Saturday, March 21, 2009

Life is Precious

This last week at Arapahoe his been tough. A former student who graduated last year was found dead as a result of alcohol poising in his fraternity house. His funeral was on Monday. Then on Wednesday a ninth grade student died because of a complication with pneumonia. Two students in two weeks – gone.

It was quite an interesting experience dealing with the students in the classroom those couple of days as they grieved for the losses in their lives, but also the loss to the school.

So I watched and learned something that they do not teach in teacher education programs – how to deal with grief. Throughout the day on Wednesday I watched as both Anne and Kristin dealt with the situation that was affecting so many students. They did a wonderful job modifying lesson plans, basically throwing them all out the window, and really focusing on what the students needed – time to grieve. Arapahoe had extra help on had to deal with the tragedy, but let me say that this experience was hard.

How do you, as a teacher, grieve the loss when you are supposed to teach material? That material does not even seem relevant anymore. How are you supposed to teach the material even a few days after the fact? How do you deal with some students grieving, while others cry out for normalcy and a routine?

Let me say that it was a challenge, but we made it though. Wednesday was a day where learning was not the focus and for obvious reasons. Thursday and Friday we moved on with material, but with the caution and understanding from the students that if they needed to go for any reason that they were totally allowed to do that. In addition, I also presented the Grief Loop to my tenth graders because I thought it would help them understand the natural process of grieving that everyone goes through. I think it went over really well.

All in all, the process of grieving is something that everyone handles individually and I am sure that once we are back from Spring Break the process will continue. That being said, it was a tough week at Arapahoe that made me realize even more than ever that life is truly precious.

Every look at the mountains, every conversation with family, and every time I get to get up front of a class it could be my last. You never know what will happen in life, but one thing is for sure – it is precious.