Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Do You?

Bloggy Buds,

I tend to be an upbeat, optimistic person (hence the name "Smiles and Sunshine" :). However, some days it's hard. 11 years ago, this day, heck, this whole week was hard.

I've always known that I have wanted to be a teacher. Realizing this, I knew that there were going to be some days where I got some uncomfortable questions, or at least questions I was unsure how to answer.

Today was one of those days. I had asked in advanced if the school was doing anything for today. I was told no, so I didn't plan anything, unsure of what the principal wanted, and if it was even okay to teach about today.

Expect...I forgot to plan on my kids. A few of them clearly knew about how special today was, and wore red, white and blue to celebrate. Some of them had no idea. Some of them didn't care.

So, there I was, teaching math, having no intention of talking about today, when a few of my kids started talking about it (it came about from the red, white and blue outfit), and some of what I heard saddened me. There were some questions, so I felt that I needed to talk about today, to share the importance, to have them understand why it's so important not to be a bucket dipper (a bully).

I was unsure what to do about it, so I talked to my para, who felt I had to talk to them, and a team member, who told me to tell them to talk to their parents and not really touch on it. I felt uncomfortable not telling them anything, and if they had questions (within reason) about anything, it was my job as an educator to answer them.

Having no plans, I went to the internet. I looked at the BrainPop video, and the Nick News video. I didn't feel comfortable showing either of these, I wanted to err on the side of caution with this, and there were areas that both of these touched on that bothered me a bit (I work in a more conservative area, if you showed this, PLEASE don't be offended that I didn't feel comfortable, it was not intended...I tend to be overly cautious about certain things, not wanting to get in any trouble).

Next, I went to my librarian, knowing there were a couple of books that I could read to them. She came through with a couple of books and a poem. (I read List of Don't Forgets and Remembers).

I started reading The Man that Walked Between the Towers to introduce it. The ending was powerful, and I had some questions (which turned out better than I expected) on why they were gone. That led me into telling them what had happened, the simplest way I could. I read them the poem, and then I read September 12th.
I took some questions, and then I told them that if they had anymore, they should talk to their parents. So, my questions for you are:
 Do you ignore a colleague's advice? 
What do you do when you get those uncomfortable questions?
Do you teach about 9-11?

Smiles and Sunshine,


  1. I think that every teacher has to go with her/his gut on these types of things. I would have gone about it the same way you did.

    Fun in Room 4B

  2. The Man Who walked between Two Towers is fantastic! If you have bookflix it is on there and they do a really good job with it. I know NYC Public Library has bookflix on their website for those holding a library card. Maybe the local libraries in your areas do as well.

  3. Oh my goodness - my AP and I had this exact same visit yesterday morning when we were trying to figure out what to put on our marquee. He had a book called The Little Chapel That Stood and it's a good one! I also found this list at Apples4theTeacher:


    I'd forgotten about September 12th . . . thanks for the reminder! I think that you CAN have courageous conversations with your kids though I get how it's touchy when it deals with terrorism and horror and could scare them. 4th graders can be kind of worried about death developmentally, so it's especially important to be sensitive . . . I'm sure you did a fantastic job! At the K-3 level, we try to focus on the heroes and their courage!

    The Corner On Character

  4. Due to movies and video games kids sometimes gets confused about what is real and not. Last year we read a TFK article about the Titanic and many of my students said, "I thought this was just a movie. I didn't know it actually happened." They were shocked!

    We did a KWL chart and watched the brainpop video. Personally, I thought the video did a great job of bringing the topic down to their level. I think it cleared up many misconceptions they had. I was surprised to realize that they only knew about the twin towers and none of them knew about the Pentagon or the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. I think they also thought everyone in the buildings died and most were happy to hear that a lot of people were able to get out of the buildings. They also felt comforted that the towers are being re-built. Of course their main question was "WHY?". I thought the video actually gave them an answer.

    All of that being said, 4th Grade Social Studies in Texas is Texas History. It is all about battles, wars and the Native American's history. Our 4th Graders take a 12hr (total) field trip to San Antonio and re-enact the Battle of the Alamo. My 3rd Graders are a year and a half away from their trip and it's all they talk about!!

    It's a definitely a personal decision but I think to ignore it makes no sense. That is sad. I teach in a predominately African American School and during Black History Month, it is my job to teach about the good, but I have a responsibility to teach about the unpleasant truths as well. I think it is an injustice to ignore something that makes you uncomfortable. Personally, I think you did the right thing not listening to your co-worker. You obviously know your students & parents and know what works and what doesn't.

    Sorry about the rambling, I just feel strongly that ignoring history is ignorant.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and opinions.

      I agree that the video was a good one. But, I work in a very conservative area where some of our students are not allowed to watch videos. I felt a little uncomfortable showing it because it did make some religious references that I was not sure how would go over in a new area.

      I agree that we need to teach all history, especially the uncomfortable things that don't always portray us in a good light, or bring feelings to the surface. It just needs to be done in a way that makes everyone feel comfortable with what they are doing.

      I felt better talking to my students about it, and will definitely make time in my plans for it next year.

      Thank you again for sharing your thoughts!

      :) Kaitlyn


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