Friday, December 14, 2012

Sandy Hook School Tragedy

Sandy Hook School Tragedy

I found out first from a colleague. My first thoughts were not the worst. I felt bad that it happened again, but the magnitude hadn't set in. We were standing in a room of children working Math problems and, of course they had no idea. So, I continued the lesson, gave the assignment and sat at my computer to check the updates. I was interrupted continuously by typical classroom happenings and questions, but got enough of the story to be horrified. 

As a teacher, I played through horrible scenes in a matter of seconds. Except the setting was here. In MY school. I second guessed many of my daily "routine" habits and realized I had become lax on some things that could prevent trouble. Very quickly I realized that it would be very difficult to prevent someone really determined from getting in here. At any school. Except, I do think our staff is very alert and could react in a hurry. We have taken precautions. We have a plan in place and it will be revisited again and again. 

As a parent, I started thinking about my own kids. Were their teachers attentive to potential situations? Would they know where my kids are at every moment and be able to protect them from any harm? Again, this is an amazing staff. Some of the best professionals in the business are in this building and I know they would do their best to protect any child. However, there is just no way to know when and in what way a scenario will play out. 

Back in the classroom, I wanted to shut the door and keep the kids as close to me as possible. I wanted to keep them in from recess and put adult guards at the door. I wanted to tell them that they were safe and that they could trust me and everyone else in the building to keep this from happening here. I wanted that for their benefit -and for mine. I resisted this, because I knew we were safe. I read a primary teacher's post on Facebook exclaiming that she gave each one of her students a tight hug as they left for the day. I wanted to do this too. And I'm not a hugger. My students are a bit older, so I high-fived each as they walked out the door and told them to have a nice and safe weekend.

The truth is (and every reader will already know this) that we can simply not control every aspect of our lives. We can take many, many  actions to make our lives safer, but ultimately we just don't know how our end will come about. That is the scary part. That's what I fear about death. I guess a tragedy like this is supposed to get us thinking and re-planning and questioning. Perhaps that is what I can take from this. 

I feel great sadness and empathy for the people going through this horrific tragedy. It's impossible for me to wrap my head around any possible motivation for something of this nature. How screwed up does your wiring have to be to decide that this was the reaction needed for any situation? As the story is told in the next few days, I am sure there will be anger, fear and more sadness. I've stopped looking at the pictures on the internet for today- I can't stand the anguish and hurt I see in the parents' faces. I can pray for them.