we do, it’s who we are.
During my first year teaching, I had a rough day, and I wanted to go home and never come back. Standing at the copy machine with my head in my hands, and tears in my eyes, a wise mentor teacher said to me, “Those kids who demand your attention the most, need your attention the most.” She was right.
So, tonight I’m reflecting. And I’ve been very emotional. I haven’t watched one news report. We’ve kept the TV off and we’ve listened to Christmas music. “The kid” has been reading, making books, coloring, and I’ve loved watching him. He gets his little Ikea table and chair, brings it to the family room and pulls his workbooks out and says, “Teach me, mama.” It makes me smile.
I don’t know how to handle things at times, and I just try to make good decisions and do the right thing. Most of the time. And with this, I’ve had a hard time wrapping my mind around it all. Actually, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Maybe it’s because I’m a teacher. Or because there isn’t a day that I don’t think about things like this. I’m just not very strong, I think. I keep telling myself, that this isn’t really about me. It’s really about them. The kids.
So, I’ve got two goals for my school day, tomorrow:
1. To keep my shit together.
2. To make sure every kid knows I love and care about them.
It won’t be unlike any other day, just a little more difficult than usual. And with that, I do know this about my fellow colleagues. We love your kids. We think your kids are great. We feel it is an honor to be their teacher, as we know we have become an extension of your family. When they are with us, they are in our care and we take it very seriously. We will protect them the best we can and try to keep them from danger. Your child’s safety is our first priority and it trumps everything else.
We now have 26 angels. And they, along with their families and the people of Newtown, are in my prayers.
Love each other. Hold each other. Lift each other up. Give your kids an extra squeeze. I hope you all are finding peace.