So, this past week I had the pleasure to teach a 6th Grade English Language Arts classroom, and boy, let me tell you, they’re a fun group. I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that every time I leave the school after teaching, I feel inspired, burdened, and excited. I love teaching. It’s so rewarding. After one of my lessons last week, a little girl came up to me after class and said, “Miss Elizabeth, you are such a great teacher.” One of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received came from a little girl I barely knew.
I taught them about culture in literature and how authors a lot of times write about personal experience. It was so much fun. I got to connect the culture of our rural, Appalachian town to the Chinese cultural novel they were reading. They were so engaged and so talkative. The pride of where they come from shown through and I knew I had succeeded.
But, sadly, that wasn’t the only thing happening in classrooms last week. As I came back home from one morning of teaching, I pulled up Facebook on my phone and saw an article that a friend had posted. (http://www.wlwt.com/news/report-of-2-people-shot-at-madison-high-school/38252402) Two students were shot by one of their peers in a school that was close to my hometown. I couldn’t imagine. I began to think of what I would have done if that had happened in my classroom that day. How would it have affected my students and the little girl who gave me a compliment? How could this happen in a setting where students were supposed to safe, loved, and learning?
It bothered me deeply. But that wasn’t all. I kept scrolling and came across another article that a friend had posted. (http://limaohio.com/news/168846/student-attempts-suicide-at-wapakoneta-high-school) At a school even closer to my hometown, a young girl tried to take her own life and her own classmate found her. I began to think if I saw anything strange from my students today. Was one of them troubled? Did anyone say anything that could have been a cry for help? Could I have helped someone?
I prayed to God to help me be the best teacher I could be, but to always remind me that I am so much more than a teacher. I am a protector. I am a mentor. I am a model. I prayed for students, mine and not mine. I prayed for peace. I prayed that God intervene and wrap his arms around schools, even the one’s that don’t want him there. I am only one person, but my God is omniscient and I know he can protect, love, and model better than I.
I’ve personally never dealt with anything traumatizing to that extent in my life, but I see it happening more and more close to home all the time. It could happen anywhere, to any student, any teacher. Tonight, I reflect back on the lesson I taught about culture and experience. If I were to write a novel, I wonder what experiences of mine would shine through. I wonder what experiences those children who went through a great trauma last week would choose to write about. I wonder what my students from my first week of teaching would write about. Am I doing a good enough job? I’m teaching, but I want to influence, protect, and show love.
I know the experiences that my students are going through right now and the rest of their school years will help determine their ideas, thoughts, and beliefs for the rest of their lives. My goal is to just positively influence my students lives so that if they ever become a writer, they have something positive to write about from when they were in 6th Grade.
God Bless Our School Systems, our Teachers, and our Students.