This morning I awoke to a blanket of snow giving our world pause to stop and reflect on the chaos that seems to have overtaken all that used to be safe harbor. The all holiday movie channels focus on the hope of the season, while the real time news blares the loss of hope. Sides are taken, lines are drawn, the talking heads spout madness about why everyone is wrong regardless of position. I want to scream for all of them to just stop talking for the sake of talking and listen. Pause and reflect on the madness. I've had to ask my husband not to watch the news before I go to work. It clouds my purpose and heavies my heart in a way I can't take to the job with me. It's not what the kids need and it's not what I need. They need to know they are safe, they need to feel normal and protected and I can't demonstrate that when I'm thinking of the news. I have spent the past several days planning window coverings and the best places in the room for hiding. I have moved furniture for easy access to block entryways. I have devised a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. I don't think I'll stop preparing, even if I get to Plan Z. I will never stop prepping until I know the threat is gone forever.
You see, I am one of the people who dedicate their lives to teaching your children. I don't have children of my own, but even if I did, I couldn't be any more dedicated to the students in my care. I celebrate their victories, I mourn their losses and I spend my days giving them my all. And yes, just like those dear teachers in Newtown, I would do anything to protect them. You see, that is what we do. We dedicate our lives to these children, to our children, for the betterment of society. We do this because we want the children of today to have the same opportunities for greatness that we all had. That is my wish, my hope, my dream for your/our kids.
However, things are changing. Kids are being forced to grow up too fast. Time that used to be spent with friends and family sharing ideas is spent playing violent video games, far to advanced and real for them to understand the true desensitizing scope of normalcy they are portraying. Video games are not real, but I'm not sure that the kids understand that anymore and it scares me. Please parents, monitor their games and their screen time. Shut off the tv and open the lines of communication instead. Send them outside in the fresh air to play. Encourage them to use their imaginations.
Artificial relationship built in space are becoming the norm. "Friends" are made online. What is an online friend anyway and why are kids allowed to even be there? The online world is just one more way for kids to grow up too quickly. Cruel words, threats, artificial alliances, all cloud the judgement of already vulnerable minds. Words are quickly typed out and whether intended or not can leave scars or open doors that can't be undone. Please parents, know where your kids are online and what they are doing. Monitor who they talk to and limit they can go.
We all need to take the time in this life to pay attention to each other, to protect each other from harms way and to value each other. Let's stop pointing fingers and rather come together in rational thought and words to figure out how to make this world a safe place for all of us. I will continue to do my part to educate our future to be independent thinkers, problem solvers and caring citizens of this great nation. I will protect them with all that I have so that they have the opportunities to be all they can. There is no greater gift than to have made a difference in the life of a child.
Today as I taught a lesson to my current 5th graders I was stopped in my tracks as a stranger walked into my class. He had a visitor's badge on and a friendly smile and it only took me a moment to recognize the former 4th grader who hated school, who had to be coaxed out of bed each morning by his mother with bribes and promises for good report days. I remember asking his parents at open house that year where his "off" switch was, to which they chuckled, "if you find it, let us know." That boy is now 16 years old and he had to go to two different schools in town to find me today. I can't tell you how happy I was that he did. You see, for me, he is the one. There may be others, I may never know, but he is the one whom I believed in even when he didn't believe in himself. That's what he came back to tell me today. He wanted me to know that he was doing well and that I was the best teacher he ever had. Did I teach him great facts? No, but I taught him he is a great person. That knowledge is what will take him far. I hope I see him again. It is now he who has taught me to believe again. To believe in the hope for the possibility that we can make a difference and that the events of last Friday will never happen again.