What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School and how can we possibly make sense of such a heartbreaking situation?
Each day that we open our doors for learning we are affecting the future. Our schools are absolutely designed for curriculum goals and preparing society’s future citizens – but our job, as educators, is so much more than that. Schools are organic and dynamic. They can be a refuge from broken homes and shattered dreams. We affect students each day with our humanity and compassion for their lives and our approaches to shaping them into responsible and caring individuals.
We have a duty and obligation to prepare our students for the real world. They live in a time where horrible atrocities are possible – but these kinds of evil have always been present. The absolute horror of losing 20 first-graders and 6 educators to such an evil and inconceivable act of violence serves as a reminder of exactly what is at stake for educators and society when it comes to teaching our youth.
As educators, we are charged with the protection and care of our students. Mental health initiatives, crisis response programs and psychological assessments can help us to identify, support, and even, treat, students who are “at risk,” depressed, or disengaged from life and its values. But it is those lessons that focus on character, those projects that center on social issues, and even, those classroom conversations about events such as the Newtown shooting that allow us to educate our students about the fragility of life and the critical need to protect it.
Schools act as central places for communities that should teach to the “whole student,” and in doing so, prepare students for the outside world. There is so much more to schools than reading, writing and arithmetic (as the traditional addem goes), we need to teach the person in an individualized way, starting from where they are and focusing on what they need.
To do this, we educators, need to listen to our students and build on their strengths. We must deliver our programming in ways that increase success and grow self-esteem. We should personalize the learning for the “whole” student – body, mind and soul – to holistically prepare our youth for the world in which they live.
Some of our most powerful teachable moments come out of tragedies such as the Newtown Shooting, what terrible or devastating event have you needed to address with your students? How did you approach the situation as an educator?
During Neilʼs 9 years of teaching experience, he has taught in London, England; Ontario; public and private schools; elementary and secondary; junior; intermediate; core french; developmental skills; and now junior gifted (grades 4,5,6). He is a Reading Specialist that has been incorporating technology in his practice consistently throughout his career. Neil has recently published his first book entitled “Ignite. Incite. Inspire.” – Examining 21st Century Issues in Education, which is a collection of teaching articles and posts written from January to December 2011.