Elementaryhistoryteacher writes poignantly of her memories of September 11, and her most “rambunctious” student, T., tardy that morning, who burst into class with the news that a plane had crashed and that New York City was “on fire.”
I walked over to the television, hit the on button and switched the channel to CNN ... the only 24-hour new channel our school could get at the time. The image hit me like a ton of bricks. ...“Oh my gosh, T. You’re right.” I said as I backed up from the screen. The room got very still and we listened to the announcer. It was still early enough that both towers were still standing.
But, when she stepped out of the room for a minute to talk with her teacher partner, the first tower fell.
I walked over to the set at the same time my vice principal came into my room. She smiled and motioned to the television and said, “Turn it off.” ... We both knew this wasn’t the same thing as our first walk on the Moon or MLK’s funeral. Our students didn’t need to see anymore unfolding events. Luckily they didn’t see any bodies falling from the sky and they had not yet begun to show footage of the plane flying into the tower and the resulting explosion.
And then, Elementaryhistoryteacher reacted like anyone would:
I wanted to curl up into a ball and cry. I wanted to get my purse and go get my [own} kids. I wanted my husband. I wanted my mother and father. I couldn’t. I was the teacher. I was the adult in charge. I couldn’t let them see me upset. I had to turn off the television and get on with our day.
It’s a vivid reminder of the emotional burden placed on teachers. We expect almost superhuman reactions in times of crisis.
Someone oughta write a book.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.