It’s impossible for me to think about being a teacher this week without thinking about the teachers and students at Virginia Tech. How tragic, horrifying, terrifying – what word actually describe it – the world must have been at during those interminable minutes on Tuesday. I can’t imagine much less articulate that experience.
And now, as a teacher whose students are troubled and wonderful, sometimes at the same minute, I’m left wondering how to handle this situation in the mildest of senses. How do I integrate this reality into my own world? What do I do with this information?
A colleague told me tonight about Nikki Giovanni’s experience with the shooter in a creative writing class two years ago where everything he wrote made the rest of the class uncomfortable. Will that happen in my creative writing class in the fall? If so, what will I do? How will I handle that? Do I deny a student free speech or a learning opportunity because he’s scary? Do I deny, potentially, my other students’ safety by not denying him these rights? What do I do?
What do I do, if again like last semester, I have a student burst into my classroom and call another student out only to see the unknown student pinning my own student against the wall? How do I address that situation with the other students? How do I protect the threatened student? Do I?
And so, while my sense of grief about this terrible massacre is not nearly as deep as those who are there, those, who like my family live in Virginia, and certainly not as profound as that of the families and friends who have lost dear ones, I am grieving and in grieving hopefully lights shines in, not now, but in days to come.