Saturday, December 15, 2012

Prayers for Newtown

I keep thinking about those little children.

Teachers know them well--wide eyed, full of life, ready to learn and eager to please.

I also think about the educators, counselors and administrators working tirelessly with families and the community to create a vibrant, child-friendly, responsive learning community.

I read the school's tweets: state-of-the-art messages about positive learning endeavor.

Then I think about the complexity that occurs in a school house, the stories good and bad that children bring with them everyday--life's triumphs and challenges played out through children's actions, words and care.

As a parent and a teacher, my heart breaks for the families of these little children, educators and administrators. As Ralph Fletcher describes in Fig Pudding, they have been served "a steaming bowl of sadness."

I also think of the families of those that perpetrate these crimes. These perpetrators are usually mentally ill, terribly troubled individuals whom family members have tried to lead, care for and nurture without much success. These children are most difficult people to take care of with little to no public assistance.

What can one do in the face of this tragedy?

First, be available for those you love, and make space for simple care and honest love. Even though this tragedy did not strike me personally, I am so sad when I think of the innocent children and caring educators who lost their lives.

Next, take the time in our classrooms to run our programs with care and happiness.  Find that just right pace and challenge for each child so that learning occurs with joy. If the conversation in the next few days turns to this tragedy, I will remind students that most people are good, and bad things don't happen that often, and that if a tragedy strikes, the school has a plan to keep people safe.  Then I'll share our plan in simple, straightforward terms.

After that, be mindful of those around you that are facing severe challenges.  Get the help you can, and do your best. Advocate for greater supports in society for those that face tremendous challenge with regard to mental illness, drug addiction, isolation and other similar challenges. Lobby public officials to make laws and support programs that make our country a country that supports and develops peaceful, naturally beautiful, healthy, caring communities that put children first.

Finally, when a policeman or firefighter loses their life, those in the profession show their support in the hundreds--how will teachers mark this dark day for Newtown educators and students?  How will our unions and schools reach forward to send a message of support and solidarity?  I will be thinking about that too because we have to stand together for what is right and good.