In honor of our recent class discussion on classroom management I decided to delve into the topic of crisis in the classroom. I also managed to luck out and have this be a question in Jim Burke’s “Letters to a New Teacher.”
It is never easy to deal with a crisis in the classroom. Whether it be a rowdy student, a sick student, a student dealing with emotional issues, or even a community crisis. The heartbreaking death of Trinity McDonald, a Southeast High School Senior, has struck me as one of these community crisis’s. You cannot predict any crisis or any behavior, but as we discussed, you can have a plan.
“You realize at such times that you must be the one to be strong, to convey faith that such things will be fine.” (Burke, 121)
“Will be fine” is such a hard concept to try and use as comfort to our students. But that’s what we have to do. We have to be the comfort our students need as well as the support they need to move on. There is no plan for a crisis such as this other than going beyond our “job description” and being there as a caring, loving human for our “kids.”
“The point that I am trying to make, but am not doing so well, is that our work involves so much more than the report cards I turned in yesterday or the scores on the state testes we discussed for two hours this morning.” (Burke, 122)
This statement is so compelling to me because this is why I want to teach. I don’t want to be the moderator who repeats what a student can learn from a textbook. I want to be their support. Their support to learn, to achieve, to move on, and to believe that in all the darkness there is light.
During my High School years we experienced several deaths that heavily impacted the community of our school. One of the girls was actually a role model in my life. Her death struck the student body and diminished our morale. It especially hit hard to the track team. As students and athletes we were at an all time low; there was no light in this moment of darkness. However, I specifically remember our teachers and coaches never letting our sorrow and mourning block the opportunity of a future. They recognized that this was a hometown tragedy. They mourned themselves. But they did not allow that mourning to control us and destroy us. They kept spirits alive for the sake of Whitney and encouraged us to smile for her rather than cry; to run harder rather than slump.
Out of all crisis comes an opportunity for hope. We have to be that hope for our students whether it be a hometown tragedy, emotional struggle, or simply disruptive antics.