You Only Live Once

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 19 2011

No Title Can Accurately Desribe This Post

I’m currently trying to sift through all the inexperienced emotions that come with finding out one of your students has been shot.  Attempting to process and deal with this information at 7:55 on a Monday morning, a Monday when both you and students don’t believe you should even be in school but already started on Winter Break like every other school in the city, 5 minutes before classes are to start is exhausting, especially when the student’s cousin is in both your first and second block.  Thank goodness I didn’t have to wait to hear that he was alright, that information came along with the news that he had been shot, however, with the news flying from mouth to mouth of all the students in the cafeteria, most more concerned about the details of what happened or spreading the few facts they had heard than the fact that Troy is alive was absolutely mind-blowing to me.  Today was probably only one of five days this year where I absolutely, 100% realized how privileged and different my life expectations are from those of my students.

To live in a world where 10-year olds are being caught in the crossfire of guns while riding their bike in their own neighborhood, steps away from their front doors is absolutely heart-breaking.  What bothers me even more is my shock of it.  I so wish that I could be the one unfazed by this and my students be the ones disturbed than vice versa.

The past month and a half have been especially more difficult than the first 10-12 weeks of school.  Test scores have dipped and I think I’ve gotten to a place where I’ve almost forgotten my lowest students because I’m trying so hard to make the middle group understand so they can be pushed to the next testing level.  I’ve realized I’ve been complacent with students not doing work in class, telling them and myself that it is their futures they are hurting.  Today has absolutely snapped me out of that funk.  I now realize more than I have at any other point so far in my journey that I NEED to push my students to the absolute highest level, ESPECIALLY the lowest ones.  My low students are the ones that are already 1 -2 grades behind, the ones who from their behavior track record are the most likely to or already have, get caught up in a bad lifestyle.  I can not have any more of my students get shot by guns and although I know I have no control over that, I do have slight control and influence if whether or not they are the ones pulling the trigger to shoot someone else.

So thank you to the nameless, faceless jerks who instead of shooting at the older man who was your actual target, instead hit a 10-year old four separate times.  You have helped me realize and remember the expectations and lifestyle I want for all my students.

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