Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A weird Monday...

I had tears in my eyes the whole way to work, my heart racing at how I should even respond on a day like today. I didn't even want to go to that place but knew I was completely responsible for making today as "normal" as possible. 

I visualized my classroom and decided I could fit every single one of my students in my bathroom if needed in an emergency. A 50+ year old bathroom that I have always complained about smelling so bad, has suddenly become a bit comforting to me.

I walk in the door holding my little boy's hand and drop him off in the cafeteria, as is our normal routine. I smile and tell him to have a good day, but I'm really wanting to just take him home and go get my baby girl at the daycare as well. I exchange looks with coworkers and administrators as I walk to my classroom. Lots of smiles and "Good morning!" exchanges. But their eyes look weary and nervous.

Its an understood sentiment among the teachers and staff that no one wants to be there, but yet at the same time, today is a day that a teacher's calling has never been felt stronger.

When 20 young children are killed just a few days before in the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, parents are upset. Teachers are upset. Some of the older students who understand what happened are upset. 

Since becoming a mother, I have grown to love interacting with my student's parents. I love parent conferences. I love seeing their faces beam with pride when I talk about their child. I even love seeing the loving look of concern when something is wrong. I love helping those parents who want to help their child but just don't know how. I know what they want to hear and how to word what they may not want to hear. But on this solemn Monday, I was hoping to avoid all parents because all of a sudden I couldn't tell them what they wanted to hear. I couldn't promise that their child was perfectly safe. I couldn't promise that I had what it took to keep 22 students from being harmed by a crazy person. 

As a teacher, you are responsible for the mass production of thriving and successful individuals. How devastating when that all comes to a screeching hault because of something that is completely out of a teachers control. 

That Monday was a wonderful day, however. We searched the school building for a "missing" gingerbread man that had run away. The secretary, nurse, librarian, custodian, etc. all played along as we asked them if they had seen our gingerbread man. Our secretary even sent me an email from the gingerbread man himself. We returned to our classroom to find the gingerbread man safe and sound and with a special gingerbread cookie snack at each seat. I've done this every year, but I cannot even explain the emotion that rose in me as we came in and my students reacted. Huge eyes, jumping and laughing, covering their mouths in disbelief that the gingerbread man came back with snacks for every one. One boy came to me and said, "This has been a weird day. But a really really great day!" I could not have said it better myself. 

I like to end my blog posts with a solution or an answer. A verse that wraps it up or something. But I've got nothing. I think I'm ok with the fact that through this tragedy I'm left with fear and humility. Yet at the same time I'm left with a confirmation of my calling to teach and an urgency to do it well.