Thursday, March 22, 2012

They Don't Teach This in College

I woke up this morning dreading today.  To be honest, it's not today that I dread but tonight.

After a full day of teaching, we start up parent/teacher conferences at 5:00.  Since we have 55 students in our 5th and 6th grades, our conferences are more a "come if you want to" event rather than having appointments.  This amounts to me having no idea what's going to happen.  You think you have all the plates spinning at the correct speed and all the balls moving in the right direction, then a parent walks in the door and lets you know that you're a flop.  Not cool.

That's not even what I am dreading.

Tonight, after the conferences, my colleagues and I will attend the viewing for the mother of a sixth grader at our school.  Let that sink in for a second.  One of my students lost his mother this past weekend.

There comes a time in life when math and grammar and reading and history just don't matter. I am well trained in how to be a professional teacher, but no one teaches you how to deal with a kid who is grieving the loss of his mother... or a class of kids who wonder who will be next.

Cancer is running rampant in our 6th grade this year.  One girl lost her mother four years ago.  A student who withdrew earlier this year has a little brother with leukemia.  I can think of two parents (a mom and a dad) who are both cancer survivors. And those are the cases I can think of off the top of my head.

We're all going through the motions of school this week like nothing is wrong, but you've got to know that there's this underlying sadness that we're all feeling.  You've got to hand it to this kid.  He's been here all week, and I fully intend to see him today.

As I drove to school today, I allowed the somberness wash over me as I listened to my new favorite album. "Oh great God give us rest."  May God give you peace and rest today as you deal with the entire child, not just the intellect.

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