As I work to gather my thoughts about the horrific tragedy that happened on Friday, I can hardly think of anything that hasn’t already been said or thought or cried. It’s unimaginable and unthinkable, yet it happened. And all many of us can do now is to grieve and send love to those that are hurting, in Connecticut and everywhere.

But there is more that we can do in addition to grieving. In addition to praying, and sending healing thoughts.

Yes, we MUST talk about gun control. And yes, we should absolutely talk about the state of mental heath services. But also, we can make sure that every day and in every way possible we are showing love to those around us, that we are teaching empathy, and compassion and kindness.

As an elementary school teacher, a teacher of 6 and 7 year olds, this tragedy sincerely hit home for me. What if that was my school? What if those were my littles? What if that had happened to me? These thoughts and so many more have been running through my head constantly this weekend. Sometimes the images are so real that I have to stop to catch my breath.

Those innocent kids should not have had to die. It’s absolutely unfair and beyond confusing and most of all, it’s just plain messed up. I have cried a hundred tears and will surely cry a hundred more for the parents of those children who will not get to see their littles grow up into the people they were meant to be.

And then today, after I received a thoughtful and appreciative email from a parent, a whole new wave of emotions started to fall over me. I realized that tomorrow I will have to go to school in the morning. I will spend the day with my beloved little 6 and 7 year olds and it is my job do everything in my power to assure them that they are safe, and protected, and loved.

It’s the most important job, and I am proud and honored to do it.

I’ve been spending the day researching how to deal with tragedies around children.

I’ve been calling friends and family to help me work through the details of tomorrow. What will I say? How will I respond? And how will being back in school make me feel?

It won’t come easy, but I will do it, and I will try my best to do it well. Teachers everywhere will.

Send a little love to us, okay?

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If you’re interested in some of the resources I found, I’ve linked to some of the best and most helpful to me below…

Talking to Students about Violence from the National Association of School Psychologists

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Information from the Crisis Management Institute about the Sandy Hook Shooting.

Talking with Students in Response to the Sandy Hook Shooting (There is a script for teachers in this one.)

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I will carry the memory of those fallen children with me forever and I will carry the bravery of those Sandy Hook teachers, principal, and school psychologist with me throughout the rest of my days. They are heros in the hearts of people everywhere and their dedication to their students will shine on.

Comments

  1. Allie Marsh says:

    Oh boy, tomorrow is going to be tough. Thanks for the lovely post.

  2. Lauren Lynn says:

    You’ve taken the words from my mouth. I relate completely to everything you said. Tomorrow will be tough, and so will every day after that for a very long time, but we will make it through and we will do the best for our students, because we are teachers and we are strong.

  3. Lauren Lynn says:

    Same to you. Hug and love those little cherubs :)

  4. I feel much of the same way. Sure, gun control laws can be changed, and we can talk about what the school did wrong, or the shooter but really, what needs to happen is love. We need to honor and comfort and be kind and not dwell on the horrible man. He went into that school knowing he was going to be national news and a house hold name. Morgan Freeman released a statement talking about how in the case of Columbine, many of us can’t name a victim, but we can name the shooter/s. He talked about how we “sensationalize” these things and how its sick, in a way. i understand giving out facts, and names and what not, but not making the shooter greater than the victims and heros. To me, I could care less about Adam Lanza. He is a monster and what he did is clearly unforgivable and horrible and many other things. I want to respect the heroics of the teachers, staff and children. I want to honor the lost. I want to love the hurting. THAT is what we should do. I love what you said. You’re in my thoughts and prayers this morning.

    • I completely agree with Kelly. I actually just wrote a blog post for tomorrow about Sandy Hook that concluded with love. I can’t even really process the severity of what happened. It’s like my brain is trying to tell me the facts of the situation and simultaneously rejecting it. I just can’t fathom why someone would hurt one child, much less a multitude of them. I’ve been thinking about the victims and their families all weekend, struggling to shake it into myself that this is real. Thank you for writing this, Anna.

  5. i thought about you so much during this weekend, particularly as stories of heroism from first-grade teachers started to make the news. all i could think about was this happening to you, you being put in the same situation, you having to make those choices and i got so upset – i would be devastated if something like this happened to you, or if you were forced into a situation like this, which is something no elementary school teacher anywhere should have to deal with, much less think about. i can’t imagine what all the families, of teachers and students alike, are dealing with. i will keep you in my thoughts today, but i know your littles are so lucky and blessed to be coming to school today and having you guide them through this awful time. thank you for all you do as a teacher anna.

