It was a very long week. I suspect I would be saying that no matter what, because the week before an extended break typically feels like the “longest week ever”, but this week was especially long in light of the tragedy at Sandy Hook.
After learning on that terrible day that a colleague’s mother works at Sandy Hook, and that it was HIS elementary school, I was even more shaken than I had been when I started to hear the reports of the heinous crime.
That night, our boys’ basketball teams had a home game. We all stood for a moment of silence. There were many eyes being dried that night. Following the game, my sons came home and hugged me tight. We talked about what happened, what teachers do, and when they asked if I would do the same my response was “I certainly HOPE SO – it’s my job to keep them safe AND I’m sure your teachers would do the same thing too.”
Over the weekend, I searched for helpful information about how I was going to talk to my students, who are around the same age as the child victims, about this horror. When they arrived Monday morning and not one of them asked or talked about, we just “kept on” They made ornaments for their parents with their pictures. They reveled in the activity, while I reflected on the fact that there may very well be 20 of the same in Connecticut that may be even more precious to parents this year. As I wiped my eyes, telling my students that I had a cold, I was so very thankful that each of them was safe.
That day, we all received an email from our Superintendent with numerous links to places where we could find information about how to talk to our students. We were also given links to help US deal with our emotions, and asked to refer anyone who appeared to have trouble coping to the counselor. It was what we needed that day – compassion, empathy and help.
As the week continued, we moved to our next ornament making day and it was an angel – a craft I had chosen long before Sandy Hook. Again, I had trouble containing MY emotions as I watched them create this ornament. Again, I told them I had a cold as I watched and wondered how 20 sets of parents were coping.
Wednesday evening was our Winter Concert Again, a moment of silence. Again, the grabbing the tissues and the arms instinctively wrapping around our children in the audience. . The last piece of the evening was our Symphonic Band playing “Silent Night” while the students from each chorus sang the first verse. It was, of course, beautiful and moving.
Yesterday, our Elementary students put on the annual “Winter Show”. Each grade level performs some song or dance or skit. The teachers get in on the act, and perform all kinds of silliness to entertain our students and their parents. Again, a moment of silence followed by the lighting of 26 candles and a stirring solo of “O Holy Night.”
We all kept on this week. We all did what our students needed. If it was not talking, we didn’t talk. If it was talking, we talked. In the lunchroom, we talked about our own security plans. We talked about the incredible pain that none of us would wish on anyone. We rallied around our colleague and stopped by to check on him. We did what I would guess teachers did all over the country – we kept going in a way that was developmentally appropriate for our students. We just kept going on……