“He’s very quiet and he really doesn’t talk to anyone.” “He had a sad look in his eyes all the time.” These are just two of the many quotes from articles I’ve read since the latest school shooting in Chardon Ohio. I just realized that I wrote “latest school shooting” as if this has become as common as the tornados that ripped through the Midwest this week. It has, unfortunately. The prosecutor in this case is quoted as saying, “this is not about bullying or drugs- this is someone who is not well.” He’s right, the shooter in this case and in all cases is not well. Some are diagnosed psychotic, bipolar, some depressed, some so angry that releasing bullets from a gun is the only release for the painful emotions they have stored since being alive.
As a classroom teacher for twenty-three years, I’ve encountered many young people and the commonality among them is the desire to be heard and seen. I learned to master looking beyond the anger, shyness, and acting out that I witnessed in my classrooms. Most teachers who have strong emotional intelligence do this. Social and emotional learning is not “airy fairy” it is REAL. It must become a major part of the educational system, check out casel.org. Our young people are in need of this training just as much as they must be competent in math and reading. Everyone has a story and wants to know that what they say matters to someone.