So many reports of school violence speak of the impact on students, on families, on neighborhoods. Unfortunately, it often takes something so tragically sensational as the mass shooting in Newtown to highlight the pain of teachers. Teachers are often forgotten in the spectrum of suffering, when friends and families find themselves in an unwelcome spotlight. Just never forget that teachers DO hurt.
In a Detroit suburb yesterday, a young person felt the need to take his life in the bathroom of his middle school. There is no doubt that the friends and family of this young man are in agony right now, not only processing the loss, but laying blame, likely on themselves, on bullies, on social media. They are allowed this public grief and soul searching.
Teachers, on the other hand, now have the dual challenge of mourning the loss on their own, as well as serving as a support to the students and parents of the school. Standing in front of a class of 30 students, a teacher is not allowed to lose it, to scream at the sky, to question his/her faith, to wonder if there was anything more that could have been done in the classroom, after school, through a note, a sticker, a letter. In short, while teachers have to be a picture of compassion and understanding towards students, they are rarely allowed to fall apart because of those same feelings.
For teachers, there is no greater professional hurdle than losing a student. It is tragic when any young person dies. When that death is preventable, the loss is compounded. Teachers are supposed to be the eyes and ears for parents. Teachers are supposed to be teddy bear and police officer at the same time. Teachers are supposed to be superhuman in the face of some of the most tragic adversity imaginable.
Parents, teachers carry your children through life, passing them from one loving classroom to another. Your children are welcomed, acknowledged, celebrated and appreciated every day by these dedicated professionals. Some days, there is no greater reward for a teacher than a small token of recognition: a note, a hug, a phone call. Don’t forget how much they love your young ones, and when you have a moment, show them a little love in return.