It’s Monday. That means I should be crafting a post about the books Isabelle and I are reading now. After all, I got back into the Teach Mentor Texts’ Challenge a couple of weeks ago. But yet, today, I cannot seem to craft a blog post about books. Everything from Friday morning’s shooting in Newtown, CT is still too raw. So, no, today’s post won’t be about books. Instead it’s about heroism and the concept of show, don’t tell, something we teach young writers how to do as one way to help them write well.
SHOW: I was moved to tears by an ABCNEWS.COM story, Newtown Teacher Kept 1st Graders Calm During Massacre, about first grade teacher Kaitlin Roig who barricaded herself and her students in a bathroom to keep them safe during the shooting. And when the police came, she demanded to see badges and have them unlock the bathroom door. She showed extreme respect and caution by demanding that the first responders were who they said they were. She showed her kids they were safe when they were hiding together since she stayed in charge the entire time.
TELL: What really moved me was that Kaitlin told her students that she loved them when they were hiding together. She did this because she didn’t want the gun fire to be the last thing they heard if they died last Friday. Instead, she wanted their ears to hear words of love. In her interview with Diane Sawyer she questioned whether that was the right thing to do. Yes, it was. The fact she had the idea to tell them she loved them so she could fill their head with compassion and kindness was exactly the thing to do.
Katilin’s communicated to her students a message of strength, bravery, and courage at a time when it could’ve been easy to just shush the kids and stay silent. I’m amazed by Kaitlin’s bravery and willingness to show AND tell her students how much she loved them through her strong actions and precise words. She is a teacher hero. Furthermore, she’s an American hero.
This tragic event makes me realize that we have the power to communicate our love to our children and our students. While inappropriate to tell students “I love you,” on a daily basis there are so many ways that teachers can wield incredible power by communicating their love for the children they teach by showing them they’re loved. Creating a climate of respect where everyone gets what they need (not wants) is a way to communicate our love for students. Classrooms where bullying isn’t tolerated also shows students we love them and value them. Making spaces where the social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum is yet another way we show students we love all parts of them.
However, I am taking what Kaitlin said and have thought about how I can translate that into helping my corner of the world be a better place. And what I’m thinking is this: I can call my Senators every day and I might not get anywhere. (And yes, I called today and got a recording at one office and a response about a lack of position re: the renewal of the assault weapons ban from the other.) However, I can raise my daughter in a way that helps her know she is loved. I can show her that she’s loved by feeding her healthy food, playing with her, helping her discover the beauty of the outdoors, providing her with rich books to read, and by taking her to visit new places. I can tell her she’s loved every day, multiple times a day. I can tell her with my words, with kisses, and with hugs. By showing and telling her I know I am going to help her grow up knowing, without question, that I treasure her. And while there will be days, in the future, where I’m sure she won’t like me and I won’t like her, I never want her to doubt that she is loved. Not even for a minute.
So, thank you, Kaitlin Roig. Not just for your incredible acts of heroism, but for the message of love you gave them and for the reminder that you gave all of us that one of the most powerful things we can do is to communicate our love for others.