Dealing with Grief in the Classroom

For the past 4 days I have been dealing with the loss of a student and member of the soccer program at my school.  It is something that I do not wish on any teacher.  I have been lost and confused during this time at the reasons behind the death of such a young a vibrant soul but have been thrust into a position that people looked to for security and comfort.  It is a role that I reluctantly accepted with the knowledge that I was needed by both the grieving family and the players in my program mourning the loss of one of their friends.

Despite the tremendous tragedy that was this situation,  some very serious lessons were learned.  Over the past few days I have been witness to the extraordinary strength of young people.  I have seen students comforting and caring for each other and being a shoulder to cry on.  I have seen boys and girls develop into young men and women in order to honor their fallen friend.  I have seen an entire community come together and share fond memories.  I have felt the awesome power of the human spirit as student and staff united in wearing blue to honor young Madison and gathered for a candlelight vigil.

On the personal level, I have also learned a lot.  I have learned that despite a constant crunch on time and the need to make AYP, that some things are more important than teaching chemistry.  I have learned that schools are more than just palaces of learning; sometimes they have to be houses of healing as well.  I have learned that despite not talking much in class, a student shares so much more at home than you could imagine.  I have learned that as a teacher you do have an impact and can fill a student with joy and wonder beyond your imagination, a lesson that I learned from Madison’s grieving mother.  I have learned to cherish every moment with my family, my friends, and my students and to never take life for granted.  I have learned that it is what you do when faced with the greatest of adversity that determines who you are.  And I have learned that as a teacher, your influence extends so much further than any classroom could define.

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