September 11, 2014

A New Perspective on this Day

For the first time in my nine years teaching, I plan to spend my entire day talking only of the events on 9/11. In my current role as a history teacher (a job I'm LOVING, by the way), I feel it's my duty to teach my students about the events of this historic day, but I have to admit that I'm a bit anxious (I'm typing this during my first period study hall) about how I will hold up throughout the day. 

Like most of us who lived through that terrifying morning, I can still recall almost every detail as if it just happened yesterday. It's still very emotional for me. I know it's going to be hard to walk them through the interactive memorial timeline as planned six times. To hear the voices, see the images, and watch the videos time after time, when I can still vividly recall them in my own mind... it will be tough. 

But I know it's important.

My seventh graders were either newborns or still in their mother's wombs on this day in 2001. I have one student who celebrates this as her day of birth. And several more who know it as a measure of their upcoming birthdays. These innocent twelve year-old students have very little understanding of how this day has impacted all of our lives moving forward. 

Today will be a day that I clear up their misconceptions (some I heard about yesterday when we completed a document analysis using a news article written about a survivor's experience as shared on September 12, 2001) and inform them of the truth. Today will be a day that I pass on a piece of history that has impacted me in ways even I probably will never fully understand.  

Today, I will share with them the audio recordings, videos, flight manifests, and pictures of artifacts found at the scene. And then I will share with them my own 9/11 story, which they've been asking about for two weeks now. 

I hope to walk away from today feeling like I've truly taught my students a lesson they'll never forget. Because then it will be worth all the emotion I feel.


  1. How did the rest of the day go? I think what you planned sounds like a wonderful learning experience for your students. A teacher I worked with was talking to me about her own struggles as a mom of a four year old trying to explain that Patriot Day isn't a holiday like the 4th of July when he asked why he needed to wear red, white, and blue for preschool.

  2. I hope your day went well - I'm not sure if I could relate the events with all that detail because I'm not sure I could contain my emotion. My son is one of those 7th graders who was still in his mother's womb on that day and my husband was in flight training as a commercial pilot out west. I remember the absolute horror and panic I felt as a pregnant mother - alone. Although he lost his job as a pilot as a result of that day, he has his life and that of course has made all the difference.

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle