I began my weekend by attending the visitation of a 16 year old student who took his life just a week before. His two younger sisters have attended our school for the past three years, and they are no strangers to daily hugs, smiles, and some one-on-one time from staff members. Sitting at the visitation with other staff members so show our support for the girls and the family, I couldn’t help but notice how many high school students were sitting alone as they processed this tragedy.
As an educator, I have attended at least one funeral to show support for a student every year. This is the part of education that nobody warns you about. Watching students struggle through losing a parent or a sibling is not something that educators do from afar. We show support for families in their worst times, and through that we teach.
While sitting in church today, we sang the song Surrounded by Upperroom (shared below). This song was exactly what my soul needed, and reminded me to have strength through these battles.
“This is How I Fight My Battles”
As an Christian and educator, I fight these battles through prayer and faith. But this can’t just happen in the face of tragedy. As educators, we can’t just attend visitations and funerals and believe that we are helping students fight their battles. When faced with loss, grief, and dispair students need us to show them unconditional love and faith.
Is it exhausting? Yes.
Is it hard? Yes.
Is it emotional? Yes.
Is it in our job description? No.
But it is the most important part of our job.
While our staff prepares to welcome these sweet girls back to school this week, we are each fighting our battles of fulfilling a role that we have no professional training for. In light of this, not one staff member has questioned their ability to engage in conversations about grief, loss, and hope.
My fear is that these emotional battles that educators fight play a role in the numbers of those chosing to leave the profession. For those that feel they are losing the battle, I promise you are not. Your students need you. Just the way you are, even when you are crying with them over a loss that cannot be explained. Don’t quit. You are surrounded by a tribe that belives in you and has your back in every battle.