As I wrote the date on the board, I couldn’t help but think about it….. I had just sat down on my couch with my morning coffee. I switched the TV on to watch the news and wake up. And the first tower crashed down amongst the sea of skyscrapers. The newscaster was speechless as he was being filmed live from the rooftop of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. What was there to say?
What would I say to my students? I got dressed. Went to Starbucks for my latte and muffin. People were mumbling, somber; they too were in disbelief of all that was happening.
Once at school I had to plan for my first lesson. We had just started our Middle East unit. How could I make the kids understand this? I don’t recall what I said to my 9th grade history class, I just know we engaged in a heated discussion in which I did my best to help them make sense of it all. Later, I sat in my Principal’s office watching the footage as the crisis continued. Luckily we had no TV’s in our classrooms. We tried our best to keep things business as usual. But would it ever be business as usual again?
Even now years later, as I write the date on the board, September 11th is like a kick in the chest. Most days I don’t really think about that morning. Even the changes at airports, or the way I feel when I see a woman in burka, does not bring me back to how I felt at that moment watching the towers fall. But when the date rolls around and once again I am facing my first period class, I feel pain.
As a teacher, and especially as an International School teacher, it is my job to teach peace. It is my job to teach tolerance. Yet when you work in an environment of diversity you can offend others without even realizing. I know we teachers are to be bastions of peace, but it is hard. Sometimes, we adults have no way to wrap our own heads around our prejudices.
I will now open my door and let the kids flood in. They won’t notice the day. They won’t notice this picture I have above my filing cabinet. They won’t pay any attention to the guarded checkpoint they pass by in the morning. They won’t bother looking at the gigantic flower pots made of steel that are strategically placed in front of the school’s drive way. They have no idea that day in and day out we protect them from the beast, the fear, that was born on September 11th.