Sunday, December 16, 2012

Reflection: Crisis

As we all have been, I have been deeply saddened and shocked by the events of Friday morning.  As school counselors, we all tend to be fairly empathetic, and so my thoughts have constantly been turned to the parents of those children who have been lost, the families of those school staff members who died, and to the larger community of Newtown who will need support long after the media trucks and national focus have left as the depths of grief, loss, and trauma begin to manifest themselves in the months to come.

Many years ago, when I was still teaching, I was at a school where, for the first time, I had to go through a lockdown drill with my students.  In going through the procedures of covering my window and trying to keep 30 energetic 7th graders quiet as security came by to check that our door was locked, the thought flashed through my head, "What if this was real?"  Instinctually, I immediately knew that I would put the kids into the instrument storage closet (I taught this choir class in the band room) and would put myself outside if need be to protect those kids.  This was not a question I wrestled with, this was not something where I thought about all the possible consequences.  I knew what I would have to do in the breath of an instant.

Perhaps for this reason, I keep thinking the most about the principal and school psychologist who attempted to stop the gunman as well as the 1st grade teacher who hid her students and gave her own life to protect them.  When you go into education as a career, you do not necessarily think that you may have to give your life as part of your profession.  Yet, that is what the six adults who died on Friday did.  I think all of us who work in schools know that when it comes to the safety of our students, dare I say, "our kids", that chances are pretty high that we would do the same.  Our educational professionals have taken quite a few hits in the public arena in the last decade.  However, the vast, vast, vast majority of adults in schools that I have met in the last thirteen years are highly committed individuals who work excessively long hours, nights, and weekends, often making difficult choices between their own work and personal lives.  They are in education because they love kids, they love watching kids learn, and they love helping to facilitate that process.  They would do anything for their students, and I think we should take a moment to really acknowledge just what that could mean.

I have been inspired in the last several days by the school counseling community and their quick response with regards to sharing resources so that we all have support in working with our students, families, and school communities through this time.  The mother of all school counselor bloggers, Danielle Schultz, began to collect resources at School Counselor Blog and share them with her followers.  I am inspired by this, and believe that all of us who are school counseling bloggers have a responsibility, as collectors and sharers of information, to have these resources at hand to share with our followers whenever they are needed.  As such, I have created a page on my blog dedicated to crisis resources, and would love if other bloggers did the same, so that no matter where a school counseling professional turns, they find information to support them in their work talking to students, staff, and families in these difficult moments.  In this way, as school counselors we can continue to be prepared to lead in times of great challenge.

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