Nothing Prepares You

A student at my school died this week.

Because of the timing of the universe and how news travels these days, we had to tell them all their classmate had passed. I had to look out at a room of 30 middle schoolers and tell them that a child that was in school yesterday would not be coming back.

In my fourteen years as a teacher, it was the third time I have delivered a similar message, but the first time with every student in the school being caught completely off guard.

Nothing prepares you for days like this. There is no amount of training and life experience that can prepare you to be surrounded by grief-stricken and heartbroken teenagers and colleagues.

For all of the focus on standards, testing, etc, etc, etc – days like this really bring you into the humanity of the work we do every day.

I have spent the last two days in a state of disbelief. Today I had numerous conversations with students about how “It’s so weird. Just yesterday he was right here.”

My go-to lines today were “I am so glad to see you. I am glad you came to school today.” and “Take care this weekend. I look forward to seeing you on Monday.”

I was hoping that sitting down to write this would help me begin to process. That more words would come.  Clearly, I need more time.

I just saw something online somewhere (maybe Twitter? I apologize that now I can’t properly credit the source) along the lines of there are no bad feelings or good feelings. There are feelings.

We need to recognize and honor all that we feel.

In the end, all I can say is that I am so glad you are here. I look forward to seeing (or hearing from) you again soon. Take care of yourself and each other.

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