Just This Week

Just last night over dinner I sat talking to my partner about the harder side of teaching.

“Threat assessments,” I found myself saying.  “Suicide prevention, lock-down drills and a game plan.”

I watched his eyes widen.

“Are you safe?” he asked.  “I don’t like this.  I don’t like this at all.” He had never before heard me talk about all the darker details of my daily job.  All the planning, postulating and prevention that goes in to keeping our campus protected.  All the small signs I’ve learned to watch for in struggling students, all the times we’ve called a meeting, managed a suspension, or sent a kid straight from school to the mental health ward of a hospital in order to try and keep our small little world safe.

“I want you out of the classroom,” he told me in a protectively irrational moment of fear.

“I’m fine,”  I said.  “I’m as safe as I’d be anywhere, anytime.”

Like watching the midnight premiere of a movie in my local theater, perhaps.

And then I woke to the news.

Connecticut.  As safe as anywhere.  Anytime.

And I did what all teachers do. I gasped.  I saw myself in my own classroom, with my own students.  I wondered which ones of them would have made it out alive, which ones would have fallen.  I wondered if I would have made it out alive. If I would have had the courage to protect them or would I have caved and run.  I went over the layout of my classroom in my head…”Where’s the door?  Could we get out the windows?  What’s the closest shelter once we hit the pavement and start running?”

I watched the hurt, frightened, and angry comments line up on Facebook. Once again, national outrage.  Once again, the gun debate.  Once again, finger pointing and soul searching.

So I decided to take a different view.

The view that despite the tragedy, there is more good than bad.  The view that more than danger, schools provide safety.  The view that although we’re not perfect, we’re doing damn well.

And I decided to give my own small pieces of evidence to prove it.

Like that just this week, I saw a bully sharing lunch with the kid he used to pick on.  Just this week, a student with significant disabilities sidled up to me shyly and whispered, “Is it okay if I bring you a Christmas present?”  Just this week, I caught the kid who thought he would fail bragging to a friend “Yeah, I always get A’s.  It’s just that I’m really good at Spanish.”  Just this week, the sullen girl from the beginning of the year sat gabbing in my room about how great her teachers were.  “They never talk down to me,”  she said.  “And they always think that I can do it!”  Just this week, I know of three students who got the counseling they needed because teachers intervened.

Just this week…

There was one shooting, but there were endless acts of good.

And so, without the slightest intention of minimizing the horror or tragedy for the families in Connecticut,  I’m challenging you to honor the good.  To recognize the successes that are happening every day, in every classroom, in every town.  Including Newtown.

We will learn from this.  We will get better.  But even while we heal, in tiny little classrooms and giant auditoriums across the country, the acts of kindness will outnumber the acts of horror.  The good will outdo the bad.  Hope, progress and the giggles of children learning will rise above the fear.

So let us be the good.  Tell us what you saw this week.  Leave your little bit of positivity below like a tiny prayer for victims’ families, and pass it on.

For every act of horror, let there be a thousand acts of good.

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19 Responses to Just This Week

  1. Thank you. Gotta keep fighting the good fight and this helps. Thank you for the rays of hope.

  2. Susan says:

    I was in a faculty meeting until 3:00 (I teach for a virtual charter school after 35 years in a brick and mortar.), and one of my faculty members got a text about this around lunchtime. I still haven’t watched anything. Not yet. Even teaching virtually, we have all been in the live classrooms at one time and formed those bonds with the students in our classes.

    I was listening to a talk show on the radio on the drive home, and a man phoned in, seemed to have it all together, talked about his own small kids and how the events of the day hurt him.

    “Stop shopping, get out of the mall, look at your kids, hug them even if they pull away, tell them you love them tonight, now if possible. The stores will still be open, the yardwork and housework will wait, your job will go on; your kids are more important.” Then he broke down on the air.

    ” I can’t stop thinking about how scared they were, how confused, how much in pain.”

