Today I spoke with my fifth graders about what happened on Friday. I figured we would take no more than fifteen minutes discussing it, but we talked for nearly an hour.
I think we sometimes get caught up in shielding our children, that we forget that they are more than capable of fully understanding what is going on, and that they are just as concerned, afraid, worried, and angry as we adults are. They needed to discuss this. They needed to be open about it. For the most part, they were not afraid, but more baffled that anyone would be capable of killing children. They were also very determined to find ways to prevent anything like this from happening to them.
We practiced our school lockdown drill, but my kids said that simply hiding is not going to be enough if a shooter entered the building. "The shooter would just shoot into our crowd of people and then more people would die." They wanted to discuss ways to protect our class. One of my students suggested we move the heavy cabinet nearer to the door, so that if an assailant entered the building, we could all push it against the door. I thought it was a fantastic idea, so we moved it. They also wanted to practice all fitting inside of the coat closet. You'd think that this would be a mess with twenty two 10 year olds, but you know, they took it so
seriously and in the end we got them all to fit! Another student suggested that I keep a copy of the classroom keys hanging on the cabinet, so that I could quickly lock the door if anything were to happen. Again, great idea, and I plan to make that happen as well.
This morning, I dreaded
talking to them about this. I thought they would look to me to tell them this would never happen again- and how could I say that? But they didn't. They were incredibly serious, mature, and thoughtful. They wanted to find ways to protect their classmates. They also wanted to take time to make sympathy cards to send to the students at Sandy Hook. "I don't know how I would feel if someone killed kids here, so I'm sure they are really sad, and we should make them feel better by drawing them happy pictures."
I am just amazed by their wisdom, heart, and determination. I am so proud to be their teacher.