Yesterday was an unusual day for me. I was not feeling well, having come down with what everyone else has gotten at some point recently at our school. Because of there being a shortage of substitute teachers, I was forced to fight my way through the day at school. I was a bit of a whiner, making sure to warn the kids so they knew to be on their best behavior, and to let them know not to get too close to me.
In one of those stressful passing period moments that are all too common in my job, a student shared that they needed to talk to me in private. They shared with me something so brave and honest that I nearly cried right there. In the back of my mind I knew that this was one of those “moments”. One of those moments where you only have one chance to have the right response and really be there and present for the kid. I did my best. And when the discussion was over I suddenly didn’t have much to complain about.
I began my next class with probably more of a smile, reminding myself that you truly never know what’s going on with your students, especially in middle school, and especially when you see so many of them in your day. Moments like these, I reminded myself, are why I do what I do. It’s not the curriculum, not the testing, not the very short summers. I’m there for the kids.
I began wondering if my “moment” of the day had been arranged in some master plan. Was I supposed to be there? What if I would have stayed home? Did i really help?
Then it was time for lunch. I joined a group of teachers that I don’t usually eat with. Someone walked in and broke the news about the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Just about everyone has had their emotional Facebook or Twitter statement regarding yesterday’s events. Many of them asked the question “why?”, and some even questioned their faith. Many statements gave credit to evil or the Devil himself. As someone who has been very honest and open about the fact that I don’t believe there is a “Devil”, I couldn’t stop wondering why something like this would happen. Are disgusting, heart wrenching events like this truly in some master plan? Or is it just flawed humans bouncing around on the planet with free will?
I can’t even begin to understand what is going on inside the hearts and minds of those Connecticut children and families involved in yesterday’s tragedy. And people are mourning all over the world, really. Talk about a “moment”.
One thing is for sure. When someone asks me where I was when I found out about the events at Sandy Hook Elementary (and it’s already happened once), I’ll be able to tell them that I was at school, not feeling well, but yet learning a big lesson about empathy and compassion.