Saturday, December 15, 2012

Might need to rethink my goals...

I find it hard to believe that we're one week away from Winter Vacation.  Despite taking a ton of pictures of my room before and after and scripting out many a story for my blog, I have failed miserably when it comes to posting anything weekly, much less daily.  Yesterday's events in Connecticut caused me to stop and break my silence, though, if only to try and work things out for myself.

I know we'll never be able to make sense of what happened- there is no sense to be made.  Millions of people are using the event in an attempt to make their positions on religious and political views heard.  I refuse to be a part of that, but due to the magnitude of what took place, I can't help but stop and ponder.  The events yesterday reminded me of the moment I realized the full capacity of my role as an educator, something that can never be totally emphasized or understood in college education classes.  So many roles are taken by an educator that aren't outlined in the yearly contract or school handbooks.

I started teaching just a little more than a year after the September 11th tragedy, and it was probably during my first month teaching that I took part in my first fire drill as a teacher.  In that moment, the enormity of my job rested on my shoulders....I was crushed under the weight of it, both figuratively and literally.  Although it was a simple drill, I remember feeling short of breath, and yet, I had to remain composed as I lead my children through the motions.  Racing through my mind, though, I just couldn't stop thinking about all those teachers at Ground Zero who weren't in a drill, trying to physically and emotionally protect their students while being overwhelmed with a total sense of uncertainty themselves.  Reading and arithmetic were thrown out the window, as teachers rushed to protect and console their children.  They became lifelines to students who, at the time, they were just barely learning their names.

I know my students are being inundated with what happened to children hundreds of miles away, and while I strive to teach them empathy, the fear and confusion that must be growing inside them makes my heart ache.   I don't want them to grow up in a society driven by fear, and yet, that's what they are surrounded by- fear of the economy, fear of being left behind, fear of those who haven't learned how to use their words to express themselves...will we as teachers be able to use this as a teachable moment?  What can I learn myself?  There is so much to share with our children that has nothing to do with textbooks, and yet, it seems we have less time every year to equip them with the necessary social, emotional, and coping skills to be successful human beings.  I don't have any children biologically, but I view my students past and present as my own.  While I have no way of telling what their future may hold, I'm doing my best to give them what wisdom I can now.  Hearing of the horrors in Connecticut, that weight bears down on me again, heavier than the weight of the high stakes testing or attendance mandates.  The weight of preparing our future for things we can not see or know.  Can I keep myself from falling under the weight and succumbing to the fear?