I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. As a student I was always helping other classmates to study, helping with exams and helping with after school study. When I began my teacher training I would have thought I was very realistic and prepared for what the job would entail. I knew I would have behaviour issues, I knew some children would need more help than others, I knew there would be different learning styles and abilities, I knew not all students would like me, I knew about the long days and the work I would have to bring home with me. Despite all of this I still wanted to do it to make a difference and help students find their potential. What I was not prepared for was the emotional impact and the heartbreak I could potentially face. I did not think about the children being sick, some terminally, students loosing people close to them, students who come from a bad home life, and the students who have no body to rely on but you. How do teachers as human beings prepare for this? Honestly I do not think we can.
In the schools I have worked in so far I have come across students who have nothing, the students from dysfunctional families and students who have lost those closest to them. In the moments I thought my heart would break. Different people deal with this is different ways. I talked to other teachers and to friends and family (omitting names of course). I also cried for these students and for how unfair their young lives seemed to be but when I was with the students I put on a friendly smile and made sure I was there for them in a supportive role. What I found most difficult is encountering the students who have serious illness. This effected me in a different way. I think this is because there is no way I can physically help them to get better. I can support and offer guidance but I cannot fight the illness. I feel helpless.
I have been struggling to deal with this for a time now but this week I met someone who offered great insight and support even if he did not realise. This person was a chaplain. He has seen a lot of the world and has encountered heartbreak and disaster numerous times. When he was asked how he dealt with this and the effect it has on him personally he said that even in the worst situations light and love in some form can be found. He used the recent Berkley tragedy as an example. Even throughout the horror of the accident the sense of togetherness and support offered by students across Ireland and America created a beacon of love and light in the darkness.