Being a middle school teacher, I never know what kind of day any one of my 101 kids will have. From one minute to the next they can change, emotionally and physically. I am sensitive to kids behavior and ever watchful to how they treat each other in words and actions. My school is a Ben’s Bells Kind Campus, and I advocate for no bullying behavior, kind actions, and kind words. I love seeing the growth of my students both academically and socially. It is slow, and I work constantly to be patient and caring in all situations as my students progress towards being young adults who are responsible and reflective of their own behavior.
Yesterday, being “unplugged” from any social media in my room in the back of my middle school, I had no idea about the upheaval that the small Connecticut community of Sandy Hook was facing. It wasn’t until lunch that one of my colleagues told me about what had happened. Even then, the severity didn’t hit me. Trying to make a connection with my colleagues in a short 30 minute period and attempting to make personal connections with the kids in the lunch room outside of the four walls of instruction, I let the words “shooting” and “school” pass in one ear and out the other. (Too desensitized…damn.) I didn’t give it another moment of thought for the rest of the day. That is until I came home and turned on the television.
For the remainder of the evening I watched and listened crying my own tears and thinking of my students and my actions of the day…
…in the middle of last night’s tears I realized that I had told each and every class upon dismissal that I loved them. I told my first class I loved them, even then surprised at my action and questioning myself why I had said that. Then again and again I stated throughout the day when each bell rang… I love you.
In the middle of last night’s tears, I kept telling myself I had told every one of my students that I loved them. Out loud with no one in the room I repeated that I had told each of them I love you. Even before I knew about the events in Connecticut, I had told them I loved them. (Thank you divine intervention!)
In all my years of teaching, a little over 21 and primarily at the middle school level, I have never told my middle school students that I loved them. I have seldom hugged or made physical contact with them in any way other than a hand shake, a fist bump or high five. Teachers are often warned about personal contact with children (reminder to self…hug sideways).
Some of my students responded positively to my comment, some not at all, some probably didn’t even hear it. However, that is not the point. I had told them all I loved them. They know that when they come back to school on Monday that I love them. Each will be in their own state of emotional need. Even I am in my own state of emotional need. But that is not important. What is important it that even though my students are not my own children they are my kids. I will be there to give them a hug and to tell each one again…I love you.