Monday, December 17, 2012

Today We Were Lucky

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it."  - Helen Keller
Today we were lucky.

My first graders came walking into our classroom chatting as they unpacked for the day.  They excitedly talked about the antics of their elves, the news of their weekends, and their plans for the day as they settled into our morning routine.  By 9:15 the the only sound was the push of pencils as children wrote to share the stories of their lives.  Stories of weekend sleepovers, holiday shopping, and family gatherings filled their pages.  Isn't that what it is supposed to be like to be six?

I walked around the room as they worked.  Happy to be beside them and understanding more fully today the privilege it is to be their teacher.  Knowing also I would do anything to keep them safe.  I checked in books as I chatted with students about their weekends pausing as I checked in Todd Parr's, I'm Not Scared book.  At six, you shouldn't have to be scared. 

Only I noticed the police car cruise through our parking lot at nearly the same time as the events had happened at Sandy Hook only days before.  I'm sure this will now be a more common sight as everyone tries to do whatever can be done to keep our children safe.  The stories are fresh in my mind, but I shake them away and focus on the students around me.  I am here for the six year olds in this classroom.  

Being a teacher of six year olds is full of joyous surprises.  With the holidays coming there is an extra energy in the room.  Yes, more than the usual six year old energy.  One of my students gives me the perfect gift, a poetry book called Winter's Eyes by Douglas Florian.  As I look at the book I notice a post-it and ask about the marked page.  "I'm going to read that one to you," he replies with a smile and begins to read.  Don't six year olds always make us smile?

Soon I start the music that brings us together on the carpet.  The music sings, "Hello, how are you?" as students gather in our circle of friends.  We share our stories of all that has happened since we last saw one another.  They smile over similarities in weekend events, add to thinking of friends, and laugh over funny comments.  Being six should be that simple.

Today we were able to gather and share our stories.  Stories of what childhood should be.  First grade should be about wiggly teeth and recess fun.  It should be about books, conversations and stories.  It should be about friendship, laughter, and the simple joys of life.  

You see, today we were lucky.

Note:  It's always been frightening to me the way lives can be changed in a second.  Our world can be one thing, but then in the flash of a moment become something else.   This morning as my first graders came walking into the doorway of our classroom I found myself feeling a mix of joy and sadness.  It was comforting to see them after the events of this past week at Sandy Hook Elementary.  Knowing the children in this sad tragedy were the same age as my students made it especially difficult.  Listening to the parents tell the stories of the children they lost all too soon was especially hard as they are so similar to the stories I know of the children I work with every day.  Though this event wasn't discussed in our classroom today, it weighs heavily on my heart and mind.  There are no words to help these families, but I pray for peace and strength for them.  

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