    The hosts were very slow in responding, and then came back on the air with strained, choked voices. I had tears rolling down my face as I drove home.

    He had an important message. If everyone hugged their own kids tonight, texted the older ones as I did my 27 and 23-year-olds, took a minute to embrace what is real, how many of these events would be stopped?

    You are correct, though. When I got home, many of my students had emailed questions to me, taken tests, turned in work, passed tests, and just in general kept on keeping on.

    But I’m heartbroken for those families and that community, just heartbroken. 😦

  3. Daphne says:

    Reblogged this on Daphne Propst and commented:
    I had this same idea, but couldn’t find the right words. A sad, sad day for us all. I can only hope that good will come of it.

  4. eM says:

    There are more than a thousand. I have only compassion and love for the children, parents, siblings, families, and communities forever impacted by this single act of [I can’t think of the word]. May the healing that will come be enough, despite the inhumanity we see.

  5. I was subbing in a special need classroom when I heard the news. I, like you, played out in my head how I as a teacher would react. Would I jump in front of the door? Would I block the gunman from going further? Then I realized the complete beauty of some of the special needs kids in the school–who have no idea about mortality, and probably would have tried to stop a “bad person” before he got any further. What an awful tragedy…

    “practice doing little things with great love” St. Teresa says, and she said this during the advent season. We can get the best examples of these little things by watching the students and teachers we are around everyday.

  6. amanda evans says:

    I have been one of the “yard duty” aides @ my son’s school for 4 yrs.
    I have not been @ work since the end of November, due to bone pain in my hip.
    Just this week after a choir performance 3 of the kids that think I’m “mean” & that I “pick on them” ran up to me @ different times when they saw my crutches & asked worriedly, “Mrs Evans, What happened???”, “Does it hurt?”, “Are the Dr’s going to be able to fix it?”, “Are you going to be able to come back?” And, my favorite, from one of our older boys, “the little kids *really* miss you.”
    Their concern was palpable. 2 of them choked up.
    There us so much good in the world. Let us never forget that. Grieve the fallen & their families.Honor their memory. But then rejoice what once was & rejoice in what we all have. Dont let a devastating tradedy distract you from the beauty in the world. “Good” is contagious; Pass it on!

  7. David says:

    When I learned of the shooting, I was on my way to an event that would have been hard to imagine years ago. Tears were streaming down my face as I heard the details of the shooting, but I was determined to celebrate this event. My 32 year-old daughter was being inducted into the Honor Society for students with Special Needs at Metro in Denver. She is a brilliant young woman who struggled in school due to undiagnosed learning issues. She has had to overcome challenges all along the way. With the help of great teachers and her own perseverance and courage she is succeeding! She has become a leader and advocate in this Metro College community. I am so proud!

  8. Blyth says:

    Wish others understood the small victories we see each day. They are the things that make what we do worthwhile.

  9. Helen says:

    My boyfriend and I, both of us high school teachers, were heart-broken too. I had the same thoughts about whether or not I would put myself in harm’s way for my kids… He said this to me:

    There’s no question we would give our lives to protect our kids. When we signed up to become teachers, we also signed up to keep them safe to the best of our abilities. You don’t have to second guess yourself. You have it in you to do the right thing.


    My department chair commented on how one of my former students has been doing really well in his class. I saw this student in the hallway, congratulated him on his effort, and he said, “It’s all because of you pushing me so hard last year. Thanks, Ms!”


    Thanks, Teach, for this blog. I think we both really love what we do…

  10. A.J. Carroll says:

    It’s good to hear the good things that go on everyday or each week. We should make a point to notice these things more often. To the kid who was being bullied, his bully is now a friend. The quiet girl in the back knows someone believes in her and the kid that struggled in class now has more confidence in himself. Little things are worth noticing to those whom they affect 🙂

  11. Pingback: Just This Week | Rebuilding Rob

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