The Ramblings of a Forever Teacher

sandy hook2

My life pretty much stopped as I heard the news about Sandy Hook.  I was shaken beyond belief.  I could not stop crying.  I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t function.  As a former first grade teacher, this hit too close to home for me, as I am sure it did for most of my followers.  My heart just aches for the entire community, the staff at Sandy Hook, and mostly for the families of the victims.

As I found solace in the camaraderie of the teaching community on Facebook, I couldn’t help but notice a post about the bravery of teachers in general.   Most of the comments were extremely positive and uplifting, but I did notice one person that expressed her “disgust” with teachers and said that she felt like we were all patting ourselves on the back.  Someone else made a comment that the staff members who died protecting their students were not special at all, what they did was “human instinct.” 

I’ve spent some time processing these comments and reflecting.  This is my response to anyone that thinks teachers are looking for a pat on the back or believe that these individuals didn’t do anything out of the ordinary…

As a teacher, there is an unspoken understanding that once those children enter my classroom, I become their “substitute mother.”  It’s not in the job description or in my contract, it is something that comes from within and just happens.  From that first day of meeting my students, they become “mine.”  I am responsible for each child  in my classroom.  I push them to do their best.  I encourage them to work hard.  I praise them endlessly and scold them when they need it.  I expect them to show their manners.  I teach them how to get along with others.  I give them hugs when they are hurt, when they do something I am proud of, or “just because.”  I hold their little hands as we walk down the hallway.  We laugh together, sing songs, and dance.  I show them how to be a good friend.  I am there to cheer them up when their feelings are hurt or when their best friend doesn’t want to play with them.  I comfort them when they are sad.  I hear every tattle and injustice in their little worlds and teach them how to handle disappointments.  I encourage and model kindness and instill empathy for others.  I tell them over and over how much I care about them, and yes, I tell them that I love them.  I invest my time and energy into each one of my students and after my day is finished, I’ve spent more time with them than my own family.  I will do everything in my power to protect them and keep them safe. 

I would die for them.

When those parents leave their children with me, it is my duty to do whatever it takes to make sure they go home safely, even if it means that my own children would be motherless. 

I would never ask for anyone to “pat me on the back.”  This is the profession I chose.  This IS my calling.  Yes, protecting a child might be a “human instinct,” but it is deeper than that.  These students are MY children.  Each one has a piece of my heart.

Teachers do extraordinary things EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Comments

  1. Kelly Cooke says

    You hit the nail on the head. I tell my kids they are mine and we are a family, from now on! They will always be mine. And today I reassured them that I would keep the safe to the best of my ability and would lay down my life for them. We are a family?

  2. Magi says

    Very well said!
    That is how I feel every day when I go to work. It’s almost like I put on my “teacher warrior armor” every morning and (quietly) charge into (a hopefully absent) battle. I work in an inner city school and our K playground is right on the street, nowhere to hide. I watch what’s going on in the street as much as, if not more than, what is going on in the playground. I have escape plans made up in my head. We protect our babies from the outside world, from the bullies on the playground, as well as the possible bullies at home. We don’t do it because of our job description, we do it because it is our chosen profession. The old saying that we do this for “June, July, and August” is no longer true. We work all year developing curriculum and materials to make our students’ education the best that it can be because we love what we do and we are professionals.

  3. Carrie says

    Amen! When people ask me how many children I have, I respond back with, ” Which ones? My school children or personal ones?”. They all hold a piece of my heart.

  4. Amy O says

    Thank you for sharing what we are all feeling and thinking. It definitely hit the nail on the head. I have already begun to work on a “favorite things” drive for the students and teachers at Sandy Hook. I am just awaiting the go ahead from my principal. We would like our students and their families to bring in items that are their “favorite things”. Things that make them feel better. I woke up Saturday morning with this intense feeling that I had to do something, other than cry and be angry. I wasn’t helping anyone by doing that. I hope that these “favorite things” lift the spirits of the students and teachers, and let them know that they are other schools praying for them. Thank you again!! God Bless You!!

    Amy

  5. jill4bama says

    Thank you for saying what so many of us are feeling. We ARE called to teach. It’s not just a job.
    On a side note: wouldn’t human instinct be to run away from danger? Just saying….

  6. Eileen says

    I too feel that the school I teach in now is a family. It was funny when I first started to teach there to hear the sisters say that’s my grandchild but here I am 15 years later feeling the same way. When the kids come back or I see them in thier community I feel a special kinship with them and their children. When I became a mother myself someone asked me if teaching helped me be a better parent and I said just the opposite being a mom has helped me be a better teacher. This is definitely not a profession to be in if you want pats on the back. They cna’t get you through the day but the smile or tug from a child will do that.

  7. Ann says

    Very well stated! After many tears were shed, I came to the same realization. That is why these events are affecting us so much. We will do anything for our children…anything! Even if that means taking a bullet for them.

  8. Judy Webber says

    Mel,
    As others stated you hit the nail on the head! I taught First Grade for years and retired as a K-2 principal 2 years ago and what you have said is how I felt every day of my teaching career. I felt that all the children plus the staff of my school were mine and I would have and still would do anything to protect them! We do it because we love the profession! Thanks for the “ramblings”!

  9. Aimee says

    I am a primary school teacher in England and have shed many tears on this event. Your words have moved me once again and I agree with every sentence. Since that terrible day I have paid extra special attention to all my year 1 children and know I would do anything for them. Thank you for those lovely words.

  10. Renay Edwards says

    It just amazes me that anyone would leave such comments about teachers!! I have raised 3 children and felt blessed every time I dropped my children off at school to be in the hands of such wonderful men and women. I now have 4 grandchildren that I feel exactly the same about! The teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary school and administration were the bravest people I know. The heroics they performed to keep the children safe goes beyond measure.. God Bless all teachers. They are beloved and second parents to all children. They are self less individuals! They spend their own money on class projects, forgotten lunches,parties, etc.. And are probably the most under paid professionally speaking. Teachers are not in it for the money. Most of them will be paying off their student loans for life..They are in it because they love the children and this is the profession they have been led to!! Thank you to all educators everywhere and always God Bless You for all your heroism!!!

  11. Dawn Garlow says

    I LOVE this and every word you wrote!!! Thank you!!! I am a Kindergarten teacher and before that I taught fourth grade for 11 years. I feel the same! Each child is “mine.” Well said!!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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