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Reflections On Yet Another School Shooting
Like so many others, I found myself sitting in my car in the school parking lot a few minutes longer than usual Wednesday morning. I didn’t know how to describe what I felt as I looked reluctantly at the office and classroom doors, watching a few teachers and students slowly trickle in for the early morning classes. It wasn’t the typical anger, disappointment, and grief that made me pause. Sadly, I’ve become accustomed to those feelings after yet another tragedy inflicted on America by gun violence. After a few minutes, it came to me: I felt… unsettled.
I pondered what I would say to colleagues and my students, simultaneously wishing I could just avoid the conversations altogether. But I knew that was not possible. As much as I wanted to restart my car, return to the comfort of my own home, and hide under the covers, I could not bring myself to do it. I let out a sigh louder than the growing sound of arriving cars and student voices beginning to fill the parking lot. What would the day bring? It only took a short prayer to provide me an important and yet simple answer: just show up.
Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up – Brene Brown
To all of the administrators, teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals, secretaries, campus security, custodians, and other support staff that make up an educational institution, thank you for continuing to show up. When you hear about these tragedies, your heart breaks for the families, friends, and communities that have been shattered. And with those broken hearts and unsettled spirits, you still continue to show up. You make a few more phone calls to family, some that you haven’t spoken to as often as you would like to. You reach out to friends you haven’t talked to in a while. You hold your own children a little tighter. As for our students, you may even look at them a little differently than you did yesterday. Tragedies like these bring out the humanity in us all.
True courage is being able to smile in the face of adversity while embracing one's own vulnerability – Unknown
It’s okay to admit to having a hard time mustering up that ever-present smile many expect educators to have. Showing our own vulnerability is not always welcomed in educational spaces, but this is not the time to be “fake” with our students. After all, students are often asking for teachers to be “real” with them. What’s more “real” than admitting we are all struggling with this latest tragedy?
In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins – not through strength but by perseverance – Confucious
Educators continue to keep students at the center through political agendas, policy shakeups, and this pandemic that seems like it will never end. We think of our families, we think of our students, and we think of the lives lost. Meanwhile, we make sure not to lose sight of ourselves as we process how we will make it through yet again. We draw from an unknown source to find the “stream of perseverance” that gives us the strength we need to face each and every day.
There are not enough words, not enough tears, and not enough heart-wrenching emotions that can express how we all feel about the lives that have been lost. I am not sure anyone knows what we can do anymore. So, to all of my educators who wish they could say more, do more, be more, I say this: you showed up today, this week, this year. That’s enough.
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