Ah, the bulleted lists. So useful, so common, so easy to skim and scan. Monday’s lists were reminders of Friday’s. No matter how we try, the losses add up to more than a list.
The lists in my inbox were anything but simple.
From the CEO: general guidelines to consider while talking with students, including:
- Address the issue rather than pretend nothing happened.
- Normalize the day as much as possible.
- Explain why the flag is being flown at half-staff.
- There will be many “teachable moments”.
- If it comes up, it may be useful to review our lock down and code-red procedures.
Lock down and code red? We thought of nothing else. In our virtual school, we work from cubicles and contact our students by phone and computer. We talked among ourselves about procedure and theory, how to cope, how to hide, how to get the phone call out to 911. Nothing official, no staff meeting, but our principal understood our need to talk.
Speaking of which, the principal sent out a memo to families that included its own bulleted list.
- Try and keep routines as normal as possible.
- Limit exposure to television and the news.
- Be honest with kids and share with them as much information as they are developmentally able to handle.
- Listen to kids’ fears and concerns.
- Reassure kids that the world is a good place to be, but that there are people who do bad things.
Some people do bad things, but most of the world is a good and safe place. That’s a tough sell for many of today’s kids – and adults. The last line, however, is important.
Let’s move on to the last list of the email day: a memo from the director of special education. His list was the shortest, but perhaps the most valuable of the three. He reminded us that the shooter was rumored – rumored – to have Asperger’s. If the young man was on the autism spectrum, or if he wasn’t, he was only one person. Keep these truths in mind.
- Asperger’s is a developmental disability that does not cause people to think or act violently.
- People with disabilities are no more likely to commit violent crimes than those without disabilities.
- People with disabilities are more likely to be victims of crime than those without disabilities.
- The shooting in Newtown was the act of one individual and should not reflect on any group of people, disabled or otherwise. (emphasis mine)