We had parent/teacher conferences last eve. With the boys current ages of 9, 6, and 4, conferences are mostly a mix of stories about the boys, reviewing testing scores, and light-hearted chit chat.
Yesterday though, as we left, I wanted to turn around to each of them, look them in the eyes, and say, “thank you for loving my child.”
We are about 3/4 of the way through another school year and if anything has become evident to me as my children have gone through different ages and stages in the public school system it is this: teachers love their students.
That isn’t what they set out to do. It isn’t why they go into school to earn a degree. These aren’t their children, after all. They are children who are randomly selected to learn from them. But I believe they love them.
As they talk to us about our boys, I see that they know them like we do. They spend on average 35-40 hours a week with each of their students. Each being someone’s child. They care about their progress. Their personalities. Their strengths. Their weaknesses. They laugh about their quirks.
And I do believe they would lay down their lives to protect my children.
And yesterday, as I looked at each of their teachers… each young women… I thought of telling them I love them. Because after seeing another school shooting, I couldn’t help but mentally picture that teacher, their teachers, huddled in a corner over a group of children.
I couldn’t help but think of those teachers and more (like my sister) who are the one adult in a room of 25 kids who they’ve come to know like their own and how they would have to choose how and who to help in a dangerous situation.
I couldn’t help but imagine what goes through their minds each time they put their classroom through an intruder drill. Because they are fully aware of why these drills exist.
I couldn’t help but think, as I heard of another shooting this week, “Where would my kids have been during that part of their school day? Would they have been safe if they weren’t eating lunch?”
I couldn’t help but think, “What do they talk about in staff meetings when this happens. Again?”
I wanted to tell them that my fear is that one of my children might not understand the seriousness of the situation with an intruder. That he might think he could lighten the mood by telling a joke. Making noise. Drawing attention to the children in the room. I wanted to say that I fear that one of my boys might be the type to try to make it all better. To cover one of his friends or his teacher. I wanted to tell them that my boys don’t know that there haven’t always been intruder drills. And that it is so hard as a parent to even know that they have an actual threat that necessitates a drill.
I wanted to tell the teachers that I know that they signed up to teach. And so it means so much to me as a mother that they are also the protectors of my people. I wanted to hug them and tell them that if they are ever scared, especially after another shooting makes headlines, I can empathize as I am scared, too.
It was parent/teacher conferences. And as I looked around the rooms the other night I found myself wondering where the kids would go or be in a crisis situation. I wondered what goes through their minds when they have intruder drills. And how, to them, the drills are just a part of their regular. Part of their normal life. And just how weird that is.
I know it’s all necessary. Unfortunately, there need to be plans in place. And the teachers and students need to be prepared. The schools have to have more safeguards in place. Precautions need to be taken.
It is 2018 and our teachers and administrators are called to do so much beyond just teaching textbook lessons. They are called to teach life.
To my children’s teachers, I must say what I didn’t say in-person at conferences: I love you. I trust you. And I know that your career often involves so much more than you ever bargained for. You are one of the reasons that we still confidently send our children off to school. Why we believe in public education. And how we know that we can’t just back away from big things in life out of fear.
I didn’t say it in person because well, I am guessing it’s not appropriate for a mom to profess her love for you being so much more than a “teacher.” You are also, now, a gatekeeper, a crisis counselor, and so many other duties as assigned.
Thank you for teaching my children. You could do anything with your life and you have chosen to teach. Thank you. And more importantly, thank you for showing up every day, ready to take on whatever comes your way. Thank you for teaching my kids to love school, to feel safe with you, and for getting to know them for the people they are. Especially with so many things changing in our lives every day. Especially in this 2018 world we live in.
You may never know just how much your commitment means to us, as we kiss our children goodbye each morning. And welcome them back into our homes each afternoon. But not a day goes by anymore where I am not thankful for those who choose to teach. And everything that that brings with it.