Power of Community Overcomes Hardship and Brings About Change
“And we know we can't do this by ourselves. It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize, no matter how much you love these kids, you can't do it by yourself. That this job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community, and the help of a nation. And in that way, we come to realize that we bear a responsibility for every child because we're counting on everybody else to help look after ours; that we're all parents; that they're all our children.” --President Barack Obama, December 16, 2012, during the interfaith vigil in honor of the victims of the shootings at Sandy Hill Elementary School.
In his speech on the tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama pointed out a simple, powerful truth: the job of teaching our children well depends upon community. While this proposition may seem self-evident to educators who already collaborate to explore shared inquiry questions about teaching and learning, it is an idea that has, so far, not gained much traction as a driver of policy plans to support school improvement.
Change begins when we stand up and acknowledge that the status quo is unacceptable. And it takes root when better alternatives emerge. Sandy Hook has awakened many to question the propensity for violence in our society. Several NCLE stakeholder organizations have stepped forward with resources and guidelines to hasten the healing and deepen learning in the aftermath of the horror in Newtown:
- ASCD: Honoring and Supporting Our Educators in the Wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy
- AMLE Grieves the Sandy Hook Tragedy
- NAESP Statement on Shooting at Connecticut Elementary School
- NASSP Responds to Sandy Hook Tragedy
- NCTE: Responding to Tragedy in Schools: Supporting Teachers and Students
The need for community is evident during “routine” weeks in the classroom, as well as in times of crisis. We need to work collectively to provide learning experiences that challenge the imagination of students, that stretch them as readers, writers, and problem solvers in every classroom. The cruelty in Newtown is a blow; we must respond by coming together as a national community to provide the conditions that not only safeguard student safety, but also systematically lead to richer teaching and learning. By learning about how teams of educators and others are working systematically to fashion powerful changes in their schools and districts to do what is best for the children of the nation, we have a practical way to tackle this essential challenge.