As a Reality 101
blogger, there are tons of great topics I anticipate writing about; this is not
one of them. Last Monday, one of my
students passed away. It was very sudden and shocking. This
particular student has been in my class since I began two years ago. I've
attended his birthday parties and talked regularly with his mother. He
even came to my wedding in December. My students often fight over who will
be his "study buddy." He's well-known throughout our school and
is especially popular with all our administrators.
Those of you who currently teach understand that classrooms become like their
own little families. If a student is absent or an assistant is out, it's
like part of the family is missing. When we return to school, I know our
"family" is going to feel incomplete; we won't be whole.
I've looked back at pictures and videos I have of my student. A hundred
memories have replayed in my mind. What has surprised me is the things
that stick out most are not the things that I taught him: it's the things he
taught me and others.
Over the past two
years, he taught me about patience, compassion, boldness, advocacy,
communication and appreciation of the simple things in life. I watched him
teach others in my school about acceptance, respect and what true friendship is
In my two years as a special education teacher, I've never for a moment thought
I didn't have the best job ever. I still believe that. But I have discovered
the worst part of this job: losing a child that you've taught, loved and lived
I'm sure some of you have
experienced this, as well. What do I do now? What do I say to my
students and school? How do I help them and myself through this grieving
process? How do I reach out to my student's family? I would so
appreciate hearing your suggestions and experiences.