On Thursday night, my daughter's high school basketball team played Newtown. Newtown, CT. We sat in the stands with the Newtown parents and cheered for our daughters. Today, I mourn for those parents. I don't know which of them have children, relatives, or friends who were killed today. And I can't stop thinking of them. I arrived home today as my youngest daughter got off the bus and just thought about how lucky I was that she was getting off that bus. Only such a fine line between me cheering for my daughter and the mother down the bleachers who had travelled from Newtown to cheer for her daughter.
As a teacher and coach, I have worked extra hard this week to compliment children since it was a week designated by my PLN as an extra kindness week. One of my favorite posts of the week was from Paul Bogush about not being able to save all of our students, a post that he wrote before the tragic events of today. His post was a powerful reminder to talk to students. Paul asked students what they wished he did more and one student responded that he wished his teacher had talked to him more. I shared Paul's post and had been mulling around a response, but after today, my response in infinitely more emotional and raw.
Talk to students. Pay attention. Recognize when someone is hurting and seek out opportunities for acts of kindness. What if someone had been a mentor to the shooter? I'm sure we'll hear more about him, but initial reports indicate that he could have used that. Maybe somewhere in the course of his life, someone would have mattered enough to him to set him on a different course, and that person would have never known how much he/she mattered to Newtown families. We don't always know the impact of our actions and words but maybe the time we take today to check in and pay attention matters. Maybe.
I can keep hoping that we do better with mental illness in this country, and I can keep hoping that we make it much, much harder to obtain weapons. I may even become more vocal about these issues. When something as horrific happens in our world, we tend to seek action and try to make something happen. Christopher Lehman wrote an incredible post here urging our leaders to enact tighter gun control laws. Oh, I admire this post, although I have yet to read it without crying.
For now, my action will be to increase my vigilance. To pay attention to the open door in our school and close it, to remind the well-intentioned students who open the locked door for me not to, to wear my ID badge and make sure that the adults in our building belong there. But more importantly, to notice the hurting child and do something for that child that matters.