There is a meme that says teachers look forward to school breaks more than students do. There couldn’t be a meme more truthful. The sky has a blue hue, there are 50 states, and Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. But truth is… teachers love their breaks. But what happens when a break turns into a viral focus on your school?
Spring break is one of those that are essential to the overall well being of the teacher. More than anything, the weather is starting to warm up, allowing us to release those endorphins in fields of flowers and rainbows… which our classroom walls don’t really fully allow us to.
The future of last spring break seemed optimistic… before it began. But on that Thursday morning, as the sun came through the blinds, my phone began to ring. I told myself, “Who the heck is waking me up… this early… during spring break? Nope, I will not answer this phone!” I silenced it.
But now, I’m awake. Ugh… I’m awake! How dare this person wake me up during spring break. I immediately got another phone call. “What’s up,” I answered, not happy to have answered it.
“Jared got arrested,” she said.
Well, now I’m awake. The night before, a former colleague got arrested for inappropriate behavior with minors.
News spread quickly. My colleague called me, a few texted me the link to the news story. And of course, I had to Google the story to believe it myself. Not only had it spread through local news, national news was picking up the story. Sadly, even the Daily Mail in the United Kingdom picked up the story.
We were international y’all.
So what happens when your school goes viral, when your school is in the news for all the wrong reasons?
From an administrator’s perspective, the obvious response is to go into crisis management mode. I’m sure they have a plan in place. (I’m not an administrator, nor do I get paid enough to make those decisions.) Seems like the norm is: address the elephant with the staff and the community, always redirect the conversation in the classroom back to instruction, and allow central office to do their job. However, always… always… always back to instruction.
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That is far from realistic. The community is talking about it. The students are talking about it. That’s where the focus is and will be for a few days. Yet, we have to continue to discuss the quadratic equation, the parts of an atom and the American Revolution like nothing happened. In reality, all the teachers and students minds are… how could our teacher do that to these kids?
I didn’t see the official announcement that Donald Trump was elected president. It was too late into the night. The way it was going, it looked like he was going to win. I went to sleep, hoping that the next morning, I was wrong. The nation was shocked. I was shocked. And I knew my students would have been shocked. And they were. As a journalism teacher, it wasn’t something I could have ignored. As divisive as this election was, I’m sure my students were going to have questions and comments. We spent the entire class period Wednesday, all 52 minutes, discussing the election results.
And that is exactly what teachers should do when your campus ends up going viral… allow the students to discuss. And as the professional educator, always pivot to the truth.
The teacher was my friend. He had been in my vehicle. We had many pictures together. I meet his kids and his wife, and was even invited to his house. The students knew there was a friendship.
“How did you find out sir,” a student asked me.
“I found out the same way you guys did,” I responded. “I was shocked. Betrayed. Hurt. He was my friend.”
By not allowing students to discuss, or by constantly sugarcoating things, we are altering the reality that they are already experiencing and discussing between themselves. As teachers, our goal is educate our students. However, we can’t deny that we, like them, are just as human.
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