Working with Students on September 11th

Today’s post won’t come to you with the same authoritative tone as my others.  Nothing I learned from the house parents of St. Joseph Children’s Home or from any teacher I have ever worked with could have prepared me in how to work with children on September 11th, 2001.

President George Bush and I had something in common that morning.  My class was being read to when an aide came to me, whispered what happened after the first plane struck the World Trade Center, and asked me to handle it the way I wanted to- similar to the former president. Everyone who reads my blog regularly knows I am a problem solver with parents, teachers, and children.  To be honest though, I’ve never felt more lost that day either before I started working with kids or since.

My options were simple enough.  I could tune in to find out what in the world was going on.  I suspected the risks of exposing 6-7 year olds to this but I also knew something big was happening.  On the other hand, I could go on with my lesson as if nothing happened.  Keep in mind, no one at this point was reporting this was definitely a terrorist attack.

Though I can’t explain my reasoning, I turned the television on.  It wasn’t long after this point that the second plane hit.  Even in all my confusion, I knew the second plane couldn’t have been an accident.  My wife has many friends in New York and my thoughts turned to her: thus taking me even further away from my class (mentally).

The students in my room had reacted in various ways.  Some of them understood something wasn’t right while others didn’t really pay a lot of attention.  Besides the event itself, their faces are the thing still etched in my mind.  A couple of children were laughing but I’m certain they didn’t understand what was truly happening.

I don’t know how long after the buildings came down that it dawned on me that I had a job to do.  I’m not sure how well I taught my lessons the rest of the day.  Perhaps it’s best my mind has erased the memories. Hopefully, I composed myself and did a good job.  Like many others, I was numb.

Maybe it’s because my focus is constantly on children but after I left school that day, I remember driving home and thinking about the kids who lost their parents.  It made me physically ill.  To think that it’s been 10 years is mind blowing.  The same children who were with me that day are now juniors and seniors in high school.

I almost feel silly trying to teach a lesson after sharing these memories with you.  The thing is though that many people come to my site to receive parenting information or a nugget of knowledge.  Therefore, here’s my shot in teaching today’s lesson.

Sometimes, you do things with children without knowing whether it’s the right thing to do or not.  Most of the times, you can reflect back and think about ways you could have done something better.  That reflection will help make you a better parent.

There will be other times though when, after reflecting, you still have no idea if what you did was the correct decision.  My advice to you is to shrug it off knowing that you did your best.

This Friday, I will be back with a more upbeat blog.  Best wishes to you and your loved ones.

One comment

  1. OneMommy says:

    I was teaching that day, too. An impossible decision and impossible to focus on lessons after that.
    I liked what you said about reflecting later on what you could have done better. So often we beat ourselves up as parents –