Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Teacher's Broken Heart

F5 Tornado
May 20, 2013
Moore, Oklahoma

Yesterday, I closed the door on my classroom for the last time this school year.  My classroom was cleaned and my materials were locked away.  My walls were bare and white.  I had planned on coming home and posting a happy little blog post about how great my first year was.  I got in my car, went to Sonic for my mom and her boss, then headed to Wal-Mart listening to the weather warnings on the radio.  When I went in to Wal-Mart they were watching a storm with possible tornadic activity.  When I came out, less than an hour later, I was listening to reports of damage and destruction that had hit the town of Moore, Oklahoma.  Out of all the reports I was hearing--they were all heart-breaking, the ones that stood out to me were the two reports about schools where students and teachers were trapped.

Briarwood Elementary School
Plaza Towers Elementary School
I bet just about any teacher out there has complained at some point or another about the number of drills we are required to have every school year.  Weather drills, security drills, fire drills--they all are things that take out of our instructional time.  We complain because that is time that could be spent learning, and it is hard to get the students back on track after a drill.  I have an added complaint because in my classroom, drills are emotional every time.  My students don't like their routine changed.  They do not like having to be in small places.  They don't understand that we are practicing for a future potentially dangerous event.  We generally have at least one meltdown during any given drill.  I dread having drills.

Yet, in that moment, hearing Kelly Ogle talk about the numbers of people trapped inside those schools, I was so very thankful for every drill I have ever had the PRIVILEGE to take part in.  Of course, drill cannot possibly prepare us for every circumstance.  It can't be guaranteed that circumstances will play out how we planned them to.  They do, though, provide us with some semblance of preparedness that allows us to act with a level head when disaster occurs.

The longer I watched and listened, the more I began to try to put myself in those teacher's shoes.  Especially when the reports came about the seven children who were lost at Plaza Towers.  Teachers catch a lot of flack.  While I know that there are some teachers out there who are not the best, I truly believe that the majority of teachers are in those classrooms because they love those kids.  I call my students "my kids."  The plaque below says it all.  When I tried  to imagine myself in those teacher's shoes, I felt such a real and powerful sense of grief.

I know--I am absolutely certain--that those teachers are grieving so hard.  I'm also sure that many of them are dealing with a certain amount of guilt, blaming themselves for the little lives that were lost yesterday, even though I am sure that they did everything in their power to keep those babies safe.  I know they are praying just as hard as parents, friends, and strangers all across the world that there will be no more casualties at their school.  So today, I am praying for the families who lost everything, including loved ones, the rescue workers still digging through debris looking for victims, for the thousands of people all over--not just Oklahoma--but the whole country who are rallying together to help the people of Moore, Oklahoma.  But I am saying a special prayer for the teachers at Plaza Towers Elementary School from my broken teacher's heart to theirs.
Teachers carry students from
Briarwood Elementary School
Teacher carries student from
Briarwood Elementary School
A teacher hugs a rescued child
at Briarwood Elementary School