In 2002, I began my teaching career in Brooklyn. I remember several kindergarten students pointing at the health benefits guide I just received. "Twin Towers!" they said as they pointed at the book. I looked at the back and saw the outdated guide had a photo of the skyline on it. These little ones were four when the towers fell. And they remembered.
In most of those early years, I never taught an explicit Patriot Day/September 11th lesson. I didn't need to. My students remembered. They knew what happened. Our classroom conversations were about bravery and the importance of our firefighters and police officers. We wrote letters to first responders thanking them for keeping us safe. I tried to answer the "why" questions as best as I could. I tried to make our classroom a safe space for their questions and their comments.
As the years passed, this day has become more difficult, not easier. This is my second class that was born after September 11th. They've heard of the World Trade Center. They've seen old footage of the towers. They've heard of Osama bin Laden. But they don't KNOW. Not in the way my older classes knew. So their questions are honest and uncensored. And hard to answer. It's not my goal to get them to understand how that one day completely changed this amazing city, but they should know what happened that day.
I let BrainPop do the talking today. We stopped to talk. They made connections to stories told by their families. And aunt who worked downtown. An uncle who is a firefighter. They talked about seeing the Freedom Tower.
We remember. Never forget.