As a teacher of 7 and 8 year olds, the recent events at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut hit home, hard. I cannot fathom or begin to even pretend what I might do in a severe tragic situation. During the DC earthquake, before I realized why everything around me shook, I bolted from my classroom. My students were in Library class and being alone I all but ran outside before encountering a class in the hallway. I composed myself, seeing the concern in their eyes, and sat down in their single file line next to a tearful child. In consoling this little one, I myself began to feel better. Then answers came, followed by directions, and a feeling of safety.
I recognize the difference in severity, but when faced with a cause of alarm, knowing what to do and how to react can take you far.
As the news rolled in on Friday I began visualizing my classroom, the cabinets, the closets, the areas farthest from the door, and that the door only locks from the outside. I thought about my 19 students, each precious, each belonging to a family. I thought about our fire-drill plan and evacuation drill location. I wondered if I might be as brave as Vicki Soto.
Most of all I wondered about gun control and mental health advocacy and support. Everyone has an opinion on these matters and I’m not here to argue, but we can all agree something must change.
I don’t have answers, but I do have a classroom.
My classroom will remain a safe and happy place. This last week before winter break I plan on reading many wonderful stories to my students, creating many crafting opportunities, and singing happy songs. We will spread cheer and happiness. I plan to be a “helper.”