Monday, February 26, 2018

The "Good" Kid Is In Jail.

I have to be honest.
For a number of years I was that teacher. The one who prophesied the negative places kids would end up.
"Yeah, he'll be in jail in about two years."
"She'll be pregnant in middle school."
Sometimes my prophecy would come true, and fortunately, sometimes it wouldn't.

And even though I avoid saying those words out loud, I sometimes think them. The good part is, I work hard on trying not to make it a reality. I talk to those students I harbor those fears for instead of waiting to see if my fears play out. You see, as I grew as a teacher, my prophesies became fears. I feared that the student would go to jail. Feared that that student would be a teenage mom. And while I am no miracle worker, I hoped my actions, while they were in my class, would somehow help to change my perceived outcome for that child.

All that is to say,there are children you fear this might happen to. So, I was totally unprepared when this particular child's mug shot stared back at me from my screen. I cried.Hard.

And it's not that he was better than any of the others. But my perception of him made me think he was not one I had to worry about. As a 5th grader he was polite, respectful, and so bright. I envisioned a great future for him. His mom was so supportive. I remember when they moved she sent me pictures and a letter thanking me. I still have it.

As a matter of fact, I saw him as a young man, working diligently in BJ's. It's always a great experience when you run into former students, grown. He told me how he was doing, his plans for school, etc... We would see each other often because the store was near the school. I hadn't seen him in the last few months, so I assumed he had changed shifts.

In December, I ran into him at the city courthouse. We had taken the students to see the reenactment of "Miracle on 34th St." As we stood in the lobby, I noticed this young man at the same time he noticed me. His head went down. He had to walk past me. Couldn't avoid me. Felt the need to explain it was a traffic violation, and it wouldn't happen again. I hugged him, told him it was ok, and sent him off with a motherly, "Just don't let me see you back in here!"

And now. A mug shot. Charges. Way more than a traffic violation. Jail. The "good" kid.

What happened between 5th grade and 26 years old? What choices led to this?I keep asking myself these questions and I can't answer them.

This is my wake up call. The "good" kid is in jail. I will no longer harbor preconceived notions, I will pray for the best for all of my students.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

I Am a Teacher And You Want to Arm Me?

I will NEVER carry a weapon, concealed or otherwise, in my classroom.
I will NEVER keep it locked in a safe.
I say this with the utmost certainty.

There is a huge debate going on about whether teachers should be armed in order to protect their students. We would even get bonuses!
As usual, teachers' voices are muted by the roar of non-educators who believe they know better.

There are teachers who say they would quit or retire.
I wouldn't.
I wouldn't give up my passion because someone says I must do something I am vehemently opposed to. I would fight. I hope enough of us would do the same.

Everyone knows a teacher would give their life for a student.It happened again in Florida. But arming me? Having to be trained to use a weapon? Not going to happen. There are way too many things that could go wrong with this scenario.

I will continue to fight for my students as long as I am teaching. But a gun will not be my weapon of choice. I will not be armed.