Last week was one of the longest and most difficult I've experienced as an educator. The first source of stress was the closing of Second Quarter grades. The second was our monthly faculty meeting, although that really wasn't as stressful as much as it was simply a time commitment. Despite much of the negative publicity that seems to surround teachers and faculty meetings, it's my feeling that our principal really tries to make our meetings as relevant and engaging as possible. For the most part, he succeeds at this task. I can honestly say I actually enjoy some of these meetings!
The third stressor was the fact that we weren't allowed to use our computers because a Trojan had infected the entire network. This was a MAJOR problem for me, as so much of what I do in the classroom is dependent on technology. It appears that most computers have been fixed, but the mini-lab in my room still needs to pass a clean bill of health before I can reconnect to the network. Given that my 9th grade students are working on short stories, I really need the ability to do word processing. They could initially write their stories by hand, but eventually I want the stories posted to their class blogs, so the sooner we have the ability to get them into digital form, the better.
The greatest stressor though, the one that really puts those above three items into perspective, is that one of my students, a 15-year-old freshman, killed herself. It's an unbelievably tragic event that has really rocked my world and the school community. While some of my peers have met tragic ends - via cancer, a motorcycle accident, and suicide by hanging - I've never had a student so young die, let alone take her own life.
The circumstances surrounding why she killed herself are complicated, and currently under investigation by local and state authorities. As such, I'm reluctant to say much more. I do know that the word of her death devastated me for the past few days. I found myself thinking about her constantly, searching for some kind of insight or solace. One of the last things she said to me involved a conversation she had had with a former student of mine. "Mitch said I'm really lucky to have you as a teacher," she told me. I told her I appreciated the sentiment, and that I enjoyed having Mitch in class. What I wanted to tell her, what was on the tip of my tongue, what I would have said had I not at that moment been distracted by one of my other students, was that I was equally as lucky to have her as a student.