Slice of Life Challenge day 3 #sol18

As educators, we live in trying times. Answers are not black and white. How much do we shield our kids from darkness?

A Different Climate

Shuffling into the library media center, I lowered myself into a chair near the back.  Around me, I watched as my colleagues straggled in, weary from a long day of teaching.  Tension seemed to permeate our air, but it might have been just my interpretation.  Teachers huddled around the snack cart recently wheeled in, making small talk about the day.

Finally, after we had all settled into chairs, our principal began.  “Has anyone heard anything about the upcoming student walk-out?”  she asked. Our discussion that day pivoted in a direction that, I suppose was not completely unfamiliar, and yet it felt unfamiliar.  In light of the most recent school shooting tragedy in Parkland, Florida, what exactly is our role as educators? I listened as my colleagues shared their thoughts and ideas around ways we might support our students in the wake of yet another school-related tragedy.  Of course, this incident is one-of-too-many our nation has had to endure over the last nearly-twenty years.  And yet, in light of the recent mobilization and speaking out on the part of some of America’s student youth, something feels a bit different this time.

All of us agreed that, as educators, we would play no role in politicizing the issue.  We also agreed that although our students are middle schoolers, parents possessed every right to shield their sons and daughters from such a horrific “news story.”  And as I sat in my chair that day, I came to a realization I am sure many of us who work with students in educational settings have come to– we are living and teaching in a strange new era.  An era with no easy answers.  A time when grappling with unimaginable questions has become our reality.  Questions like, how much shielding should we do? How much darkness is appropriate to keep our students away from?  What level of acknowledgement is appropriate?  And when it comes to student-initiated action meant to call attention to a glaring national problem, how do we position ourselves as adults of influence?

Not surprisingly, this agenda item dominated our faculty meeting.  And while many positive ideas emerged from our discussion, resolution remained elusive.  Our principal thanked us for the thoughtful exchange of ideas, and everyone rose to leave.

But one idea had definitely risen and crystallized that afternoon.  One idea inarguably true.  One that contained not one bit of murkiness or question: We love our students.  And that is likely why all of us educate.  In this new strange time that has shaken many of us to our very core, loving our students has not changed.  Perhaps some comfort might be taken from just that.


Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

8 thoughts on “Slice of Life Challenge day 3 #sol18”

  1. Timely and true. Our kids come to us everyday with baggage we may never truly know or understand, and all we can really do is care for them, nurture them, guide them and love them. ALL of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are most definitely right. It is a strange new era in which the questions are unimaginable.

    My school had a protest last spring. April 26th to be exact. It didn’t go well, but fortunately ended without violence.

    We are not yet having this broad conversation. I keep waiting for it to happen.

    We should. I am glad your school did.

    My high school students and I are tiptoeing into the next unit- an op-ed for the NYT editorial contest. Helping them navigate their planning, research, and crafting keeps this in the forefront of my mind.

    And after last year, I am being much more deliberate about telling my students how much I value them. I always have, but now it is with intention.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “…in light of the recent mobilization and speaking out on the part of America’s student youth, something feels a bit different this time.” These words embody the faint hope that you and so many of us have, and underscore the difficulty all of you who are in the classroom with students who are awake to the current crisis face. Even parents who wish to shield their children from the travesty of school and gun violence are, in most cases, unable to do so. Social media renders that nearly impossible. In the end, as you say, it is the deep connection and caring that will console your students, the personal response to their very public and legitimate concern. I’m glad you are there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am also in a middle school we have had several emails about this topic. We have a local rally on the 24th that I hope to attend. Although I can’t walk out with students, my heart will be with them. These kids have to navigate a a strange reality.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, we love our students, and yes, parents have a right to shield their children. So hard to know how to navigate these times with fidelity, empathy, and intention. Thanks for a reflective post, Lanny!

    Liked by 1 person

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