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Today I am going to share with you and explain to you a perspective from seeing this world from my eyes as a public school teacher who is just finishing up her masters in Curriculum and Instruction with an ESL endorsement. It is going to be a bit of a longer read because well there is so much I feel really needs to be considered and truly thought about from our society. There are times where my words will flow from me better through my hands as I type or write than through my mouth because they are so emotionally sensitive either to me or to the other person(s) and in this case (groups of people) that it takes me time to pause, think, process, filter, construct, then write and edit it… and even with that process, it will be challenging for me to say it and for you to read it. I ask one thing. If you have gotten this far in this letter please read it to the end. It will still not be perfect even after all that contemplation which in a way is symbolic of the message. However, I ask you to read it with the open eyes of seeing our society from the view of a worried public school teacher.
As a third grade teacher, I now have to teach 3rd Graders how to protect themselves through active shooting drills. Now historically our society has had to have drills to protect children.
There are generations during wartime where they were fearful of bombings and educators had to have special drills then. One difference is now this is our reality daily not just because we are at war. Here is one of the first signs that our society as a whole has some kind of sickness.
Now elementary teachers have a curriculum that teaches and focuses on social-emotional health for the children. We need to teach them breathing techniques with how to deal with stress and anxiety. Let me say that again to let it sink in. Our society has some kind of rooted sickness inside of it that we now have to teach our children that are as young as 8 years and even younger than that how to deal with stress and how to cope with it. I didn’t use to have to teach it at this age. Oh, about 10 years ago this kind of learning was at Middle School and before that, they taught high schoolers. Well now our society is so unhealthy we are teaching coping to our youngest students. And before you can think well yeah, city public schools are rough I teach in a small community in a rural setting. The sickness has reached here it is rooted all though our society.
Teachers are now having to be trained in reading students’ triggers for outbursts in behavior. We are also trained that we need to get to the root of those outbursts and not to come down on that child in force for that outburst because it is a cry for help. That is what our training in disruptive behavior teaches us. Here is an example of a situation we face in our classrooms now regularly.
The teacher is teaching whatever content there is at that day to teach. Then something triggers student and there is an outburst in the classroom that typically looks like this but has several other ways of playing out: Chairs flying, bookshelves dumped over, broken pens that leak red all over the floor, fists pounding, feet kicking, books being torn, cuss words flying and if we cannot get there fast enough someone getting hurt. The same kinds of words that you have been seeing on tv now… the same kinds of actions. But my teacher training has taught me that if I meet this with force I not only endanger that child that cannot cope the normal way anymore...If I use force, I will not only endanger him but every other child in that room, and will most definitely bring that lack of being able to cope that has turned to destruction onto myself.
Which at this point really is not truly directed to me I am just that outlet. Yes, the child is destroying my classroom. Yes, that child is endangering themselves and their peers, but at that moment I know that that is not the stem of the problem. This child needs calm, exited in a safe way, to a counselor, or possibly to a person that can get them into a safe environment. Not to detention not then, Not to be punished right then either exited to someone that child feels safe enough to talk about the deepest cry out they have in a way that they can feel trust from that person who will not only listen to that cry but will also help them.
Now sometimes, that does not go smoothly. It takes a lot of love to calm down a child that is cussing at you, cursing at their peers, destroying your room, throwing wild punches and large objects, and sometimes even biting. Leaders of our communities that are now being destroyed, your cities are now looking like the classrooms have been looking like for years. However, can a teacher please give you some advice… if you meet that cry out with force and not love then this will explode more because we have a society that basically has cancer inside of it and we need to reform and heal from the deepest level we can…
● Health care is almost impossible for most to afford and good mental health services are almost near impossible to find anymore. One major incident and that family is completely broke. That affects the whole society.
● The people who are crying out feel like they have nothing left to lose. Which means that one of the following basic needs have not been met .
- Proper shelter
- Enough food
- A feeling of safety in their home or neighborhood or society
- Financial security to the point where they can afford a vacation too. This would be a living wage where they can truly afford all the basic needs from the income they earn. That is not happening...
- A feeling of community and acceptance
- I am sure I missed some but this list can be added to that is the beauty of reform
Every person in our global society should be able to have their basic needs met. These needs are issues that need to be addressed. Not just “you cannot do that chokehold anymore”. You need to get to the root of our true societal problems. Our police officers need training like teachers get for these kinds of situations. Teachers are licensed by the state and if we were to attack our students when they perform that form of a cry for help we would lose our teaching license. Our society needs to learn a different way to address these outbreaks because when my classroom gets destroyed I cannot use my authority to cuss back at the student, I cannot touch that student, I cannot hurt that student in any way. I need to find my most inner strength to listen to it. To let that student hit on me back even if needed while trying my best to protect me, I need to express an inner calm and then get that student to their inner calm, and then I don’t stop there. It is hard and to be honest we don’t always feel safe while doing it. It is emotionally draining dealing with issues like this. I get it. We don’t even have the same protective gear police officers do but it is what we need to do. Then after we have a time of calm we make sure that student has the proper services they need so that he or she does not have to keep asking for help in a destructive way. That is the only way they feel they can be listened to.
I need to be educated enough to see that difference. I am not saying violence should happen. I am saying this is the natural process of things when someone feels there is no other venue and we need to recognize it for that.
After I, as a teacher, get the child to a calm safe place, and I have time to decompress and bring my own adrenaline down from the chaos. Then I need to become an advocate for that child to get the services they need. Talk to my higher up and help fight for that. Add my calm voice to his frantic cry for help so that the problem gets fixed. Is it a draining part of that job? Yes, I cannot tell you how it wears us down. However, I know that if I, as a teacher, do not help meet my students’ most basic needs they will not be able to learn that lesson I was talking about earlier before the disruptive cry out. So I have to backtrack to that point in their lives to help them because our society has failed to do so. My questions to everyone are... Can we please work on that as a community? Can we please see them all as humans? Can we use this as a learning opportunity and rebuild in a way that everyone can be loved, valued, listened to, fed, sheltered, and where they can walk down the street without fear? Please, because they are crying for help. We cannot deal adequately with the disruptive behavior without looking at the stem of it.
I have so many other things to say. I really do. But I hope this explains society from the perspective of a public school teacher. This is why even though I fear Covid19 and want to protect from that as much as I can. I choose to lend my voice to their cry for help. You may see me standing with them. You may see me give you a different point of view if you bring it up. I still have a passion and you may get that. I can tell you this now. My passion may sound like anger. It is not. It is just right now the message really needs to be heard. Part of our society has systemic cancer of not having even their most basic needs met and they need help. Here is a list of just some of the people that need it now. I know I’m missing some groups but my open letter loves you too and is asking you to feel free to add yourself if you need a voice too.
Native American Lives
Socially Economic Poor Lives
The Minority Needs Us
All of Them