Dear Bates Families,
I am writing to share with you how the teachers at Bates approached discussing Wednesday’s disturbing events at the Capitol with students this week. In order to prepare for meeting our students yesterday, I met with the teachers before school so we could reflect on this tragic day in our nation’s history and calibrate our approach to supporting our students. Our approach with difficult news is to meet students where they are and reassure them that the adults at school will do all we can to keep them safe. In some classes, particularly in our youngest grades, Wednesday’s events didn’t come up at all, or only one or two students asked to share their concerns with the teacher. In these classrooms, teachers respected the students who did not know about the events by privately supporting those individuals who expressed concerns. In some of our older classrooms, where most or all of the students were aware of Wednesday’s events, teachers led whole class discussions that involved students sharing what they knew and how they felt, teachers providing clarifying factual information and students asking how they can help to make a difference. I am so proud of the Bates teachers for the thoughtfulness with which they approached these important lessons and our students for their empathy, thoughtfulness and leadership.
As you may recall, our evacuation drills were scheduled for yesterday and today. The faculty and I discussed whether to reschedule these drills in light of Wednesday’s events. We decided to hold the drills as planned for several reasons. For one, the students knew they were scheduled and were anticipating them. In addition, the opportunity to practice safety protocols provides confidence that our community is prepared. Officer Poirier and I reassured students that the likelihood of needing to quickly leave the school was very unlikely, yet if we ever needed to, they were very well prepared. Students responded very positively by listening to teacher directions and running from the building to their meeting spots. We considered the drills a success.
It felt like a long first week back to school, but now we can embrace the weekend to rest and recharge. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.