If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.
– Sandy Dahl, wife of pilot of Flight 93 Jason Dahl
I am from a town in New Jersey about 45 minutes from New York City, so to say that 9/11 had an impact on my world is an understatement. I was in 8th grade, and my neighbor was in one of the towers.
The principal made an announcement during 8th period, telling us that there was an attack on the World Trade Center, and that we needed to report directly to homeroom to get a letter for our parents. At this point I wasn’t sure what the World Trade Center was, because I knew them as the Twin Towers, but I was frightened nonetheless. My homeroom teacher simply said, “You aren’t going to believe what happened. The towers are gone.”
When we were walking in the hallway at the end of the day, I saw my friend, Allie, crying. I figured everyone was just pretty scared. On our walk home from school, I realized that her dad worked in one of the towers. Allie and her family lived directly across the street from me, where just a few days prior her dad was out watering plants and doing regular dad things. Now, our skies were literally filled with smoke for the days following.
Once I moved to the south I felt a sense of responsibility to share with people what that day was like, because the impact was certainly not as severe in this area of the country. In fact, my first year of teaching we did an activity about music and healing, where I told them my story and how music was a sense of comfort for all of us. I had students write about a time in their life where they turned to music for comfort. It was a really inspiring activity, especially for a new teacher getting to know everyone. (Minus the fact that the entire choir left my room crying and my next class was terrified to come in…but that’s a different story!)
In addition, I came to prioritize kindness and community ahead of musical skill. Teachers and coaches have the ability to mold students into the best versions of themselves, which, amazingly enough, can change the world. Seriously! If you can get through to one mean, troubled child, and turn them into a compassionate human being who contributes to society, you are a hero. We have enough hate in the world, and while your content is important, make some room for teaching kindness.
Take some time this week to reflect on whether your classroom fosters community and teaches kindness. It’s important that you do!
Photo Credit: Image made with Word Swag
Subscribe to receive my monthly newsletter!
By subscribing, you'll receive a FREE Zero Tolerance Policy template to use and modify for your own classroom, ensemble, or organization!