A letter to every educator
I am still struggling to comprehend how and why 17 students and teachers died while doing what each one of us does everyday. There are no answers, even though we are all grappling with the questions.
I have thought about the safety of my own children, and those who I take care of every day. Blame has been pointed in many directions: Failures of systems, individuals, politicians, groups of people, and educators themselves in not protecting students from each other.
We have called for stricter gun control, increased security procedures, improved mental health care, and any number of other measures in order to end this violence in our schools.
In placing blame, searching for a reason why, and proposing solutions, we are failing the group that we are most responsible for. Students themselves have stood tall in the face of this and showed us the way forward. They have stood up to ask important questions, and to ask when we as adults will change what is happening.
As educators, we are responsible for them. If we fail one of them, we have failed them all. I believe that the only way to combat this type of violence in our schools is to begin by letting every child know that there is someone who cares about them. We need to teach our students what it is to love, to care, to understand what others are going through.
We need to show them that while we are all different, there is no difference large enough that separates us as human beings. We need to take that which makes us human-compassion, empathy, kindness, and connection- and teach to every child starting at a young age. We must not forget to continue to teach these things even after we think students have long stopped listening.
I don’t want to lose any more children. I want each child to feel like he or she is connected and cared for. I want every child to feel loved when they enter their school each day. The only way this will happen is if each one of us commits to making it happen. We can’t make excuses any longer. We can’t place any more blame. We can’t talk about the reasons why it can’t happen. There are enough of us.
Let’s find out who feels isolated. Let’s invite them in to talk. Let’s connect them with others. Let’s SHOW compassion and empathy and kindness. Let’s also MODEL the same compassion and empathy and kindness.
Do this for every child that you work with. Do it for the one child who you recognize needs our help. Do it for the kindergarten student who has trouble interacting with peers, and the graduating senior who still has time to connect. Let’s not miss any more kids. Let’s not lose any more kids.
It’s time. Time to move forward. Time to make changes. Time to care enough that we help our kids.
An Educator Who Cares