I know I have not written to you in a while, but the busy days and the long hours, stressful classes, and daily challenges really got me distracted for a while. Each day is immensely challenging, full of new obstacles to jump over. Whenever I get home from school, I collapse into a heap on the couch, make dinner, and watch tv or the latest episode of West Wing. I was becoming pretty numb to my purpose until today.
I was informed early in the school day that there had been a shooting at a car wash not two minutes from school. It was a young man that was killed, and I was shocked that I was so close to something like that. My eyes had partially opened to what was going on around the community. There was an obvious stillness in the day that I was not used to. Tallulah is very small, so the community obviously was shaken from this. Not thinking much more than how shocking it was, I went on with my day like nothing had happened until my students came in.
One of my students came into the classroom and walked up to me.
“Mr. Calabro, my cousin was shot last night.”
I immediately lost any words that I had left in my throat. Instead of something that happened two minutes away, I was dealing with a student who’s family member had just been killed. The tears were real, the hug was real, and the sadness was real. What in the world would I say to my student to help support him/her? No amount of training, charisma, courage, or heart can prepare you to talk to a 3rd grade child about why someone was killed or why it was their family member.
Which leads me to the point of this blog post. It is so easy to become frustrated and without grace when I teach everyday. So many days are spent going over and over directions and discipline issues. I have had many days that I want to rip my hair out. Today helped me realize that my students are dealing with more than ANY of us reading this post have EVER dealt with. No dinner when they get home. No breakfast when they wake up. Challenges at home. Shootings in the community. Violence on the streets. All of these are things that MY students deal with each day.
No wonder they focus on things other than school at points in the day. We would do the same exact thing. I realized that the most important job in my classroom is for me to be an encourager, a supporter, a rock, and a steady positive force for my kids in a pretty shitty world. Through no choice of their own, my kids have to deal with immense obstacles, and I must do whatever it takes to get them through those each day. My students will be able to dream and see their future in their hands. A future not full of sadness and loss, but of hope and fulfilled goals and achievements. Oh and if we learn some math and reading along the way, great.