It is with a heavy heart that I pound out this week's blog message. I am deeply troubled, and like many of my educator friends, my heart is heavy, heavier than it has ever been, so heavy I can't even find comfort in writing, which, like many of you, is my typical solace.
Generally, I consider myself a fairly positive person. I think my weekly blog messages are a testament to this. But I gotta be completely honest here, I have never had a tougher week teaching than this one.
As I find myself simultaneously sickened and drawn to the tragic stories of grief surrounding the Florida Parkland shooting that occurred on Valentine's Day, I find little comfort, few answers, much debate.
Listen, I don't have the answer. Wish I did. Wish somebody did.
And this I can promise you is the toughest job of an educator: to stand at the helm of the ship with no answers and little direction. Understand, this is one of our main jobs as a teacher: to have the answers, to guide our students into truth, knowledge, and personal revelation.
Imagine an algebra teacher at the white board with 25 faces staring at him, waiting for him to explain the mysteries of the algebraic code in bite-size pieces, ways they can understand. But all of a sudden, as he begins to explain, he realizes he does not know the answer himself. This is how I feel this week, as I see 25 different faces each period trying to make sense out of the senseless. Schools are supposed to be places students go to escape the troubles of life, a place to feel consistency, a place to feel safe.
I want my classroom to feel like a family, a place where we each look out for one another and feel comfortable, but that's hard to do
.....when the windows have to be covered
.....when the doors have to be locked as soon as we enter
.....when someone has to bang on the door just to get back in the room
.....when every bang makes my heart jump and yours
.....when we have to ask permission to leave the room as a group and ensure there is a way for
us to get back in
.....when we are suspicious of every person who dresses in dark clothing
.....when we have to wonder what is in each backpack
I am not sure what it feels like at your home, but I can promise you at my home, we don't lock the door as soon as we enter, out of fear for who might try to get in to attack us.
Don't get me wrong, I know we need to move towards stronger safety procedures, we have to. It is a shame that we have to, but I know we do.
At this point, here is the only promise I can definitively make to you. When that door locks and we are in Room 613 together, all 27 of us, there is something stronger inside the room than outside of it. There is a teacher who loves you with an everlasting love, one who would literally give up her life to protect you if that was the cost. There is artwork on my closet door and the door of my heart. On it is a display of your good work. I am proud of your good work, but more importantly, I am proud of the only thing that really matters: who you are.
Every single day when my two boys leave the house, I hug them and tell them I am proud of them. I ask them why I am proud of them. I repeat all the wonderful things they do. "Am I proud because you stayed on green, because you pitched a no-hitter, made straight A's, overcame a fear, got an A in citizenship, on and on?" They reply, "nope." Then, they answer, "You are proud of us because of who we are." So, it is with all 157 of you.
This is my condensed definition of love: to be proud of you, not for what you do, but for who you are. I hope I have shown you this time and time again this year.
The problems of this nation are complex to say the least. Who is to blame for the Parkland shootings? The shooter, the gun, the lack of security, the FBI, our culture, video games? I am not intelligent or political-minded enough to know how to break down all of the intricacies of this convoluted debate, but I lied at the beginning when I told you I do not know the answer. It is true, I don't know how we can "collectively" get to it, but that doesn't mean I don't know it. The answer, the solution, the revolution, if you will, is LOVE.
It has always been LOVE. And as you know, love can look a lot of different ways, which is where the controversy lies. It is no surprise that Nicholas Cruz picked Valentine's Day to carry out his sadistic plot. If he only knew what Dr. King (who we have been studying this week) knew all too well. You cannot kill love. It will always regenerate itself in a people who choose to respond differently than the perpetrator. I hope you will be this kind of people. I hope I will be this kind of teacher.
Always Choose Love,