Friday, September 9, 2016

Teaching Kids About 9/11

Watching Boatlift (link in the post below)
I'll never forget it, that day 15 years ago. A student's mom stood in the doorway of my fourth grade classroom. I walked over to her on that early Tuesday morning and she whispered that the Twin Towers were just hit. She watched my class as I flew down a flight of stairs to my mom's third grade classroom, my heart in my throat as I whispered the news to her. With my heart pounding I asked about my uncle. He worked at the New York Stock Exchange and I thought it was in the Trade Center. Fortunately, it wasn't. She and I both had a quick conversation and then resumed teaching, trying to belay any anxiety or worry we had and to keep everything as "normal" as we could for our students.

The uncertainty of that day is something that sticks with you. As does the following day as I stood in my classroom with our guidance counselor at the start of the day. He had a scheduled character education lesson to deliver. We began our day as we always did, with the pledge. The students, with their innocent nine and ten-year-old hearts, plowed right ahead like normal. My colleague and I stood there, voices trembling, and tears snaking down my face. I wondered what was to become of us.

This year as I watched the date approach on the calendar, I shared with my 7th grade colleague my desire for the 7th graders to research 9/11, to learn more about it. The fact they weren't even born yet is unreal to me. It feels like yesterday, but it is over a lifetime away for them. So, we prepared. 

We shared the video Boatlift (here) narrated by Tom Hanks, and I cried.

I previewed the first chapter of these books, and then I cried.

We researched Heroes and Heroines from a lesson plan on the 9/11 memorial website (found HERE) and I cried.

We analyzed the speeches of FDR (Day of Infamy) and Bush's speech on the evening of 9/11 (lesson from the same site as above) and I cried.

Our students wrote blog posts about their thoughts on 9/11 (you can see some here) and I cried.

It was an unreal week. My students shared so much. I tried to share what I could. We talked about fear after 9/11, looking for the helpers (thanks, Mr. Rodgers), and how we can make the day a day to give back. Looking at my students I decided that the world would be better off if we viewed it from the eyes of a child. They get it. They are the best of us. 

And then I cried.