I was a teacher of ten-year-old children. My most challenging group of students to date. Rough around the edges and didn't give you an inch kind of kids. Every day was a test of wills. I didn't know if I would make it through the year. And then...that morning...everything changed.
I dropped my students to the gym teacher, took a deep breath and headed to get some copies made. Adjectives and long division were on the agenda. The day was just beginning. Cutting through the library, I caught a glimpse of the TV. I saw a plane hit a building.
"What movie is this?" I thought.
The librarian screamed and my legs locked in place. This was not a movie.
I stood. I stared. I read the text scrolling along the bottom of the screen. I prayed.
The intercom came to life with an urgent voice.
"All students and teachers please report to your classrooms."
Before I knew it, I was at the gymnasium door. The students were confused and full of questions. We walked out to our "portable". My classroom phone was ringing and I was instructed not to say anything to the kids. They didn't want them to worry or panic. Keep things calm, I was told. Keep things normal.
I went with my gut. We pushed all the chairs and desks to the edges of the room and sat on the floor. We made a large circle, all 24 of us. We sat together in harmony. No fighting, no talking back, no flying chairs. The first moment of tranquility in our little room that school year.
I called out a noun and they took turns describing it with an adjective. We wrote the words on a large piece of paper in the middle of our circle, which was quickly diminishing in size as students were being picked up early by their parents. They each hugged me before they left. They could sense something and needed to be assured it was all okay. By 11:30AM all but three students in my class had been dismissed.
The following days were hard. We had to rebuild. Start over. But one thing was for sure. We all came together as one that day, in my classroom and beyond.
If you have not seen this book, it was written by a first grade class
from Missouri and published by Scholastic after 9/11.
I read it each year to my classroom and now
Chris and I read it to our own children.
The world through a child's eyes is a beautiful place.