"You know Miss B, this whole thing has me wondering...would you take a bullet for us? Be honest."
I've blogged about my student teaching experiences before, and how I've handled my sexuality in the classroom, dealing with the aftermath of Sandy in my school, and other experiences. However, I never expected to have students ask me if I would take a bullet for them.
After some reflection, and getting the go-ahead from my cooperating teacher, I decided to discuss Friday's shooting in my classes today by opening up with a Do Now that read "What have you heard about Newtown, Connecticut?" I figured that this would open up a conversation if students wanted to discuss it, and even if they didn't, writing a response in their journals would allow them to at least process it a bit.
I allowed the first 10-15 minutes of two of my classes for students to discuss the shooting and the fears, and my double period spent the entire first period of class discuss the shooting and why violence happens. It was a really insightful conversation. We even discussed the history of school shootings, and whether or not there's a difference between a school shooting in an elementary school versus a school shooting in a high school. My Creative Writing class talked about the shooting for about half of the period. In all of my classes, we discussed the different stories that had been emerging, as well as the differences between fact and fiction regarding internet rumors about the shooting. This led to the discussion of various individuals who had either lived or died, and how the media had conveyed them.
At one point, one of my Creative Writing students said, "You know Miss B, this whole thing has me wondering...would you take a bullet for us? Be honest." I responded, "Am I ever anything BUT honest with you?" (The question initially caught me offguard, but it was something I was asked more than once today.) Then I asked for a moment to gather my thoughts before stating the following:
"As a teacher, I feel my number one priority is to create a safe learning environment for my students, and to make them feel protected and safe. Teachers are responsible for the well-being of their students, and I'd do anything in my power to protect you from harm's way. While I hope I never have to dive in front of a bullet for any of my students, the fact of the matter is I care about all of you and would put your needs before my own, as I have done multiple times without you realizing it, because you are my responsibility, and because I care about all of you a lot."
My students trust me to protect them and support them, and I don't think I'd be okay with the idea of me not doing so. My answer might change slightly in a few years when I have a family of my own, but my students will still be my students and my responsibilities won't change.
I think that reassured them more than anything else. I've also been reiterating in all of my classes that, even when I leave on Friday (my last day of student teaching), I'm here for my students if they need to talk, and that I do care about each and every one of them oh-so much.
Victoria Soto, the teacher who hid her students in their cubbies and then took a bullet for them, has been on my mind a lot this weekend. I found myself questioning whether or not I'd have the courage to take a bullet for my students, and, at the end of the day, there is no question about it. Protecting my students and helping them succeed to the best of my abilities is a large part of being a teacher. If this meant taking a bullet for them, then yes, I would, because my students mean the world to me.
I saw this floating around Facebook today and it seemed fitting for today's post.