On Monday I will return from April vacation to 18 sweet third graders. They will be bursting to tell me and each other about what they did during our time off from school. And then someone will bring up the bombing of the streets of Boston.
As a teacher it is my cause to help my students understand, question and contribute to the wide world around them. I do this by guiding them in different ways of thinking, and they often guide me in new ways of thinking. There will be students that will be excited to talk about this latest tragedy because that is how we deal with things, by talking about them. I will not discourage that talk, but I will help to moderate it. And I worry that these young children are seeing far too many scary events this year, scary events that make them wonder, am I safe? When I spoke to the tearstained faces of my students in December about the shooting in Newtown my students were crying for lives lost, but also for their lives. This shocked some children to the core. And now a city that Maine children frequent often with families and on school trips becomes a location of yet another loss of lives due to reasons we cannot understand. I will sit in school Monday morning and this will probably come up in our Morning Meeting time. I will sit there not knowing all the perfect things to say, but I will sit there and begin to unpack the feelings my students carry with them to school, as well as begin unloading my own.
And after we have shared and pondered I will then turn my students minds to the good around them. We can't shy away from scary topics, but we can't dwell there either.
On Monday morning my students will use yet another of Peter Reynold's inspiring messages to move us forward. I will ask my students to respond to this message how they choose to, through art or writing, and we will share them around our school building.
How do you deal with difficult conversations in your classrooms?