There’s a Place Up Ahead and I’m Goin’
My school went through a rough few days recently. While our thoughts and prayers were focused on the school in Florida, my own district was threatened. We had to take it seriously, as did law enforcement. As the community outpouring on social media wafted from supportive, frustrated, angry, supportive, and scared, education still had to continue. The show must go on. So we had school with law enforcement patrolling the hallways, parking lots, and town. It was a Monday, of course, and a holiday that we had to use as a snow makeup day. Attendance was down some due to the threat, and at times the tension was palpable.
Just as Fast as My Feet Can Fly
During the first hour of the day it was easy to see that my students were not in the best frame of mind for learning. I was reasonably sure that as the day progressed without any incidences, everyone would settle down into the normal Monday rhythm. That probably would have happened, but for the incident.
I left during the lunch hour to go just down the road to attend the memorial of one of our retired elementary principals. In fact, he was MY elementary principal, and his daughter had been in my class. My parents were both teachers as I grew up, so she and I were part of the Teachers’ Kids Club. It’s a thing. As the memorial drew to an end, I was distracted by the technological lightning storm of my phone which was in my purse at my feet. I pulled it out to check and saw right away that our district’s Facebook page was on fire with comments. As the District Communications Director, I knew I had not posted anything since the previous evening, so a flurry of activity indicated that administration had posted something in my absence. I checked. They had. A fire alarm had gone off unexpectedly in one of the buildings, so the administration put the district under a soft lock-down and alerted parents. I checked in with the superintendent who did ask me to return to assist, so I left the memorial service abruptly and headed back to school.
Come Away, Come Away If You’re Goin’
We remained in lock-down for the rest of the afternoon, sent the students home on buses guarded all the way onto those buses by law enforcement in the buildings and parking lots, without further incident. The fire alarm was investigated by school personnel and law enforcement. It would seem to be a case of just bad timing for a fluke trigger of the alarm. That’s a Monday for you.
Leave the Sinkin’ Ship Behind
Perhaps the most striking thing that dominated my thoughts on Monday was a comment made by the minister who spoke a couple days earlier at another memorial service for another good good man of our community. He talked about The Dash. When you look at someone’s life, their date of birth and date of death, the story is really in The Dash that separates the two. Wow. Now that is something to ponder. What will you accomplish in that Dash? It also applies to our school year, every year. We are currently over the halfway mark of this school year, 2017-2018, which means you are determining each day that goes by what that Dash will be.
Come On The Risin’ Wind,
I realized during my first class of the morning that my students would not be able to focus on learning, so I focused on them. We sat around a table and played my newspaper headline card game. The stress of the day slipped away for a bit while we focused on creating nonsense headlines, laughed, consoled those whose cards had all nouns and no verbs, joked, and talked about our weekends. I did not mention to them that mine had consisted of a memorial service, social media monitoring as I was given messages about the threats to post for the District, church, basketball games and band practice. No, I just listened, prompted, laughed, and enjoyed those few minutes of that stressful morning with my class. Life goes on.
We’re Goin’ Up Around the Bend
The Dash. While it is important to focus on the learning, empowering our students to be prepared for anything that their future throws at them, we can’t forget that they are kids. They matter. Their emotional well being is important, and it is also part of that Dash. While there will always be days of added stress that must be faced and endured, keep in mind that part of The Dash will supersede the learning in those moments of stress, and it is okay. Our students are learning during those times too. They learn that we can put their needs ahead of our own. They watch us handle adversity. Transitions between classes were as normal as I could make them. Fistbumps and cheerful hall greetings still went on, though widened to include law enforcement. (Okay, the police wouldn’t fistbump me, but I did get a couple to smile.) Students smiled and returned my high fives and fistbumps. Yes, learning still takes place in times like this. They learn that we are human.