Our blog post, due to the senstive nature, is submitted by an anonymous writer this week. Our thoughts go to this teacher and any other educator ever put in her situation.
My daughter is a third-generation teacher—following in the footsteps of her paternal grandfather, maternal grandmother and father. By all accounts, she is a special teacher respected by her students and fellow teachers alike. When I phoned her this weekend, I asked the usual…how was your week? I expected her to say… these early weeks of the school year are exhausting, I already have a number of IEP’s to work on, or the homecoming activities have been fun, but I would not have expected to hear her say…I received a death threat from one of my students. Thirty-six years of teaching experience provided inadequate preparation for me to respond.
Courageously, she described what happened and how the school principal and others responded. I wondered if they had done enough to protect my little girl turned accomplished young woman. I know she went to a fine college and had good teacher preparation, but nothing could prepare her or me for this situation.
She has demonstrated the courage I see in most teachers on a daily basis. Each and every day, teachers across this nation look into the eyes of their students and see the sacred souls of individuals with unknown potentials, hopes and dreams, and innate yearnings for knowing their world. It is a humbling responsibility and vulnerable act to make a positive future possible with your students. I don’t know the student who made the death threat…nor would my professional daughter divulge such information, but I can’t help but wonder what this individual’s future holds. Will the student reach his/her full-potential? Will my daughter be able to, with her kind heart and strong teaching skills, make a difference with this student?
One of my favorite authors, Parker Palmer, writes of how great teachers are involved in an exercise of daily vulnerability. He suggests teaching is situated at the edge or intersection of the private and the public.
“But a good teacher must stand where personal and public meet, dealing with the thundering flow of traffic at an intersection where “weaving a web of connectedness” feels more like crossing a freeway on foot. As we try to connect ourselves and our subjects with our students, we make ourselves, as well as our subjects, vulnerable to indifference, judgment, ridicule.” I would now add…death threats to the list.
While I still have few words to say to my daughter about her recent experience, I say to her and all teachers doing the heavy lifting in the classroom…be courageous. Continue to see the potential in your students, continue weaving your web, and always be true to self and to the public life of being a teacher.