Sunday, December 16, 2012

Where do we go from here?

This is the post I created for my parents on our private classroom blog.  I thought I would share.  It is long and rambling, but it helped me prepare for tomorrow when it is my job to make the children and their families feel safe coming back to school.  Thank you for reading.  Good luck tomorrow!

Were do we go from here? After the school shooting, after the images, the shock, the rage, the disbelief, the terror, the tears, the thoughts of home schooling our children to keep them near us. Were do we go?

I believe we have several choices after witnessing such unimaginable events. We have been shown the victims, heard the stats, watched the coverage, heard from the "experts", and still our hearts are breaking. But Monday brings another school day. The attendance will be taken, reading workshop will be taught, PE, Music, Art will go on and the job of teaching and learning will go on. I promise you that I will address their fears, reassure them that they are safe, I will educate your children to the best of my ability and I will provide opportunities for them to laugh and enjoy the wonders of this season.

What do we do tomorrow as teachers? We provide your child with the routines that they are used to so they feel secure in knowing what comes next. We challenge your children to solve problems so they never feel powerless and hopeless. We provide them with the opportunity to be safe and successful academically so they can read and write and add and research so they always have the power to solve their own problems in a productive way. We broaden their minds so they can learn compassion and caring for themselves and their fellow humans. We teach tolerance, compassion and understanding to those that are different. We teach them that school is a safe place to make mistakes, to try again, to find answers, to find solutions, to find a sense of meaningful community with their peers and with the adults they encounter each day. We teach them to be responsible for their actions, to be kind to others, and to realize that they are interconnected to each and every person they come across each day. We teach them to grow, to express themselves and to seek out meaningful friendships so they never feel isolated or alone. We teach them to try their best, to never give up and to never feel defeated. We allow them to fail, to pick themselves back up and try again. We hug them, love them, protect them, cherish each child and make each moment special. We allow them to be themselves, celebrating their unique gifts. We challenge them to grow, academically and emotionally.

What do we do as parents? We hug our child extra tight before they go to school. We make sure the last thing we say each time we leave our children is "I love you very much". We don't worry about the fact that they want to wear the "crazy" outfit they picked out but instead we praise their independence and creativity. We don't waste time worrying about being five minutes late, but take the extra time to listen to the story they are telling us. We realize that each moment with our children is precious. We watch them sleep for a while. We sing with them loudly in the car. We read books with them even if we are bone tired. We set the example for them in our personal lives by not yelling at our significant others, using kind words, not cursing at the slow driver in front of us while our children are in our cars, not saying unkind things about ourselves in front of our children (like I am so fat, or stupid, or whatever negative tapes we play without thinking about it). We realize that our children learn from us so we become the adults that we want our children to grow up to be. We reassure them that they are going to a safe place to learn and that they don't need fear going to school (even though we want to home school them now just to keep them with us and keep them safe). We allow them to make mistakes and teach them that failure is not the end of the world, but just a step toward success. We get up a little early tomorrow to make pancakes and we take the time to listen to their fears and reassure them. We laugh. We drive around and look at the Christmas lights tomorrow night. We drink hot chocolate and watch Christmas specials. We read "just one more book" before they go to sleep. We help them with their homework, go over popcorn words, make them practice their hand writing even though we are so tired we just want to go to bed. We realize that the more we teach them the more powerful they will become academically, emotionally and physically so we give them a sense of accomplishment, belonging and power. We make them clean their rooms so they feel a sense of responsibility for their actions. We reward them for good choices so they feel good internally about making the right choice. We don't yell when they make a bad choice but help them figure out how they could have made a better choice. We don't allow ugliness between family members, but have family meetings to calmly and rationally solve problems. We empower them to make choices, celebrate their successes and encourage and support them when they fail. We hug them and send them to school tomorrow even though sending them to school is the last thing we want to do. We hid our fear so they can feel safe and secure. We pray, we hope and we believe in the good in the world, even though our heads and hearts are reeling at the senselessness of one selfish act committed so far away, yet so close to home. We, as a family, figure out how we can help those that are hurting around us in our community, no matter how much or how little we have. We connect, we learn, we grow so our children can follow our example so they can learn how to handle the difficult times that will arise over their life time.

As students, what do we do tomorrow? We express our fears, know that the adults in our lives will listen and reassure us. We work hard, always giving our best because that makes us feel proud of ourselves. We listen to our teachers because we know that they will keep us safe. We follow directions, because one day we (God forbid) our lives may depend on following our teachers directions immediately to stay safe. We play, we laugh, we love our learning activities and always give our best effort. We say kind words to our friends. We say kind words to those that are not our friends. We use our words to express our feelings. We don't give up when a task is difficult. We run, play, laugh, and find joy in being at school. We keep going. We keep learning. We keep trying our best. We never give up. We enjoy each moment without worrying about horrible things. We know that our school is a special place and that each adult will keep us safe, emotionally and physically.

How do we go on? We just do. It is the best thing we can do. Are we afraid? Probably. Should we be? Probably not! In times like these we have a choice to become overwhelmed by the senselessness in the world, or we make a vow to become a role model, a positive force within our own families, our own communities and in the world. Do I believe this? Absolutely! I can let this cripple me or I can use it as an opportunity to become a better teacher, mentor, mother, sister, friend, daughter and stranger to those I have never met. Is it hard? Yes. Can it be done? Yes.

I want each of you to know that I will do everything in my power tomorrow to reassure your child that they are safe and secure at school. I will become an even better teacher, friend and role model to your children. I promise I will do everything possible make tomorrow positive. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your child's life. Thank you for trusting me, and the school with our child's emotional, physical and academic security. Thank you for being so involved in your child's education that they know the adults in their lives are working together for their future. Thank you for allowing your child to come to school tomorrow. Call me if you need to. Email me. Do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable with your child leaving the safety and security of your home tomorrow. But please, hug them, tell them to have a great day, let them know that their world is still safe and secure, and then tell them that you love them and you will see them after school. The world goes on. There is much to learn. Thank you for trusting all of us at school to keep your child safe. Enjoy your day with your family. Each day is a precious gift. Celebrate each child and adult whose live was lost on Friday by making this day amazing. Realize that your job as a parent is so rewarding, so critically important and so impactful on your child. Laugh more than you cry, smile more than you frown, and make sure your words are kind, your rules are fair and firm, and your expectations for yourself and your child are high. Provide them with a "safe place to fall" and I will do the same!