Sunday, December 16, 2012

Reach out and touch somebody's hand, make this world a better can!

In the aftermath of the unspeakable horror and unfathomable sadness of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, we are asking, what can we do? What indeed? Part of me just wants to curl up in a ball and cry for days. But I can't do that. I have kids who need to see me in the classroom tomorrow morning, who need to know that I am there for them.

Last night, I heard the song, If I Could Have a Beer with Jesus, and I wondered what would He say about this? Is it really possible to turn the other cheek?  It is easy to blame the lack of gun control or mental illness, but what can we as a society and as individuals, do to change it?

We can help make it safe to reach out. On Tamara Fisher's blog, Unwrapping The Gifted , she writes "To a Bright Kid With Troubles" "Somewhere in your life you crossed paths with someone who got you even a tiny bit. Maybe it was a teacher from ten years ago. Or a friend from your grade school playground... or mom or dad or a sibling or a neighbor or that teacher who laughed at your joke in the hallway but you don't know his name. A school counselor, a principal, an older cousin, or grandma and grandpa... Yes, you've thought of it. That's the one. That's the person to reach out to. ..." And when they reach out, we need to be there for them.  When someone we know needs help, we shouldn't wait until they are in crisis to reach out and truly make a difference. A friend of mine once told me her advice, "Don't just say, 'how can I help?' Actually show me that you will help by showing up. Do something!"

As a teacher, my heart aches for my students, wondering how afraid they might be to come to school tomorrow. Monday will be difficult for many of our children and staff. I take it as a sacred trust to take care of these children, MY kids. As Angela Maiers states there is no lesson plan for tragedy. My intent is to let the children guide the discussion. I understand that their parents may have shared a little or as much of the tragedy as is appropriate in their home. I will not let my kids discuss the shootings, but I will reassure them that they are safe and loved in my classroom. I will let them know, They Matter.

Jackie Gerstein offers some real, concrete suggestions for teachers on her blog, and says honestly, As horrible as they are, they become teachable moments for students to feel that they count and can make a difference. Activities such as the ones described can help students heal and give students the opportunity to help heal the world. If you are a teacher, I urge you to consider her suggestions.  The one I hope to start my day with is a Sharing Circle: Have a morning circle or group to offer students the opportunity to discuss how they feel about the event. This is not a forum to discussed the details of what happened.  The news does enough of this.  The focus is on feelings.

As my 80 year old mother said to me Friday night, "I am glad that you have a plan, but I am sad that you have to have a plan."

If I could, I would probably teach for free, yet no amount of money they'd ever pay me could cover the value of what we do for our students. It is an awesome responsibility and a great honor. My heart goes out to the staff and families at Sandy Hook.

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