That Monday, it was chaotic. A fourth of my first period students were missing, and a couple of students from other classes were wandering in, just arriving from the protest. I had students come up to me, crying, and hug me. They were confused. They were sad. They were hurt.
At that point I decided that, since the news was already out, I’d do what I had thought would be the best approach in the first place. I sat each of my classes down, explained why this was happening, showed them the public documents on the district website outlining who would be let go and why. Showed them that there was nothing to be done at this point in time. In addition, I explained that it was no one person's fault. It was the result of several years of poor financial choices by both the district and the state. It was the only legal way the district could cover the deficit. I understood. I wanted them to understand. I told them I was one of the 17. (I refused to tell them who any of the other teachers were, because that wasn’t my business to tell.) I let them ask any question they wanted, answering the best that I could and being honest when I didn’t know the answer. The questions ranged from “When will we find out if our teachers get their jobs back?” to “How will things change if no one gets their jobs back?” to the more personal “Mademoiselle, what will YOU do?” “Will you look for another job?” “Can we do something for you?” “What will happen to you?” It was difficult. Some students cried. I looked at it as an opportunity to do some life teaching. This lesson: How to react with dignity and grace when something bad happens to you. I told them they had that one day to ask questions, and that after that, it would be back to French for the rest of the year. We would not be obsessed by this. In the end, I reiterated hope.
I didn’t love my job, I didn’t have a car payment, a husband, kids, or a mortgage. Heck, I didn’t even have an apartment. My stuff was already in storage. The only real commitment I had was my dog Nolie, but luckily she gets along well with my parents’ dogs and my family loves her anyway. (Thanks again, Mom, Dad, Brandon, & Michael!) I thought to myself "If you don't do this now, when WILL you?! How perfect does it have to be for you to do it?"
But I could never follow
No I could never follow