    • Those stories of the teachers that did everything they could to protect those children? I will never forget them. They will stay with me always.

      They are heros and they are amazing.

  6. Lots and lots of love to you and everyone in CT. This is a challenging time for those immediately affected, those who can relate, and everyone else too…since it feels so personal to everyone, and the “issues” it raises are central to our national culture. I think you are right on…it is important that we talk now about all the issues of “why”…those are conversations that need to be had. But it is maybe more important to reach out our hands to our communities and start living in a way that makes everyone feel a little less alone.

    Will continue to think of you and your little ones. I’m sure today will be tough, but they are lucky to have you, and you them.

  7. Sending love your way.

    Lovely post.

  8. I’m glad you wrote this. It’s so sad that it takes such tragic acts for people to start paying attention to things, especially related to mental health. But hopefully from here we will learn more about the signs, not be afraid to ask the “hard” questions to people (are you ok, do you want to talk?) and teach children to be compassionate and loving to their peers. We can only move forward from here.

  9. Oh Anna, my heart breaks for you. Today will be hard but you are strong and powerful, as a teacher and a friend, I have confidence you will find a way to make today shine for them and those around you. Sending so much love and light and peace. Xo

  10. As a future teacher, this tragedy has been on my mind a lot. I have not only been thinking about the children, teachers, and school staff at Sandy Hook Elementary, but the teachers across the country who are teaching today as well. Definitely thinking of you this morning. Thank you for doing your job and being such a loving teacher to your kiddos!

  11. Let us know how the talks with the children go. I’m really interested in seeing what questions come up and how you choose to handle them as well

    • We had a staff meeting before school where we could gather together to talk about our fears for the day/what the day might look like/how to respond to kids. It was so helpful. What we decided to do for our school (we’re pre-K through grade 3) is that we would let the students guide the discussion. We would listen to our students conversations throughout the day and bring it back to the class for discussion (or even in private on an individual basis). Meaning, it’s best not to talk about it unless it comes up. The thing is, some kids knew details where other kids knew NOTHING. So we have to be incredibly sensitive to that.

      In my class particularly, we did not have to have a group discussion about it. The kids seemed to go about their normal routine in their happy, ordinary way. This does not mean that some of them were not thinking about it, so of course I made myself VERY PRESENT with the kids all day, but I waited for my cue from them and I never found the need to bring it up.

      This is not to say it will never come up. It may come up tomorrow, or month from now, but it’s best to let the kids guide the conversation (find out what they know and don’t give them anything beyond what they don’t know).

      I’ve been in very close contact with the parents since Sunday afternoon, with emails back and forth, so that we’re all on the same page and that I’m aware of the information that each child knows/doesn’t know. That’s one of the most important rolls for me, as a teacher, to be in touch with the parents during this obviously scary time for them.

  12. On Friday, I thought of you + my other teacher friends immediately. I’m sure today was beyond difficult but I have no doubt in my mind you and your big heart stayed strong. Sending you AND your littles so much love <3

  13. Where I’ve been only able to express emotions of outrage and immense sadness and try and place blame policy and lawmakers, you’ve been able to beautifully and eloquently come up with the simple answer: MORE LOVE. Thank you so much for this sweet post. I thought about you quite a few times over the weekend and cannot even fathom the weight on your heart. I hope today went well. I will be keeping you and your class of little ones in my thoughts.

    • It did go well and I am so thankful for that. The thing about situations like this is that the grief presents itself in different ways. So although today went fine, and the rest of the week could be great, a month from now a child could say something completely “out of the blue” about it. It’s just the way a lot of kids process things. I’ll just have to wait and see and always be ready to answer the tough questions that could come my way.

  14. Perfectly said. Those kiddos are lucky to have you guiding and protecting them everyday. I’m thinking about you and sending you hugs. xoxo.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] 99% of the time, my blog is full of happiness and rainbow sprinkles and exclamation points. I had a post scheduled for today full of just that; but given the recent events in Newtown, CT I felt like I couldn’t hop right back into my TALKING IN ALL CAPS ABOUT HOW MUCH I LOVE COOKIES norm without at least taking a moment to reflect in my tiny corner of the blogosphere. As a teacher of the littlest of little ones, I can’t begin to imagine what the children, parents, teachers, and community of Sandy Hook are going through. My friend and fellow teacher Anna put her thoughts on this tragedy into words much more eloquently than I’ve been able to, so check out her post here. [...]

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