Being a teacher during a disaster
The recent tragic events in Japan have brought back memories of the 2005 tsunami when I was teaching grade 4 at Rose Ave. P.S. in Toronto. I’ve previously written about this multicultural school and the impact it had on my own teacher development.
The tsunami in 2005 hit our school hard. We had a large Sri Lankan student body and in my own class, had 2 students who lost family. It was a month or more of chaos where regular classes really didn’t happen and there was lots of counseling for both teachers and students in the school.
I had daily carpet talks with the students. What was most important to them were two things I feel;
1. Telling their own story. Who they knew, what they’d heard and happened. My role as a teacher was to direct this conversation. Let them get it out and turn the conversation into a learning moment.
2. Knowledge. What was a tsunami? What really happened to the people? Why some places were destroyed, others not? So many questions. My job was to prepare materials and answers – to give students access to knowledge about these events. Knowledge IS control and that is so important at a time like this.
That year in our lonely, hot/cold, stuffy, crowded, noisy, dark portable was a turning year for me. I learned a lot about students and gave myself the time to reflect and think about students and what they need for their development. It was even more formative because of the 2005 tsunami, the pain and struggle we all felt. Out of suffering eventually does come something worthy. Our teaching, teaches us who we are.
Teachers have to give students knowledge after a tragedy like Japan. It is an important role. Twitter, FB etc… have really helped many teachers do this, this time around. In 2005, I was pretty well all alone and relied on newspapers and the librarian.
Larry Ferlazzo, Shelly Terrell, many others – tweeted about the events in Japan and gave educators access to information that they could process and prepare for their student’s questions on Monday. It was invaluable. I also did through my own tweets.
However, there were a few people on the internet – who didn’t get it.
I was disgusted and shocked by those who condemned great teachers, helping other great teachers through twitter and social media. Put off by their tweets and off hand moralizing. I collected a record and you can view the tweets below. (I have removed the individual tweets. For reasons that support the people involved to control their own content online and also because of the discussion and clarification that ensued).
Essentially, they saw teachers tweeting / RTing anything about resources, the morning of the tsunami/quake as “immoral” and “pornographers”. I vehemently disagree and throw it back at them. It is imperative that teachers get information about events, about materials they can use with their students. I’ll leave it at that. It’s not easy being a teacher during a disaster. Especially one who shares resources and ideas online….