Saturday, March 15, 2014

Joy through Sorrow

Every Saturday I get the opportunity to celebrate the week over at Ruth Ayres' blog, 


Today I celebrate my students. I celebrate their strength, their compassion, their capacity to love and to care for their friends. 



Tragedy struck our little community this week. One of my students lost her mother in a car accident. It hit us hard. This little girl is in my first class of the day...it's a small class...only fourteen of us in there...we are a tight group. 
Yesterday morning the principal suggested that we could dedicate our moment of silence for this family. My kids froze. They knew what happened, but he said it out loud. He said the words, he used her name. After announcements, I looked into those faces and stopped. I said a prayer for strength and I know what happened next was because God was with us in that room. 
We talked. We cried. We hugged! They asked questions and I did my best to give answers...where there are no good answers. They wanted to do something. We scrapped our plans. I said, "We do have lots of important English stuff to do, but today nothing is as important as YOU and how you are feeling!"
What happened next was beautiful...every kid in that class thoughtfully and carefully constructed cards for our fellow classmate. They found words of comfort, they drew pictures, they wrote poems...
They moved and sat with their friends and quietly talked. They asked for music, so I turned some on, "Ms. Haseltine, please don't make it sad music!" And they worked hard for an hour! The results will bring tears to your eyes. I cry every time I read these words and feel the love they poured into this project. 


I didn't want to leave them sad. I wanted them to know that it's ok to be happy and laugh a little today...so we practiced some Random Acts of Kindness. I explained what that was...finding a way to anonymously brighten someone else's day! They started making signs that said, "You're beautiful!" and hung them on the bathroom mirrors. One student wanted some sticky notes...all day long, she left notes for students and teachers in all her classes for the rest of the day. Here's mine...
They loved watching people smile after reading the notes. 



In my long career, there are days I know that I'll remember forever...yesterday was one of those days. Each of those students showed their heart yesterday. I walked around the class, watching them hard at work and I said, "I have the best job in the world." 

If you read my blog post about the rainbow earlier this week, that's the day this happened. I believe that rainbow was sent by that mom. 

Slice of Life Challenge
Please join the challenge over at Two Writing Teachers!

20 comments:

  1. I have chills and tear of sadness, for this child, this family and your community. I have chills and tears of hope for your students, all of them, and for a gifted teacher and human who knows when it's time to scrap the plans and plan to do something important. Our students will forget what we teach them, but never how we make them feel. YOU and YOUR COMMUNITY are in my prayers. I know why that rainbow was sent.

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    1. Thank you Anita! Thank you for your prayers and for your kind words!!

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  2. I'm so sorry, Michelle, to hear about the loss of your student's mother. Helping students cope at a time like this is one of the most challenging situations teachers face. How lucky this girl is to have you to welcome her back to school when the time comes. Hugs and prayers to you and your students.

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  3. Good for you for taking the time out of our "crazy, crunched" schedule to help students work their way through this tragedy. Acts of kindness help refocus them, and expressing their hearts is a needed skill in this often unconnected world.

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  4. I'm crying at the beautiful words your students wrote and the amazing way you handled the situation!

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  5. Probably one of my favorite blog posts of yours. Ever. Great work Ms. Haseltine.

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  6. Oh, Michelle, considering our small loss of a cat, this is so much more. I'm so sorry for you and your class, and of course for the family. The way you cared for this hard thing with your class is wonderful, helping them to express their feelings and love for their classmate, and then the Random Act idea to show we still go on, still "live life" as happy as we can. I imagine too that your time with the kids helped their conversations at home too & the parents will be grateful. Thank you.

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  7. I think you must have had the ear of God this week! You knew what to do in order to help your students. It wasn't easy! Yet you did it with kindness, sensitivity and love. You have the mind of a teacher and the heart of a counselor. I'll be thinking about you and your students.

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  8. What a group of beautiful, tender-hearted children...and such a sensitive teacher.

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  9. My heart is breaking for you and your student. What sadness! But you handled it boldly and with kindness, honoring their need to express themselves. I did see your rainbow post. That's one of those moments when you know for sure there is a God who cares deeply for us. Thanks for sharing this.

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  10. Lovely post. Thank you for sharing the gifts of that sad day. X0

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  11. What a week. So glad that you all were able to use that time in a positive and healing way.

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  12. In the midst of the sadness, children find a way to celebrate community and love. Thanks for sharing their work, Michelle.

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  13. This is such an emotional post. What a challenge to handle so that there can be learning and grief and love. So much beautiful celebration of community. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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  14. My heart goes out to you and your students. I know how you feel because I have had two students in my class and another in the grade level,who have lost their parents this school year. It is not easy for you or that sweet little girl. I will say, time does heal because my little guy is now beginning to smile and laugh again. You chose a wonderful outlet for them to express their feelings. Prayers for all!

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  15. You made me cry! Wow! I know how hard it is to lose someone, and how hard it is to keep going about the daily life after that. Poor little student! Your class sounds so wonderful -- I love the cards! It's nice to know others are looking out for you. Tell your student the other Slicers are thinking of the family!

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  16. I can assure you, you did the right thing in letting the children create the cards. It helped the students in the class express their grief, and in time, it will help the girls that lost their mother. My children's teachers did something similar last year, when my husband passed away. I'm not sure that my children were able to read all of the cards, as it was such a difficult time. However, when they are ready, the cards are in a box, where the children can access it once again. Thank you for being a fabulous human being, who knows that there is a lot more to life than just learning by the book.

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  17. friend. such a hard week. and you handled it so beautifully! you taught those kids how to grieve. how to ACT through your grief. in such a healthy way. i totally bawled my way through this post...

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  18. Your post is beautiful and I don't think you could have handled the situation any better. You knew what your kids needed that morning and you gave them the time and space they needed. Your kids' words are heartfelt and wonderful.

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