It's been awhile since I've been here. Labor Day to be exact. Throughout my life I've used words to express my feelings in times of victory, disappointment, surprise, and the mundane every day life. But, I often feel more compelled to write when tragedy strikes. In honor of the recent tragedy in Newton, Connecticut, my teacher blog will be silent for the next few days. But, I feel like I could not go any longer without putting pen to paper, or fingerstrokes to keys.
I've taught for 13 years now and my job has become increasingly more difficult each year. The number of tasks that the typical teacher completes in any given day is astounding. From receipting field trip money, recording attendence, cleaning up vomit, calling the nurse, making sure a child has clean clothes, lunch money in a student account, one on one instruction, reteaching simple concepts until you can't teach them any longer, drying the tears of a child who has been physically hurt on the playground, or wrapping your arms around the ones who have been emotionally hurt by those they love.
There are many days where the thought of going to the bathroom doesn't even occur until after school and I sit for the very first time of the day. Once my children arrive in the morning, it is almost like we have entered a time warp and the outside world disappears. Our classroom becomes our world.
Each year, I am BLESSED with a new crop in my classroom. With that comes a new crop of parents, a new crop of personalities, challenges, victories, and love. I haven't been blessed with children of my own, but I have been chosen to care for those of others.
Each morning, parents drop their children off at school thinking they are safe and will remain that way until those little faces return to the warmth of the car or the arms of a parent/grandparent/caretaker. Those children are given to me to nurture, care for, love, and educate. A pretty tall order.
There are days where life isn't easy in our classroom. Days where we need to a new start. And then there are days that are beautiful symphonies of learning.
I spend countless hours planning for learning in my classroom, but more than that, I spend countless hours investing in the future of my students. I invest in their lives by attending sporting events, sharing their interests, writing them notes - pouring positivity into their little minds in the hopes that when life doesn't work out the way that they had planned in their future, they will remember that there was someone else in their lives who believed in them and LOVED them as if they were her own.
The teachers and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary did the very same thing.
When I stop to think of the innocent children that were hurt yesterday, I cannot help but to think of the 22 beautiful children that I see every day. The 312 children that I have taught over the last 13 years. The smiles, the dreams, the excitement of life, the opportunities that are waiting for each of them. That was all stolen from those at Sandy Hook Elementary.
I've tried to wrap my mind around what happened in Newton, but it is impossible. I've experienced lockdown drills and mock shootings to "train" me for a reality that I hope I never face. I hope I'm never faced with a situation where I am unable to protect the children in my care. I hope I never have to find hiding places or calm students who are very aware of the nightmarish reality that is occurring.
But, I would. If it meant sacrificing my life for those of my students, there would be no decision to make. I would make that decision for the children who have parents who love me. I would make it for the children whose parents disagree with me. I would make it for those children who misbehave and disrespect and love me. I would make that decision for each child I've had the opportunity to teach this year and every year before - those in my classroom or outside of it.
There were heroes in yesterday's tragedy. Those heroes were teachers. The teachers who read Christmas stories to keep their students calm. The teachers who held each child's hand. The teachers who muffled the cries of those huddled in their midst. The teachers who hid students and then lost their own lives.
When you enter your child's school this week, remember those heroes in each classroom.