I didn’t feel very good today and knew last night that calling in sick might occur.
This also happened to coincide with the latest school shooting — this time at a high school in Florida.
It really bothered me that I wasn’t there this morning.
This news will no doubt have reached the ears of my third graders by the time the bell rings tomorrow when I hope to return.
What do I say when the topic comes up?
My little third graders will look to me wondering what to make of all of it.
As my colleagues shared with me when I chose to move to the third grade: they’re old enough to understand, young enough to still care.
They were right except now is the time I wish they were too young to understand, too young to grasp that the world around them isn’t the kind of place they can trust. A world that contains pain and suffering.
What do I say?
Two stories come to mind.
The story of a guy in a cardigan and there’s the tale of two birds.
A Man, His Cardigan, and His TV Show
Both at the beginning of every show and then at the end, the show’s host puts and takes off a cardigan.
For those that don’t yet know, the show was Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood on PBS.
You would watch this if you were in Pre-School, maybe Kindergarten. I remember watching it after school and I remember being enthralled.
There were guests: the Postman, the Firefighter, there was a good bit of puppeteering.
There was one specific episode that has been mentioned and the host’s words ring true.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” – Fred McFeely Rogers
Here’s an excerpt that includes his perspective on his mother’s words.
Here’s the episode of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.
On my way to a Scout meeting a few weeks ago I looked up and saw two small birds chasing a rather large crow.
I thought about school, school children and what happens at school.
Sometimes its the playground bully. Children who either choose to not get along or bring negative experiences from home into school. Sometimes it’s driven by a misunderstanding that to adults seems trivial, but to our students can ruin their day.
It’s frustrating at times, but so important to address if we are going to do more than teach state standards of math or reading.
I’m reminded of those three birds.
Sometimes it’s the big ol’ crow that wants to steal the eggs or terrorize the neighborhood tree where the little birds gather.
That’s when you stick up for others… there’s safety in numbers.
Just like those two other birds chasing the big bird away from their tree, from their home.
We have to stick up for each other. We have to remember that the student who stays to them-self, probably wants anything but to be alone. We need to teach our students the importance of thinking of others, of caring for people beyond themselves.
Perhaps tomorrow I will start the morning by putting on a cardigan – and hope to bring familiarity and comfort to my third graders, just like Mr. Rogers did.