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Saturday, September 09, 2006
It Was Such a Beautiful Morning

You know the kind I mean. It's too early for fall, but there is still a new crispness to the air. The sky was the kind of blue you see in paintings with fluffy white clouds. It was much too pretty for the horror that would soon be unleashed.

I started that day still nervous about my new job. I had turned 40 a few months prior and was now embarking on a whole new career. After a lifetime in the hospitality field, I had become a public high school teacher. School had been in session for about two weeks, and I was still nervous. I felt like a fraud in that building. My first class of the day was Computer Applications. It ran from 7:55am to 8:50am. We then had a five minute passing period. I left class feeling pretty good about how it went. It was one I felt more comfortable teaching. I had a pretty good handle on the software and was spending hours each day working through the assignments so that I'd be at least a step or two ahead of the kids.

My second period class was in a different room. Before I went to that room, I ran around the corner to our department office to pick up some papers. The TV was on, which was very unusual, and CNN was showing footage of a plane hitting a building. I asked someone what was going on and they said a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I shook my head as I ran back to class thinking about what an awful mistake that pilot must have made.

I admit I barely gave it more than a moment's thought. This class made me nervous. It was Business & Personal Law. The students were all juniors and seniors in high school. It was a small class, but they sure brought up all my insecurities. It was in this class that I felt the biggest fraud. What did I know about Law? It seemed so intimidating and the classes I took on Business Law seemed so long ago. It seemed like I couldn't remember any of it. My other classes were filled with freshmen and sophomores. They're still young, and I could fool them into thinking I really was a teacher. This class, however, was filled with cynical teenagers nearing the ends of pre-college academic experiences. They had seen every kind of teacher and seemed to dare me to be different.

As I walked into class that morning, one of my students asked to turn on the television. She said that she had heard something in her first period class about a plane crash and wanted to see what it was about. Several voices joined her in begging me to turn on the TV. I suspected they were really just trying to find a way to postpone class, but I also wanted to know what was going on so I agreed. We had been watching for just a few minutes and quietly discussing how awful it was when we saw the second plane hit. My blood ran cold. All of a sudden my room of cynical bored teenagers seemed to regress before my very eyes. Instead of appearing nearly adult-like as they usually did, they became frightened children. "Mrs. M," they asked, "what does this mean?" I hesitated for just a minute before answering. I told them that this meant it wasn't an accident. At this point, I knew there was no point in trying to hold our regular class. We channel-surfed through the news channels. We listened to all the newscasters that hour speculating. We saw the first tower collapse. Through it all, I answered their questions as best I could and tried to allay their fears. I assured them we were safe; that our little high school in the Midwest would not be a target. I sure sounded a lot more confident than I felt.

The rest of the day seems a blur to me. I made it through the rest of my classes. Those students were much younger. I didn't feel they should watch the footage over and over, so I kept the TV off. I would let them turn it on for the last five minutes of class to see if there were any updates. The day was spent trying to reassure a lot of students when I didn't have any answers either. It was a sobering experience.

At the end of the school day, I went home. Jim and I watched the news over and over. We learned of all the new developments and wondered, along with everyone else, how and why? We cried and worried before finally falling to sleep.

The next morning I returned to that law class, but now there was something different. I no longer felt like a fraud as I watched my class turn to me and wait for class to begin.

To read more stories of that day, visit Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer or the Carnival at Blogging Chicks.


3 Comments:

Blogger Pamela said...

Yours is one of several posts that that day had a major impact on the their profession -- made them or break

it made you....didn't it

Blogger Anna Venger said...

Another teacher who held herself together for the sake of her students. Good for you. Well done.

And so true about new teachers feeling inadequate to their task.

Blogger Malissa said...

thanks for sharing. I was so happy that my son was too small to know and that I didn't have to figure out how to explain this to a child--especially when I was numb myself.

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