The Heavy Responsibility of Teaching

This week for the first time I had a student approach me about some personal issues that were affecting her ability to continue in the class. These are not the typical “my dog ate my homework” excuses that I am fairly accustomed to, instead, she came to me and shared some legitimate crisis that she was having in her life and wanted to know if I could help her.

Even though I am 31 years old, my intitial response was to try to send her to one of the “adults”. There must be some person who deals with this type of thing and is older and wiser than me. But she didn’t go to an “adult”, she came to me. And regardless of my age, I felt very immature when faced with this situation. I simply hadn’t had a lot of experience in this department.

I tried to hide my self-doubt and let her know that she could be open with me, and I would do what I could for her. She seemed relieved that I was judging her or worried about the quiz she had missed.

In the end I couldn’t do much for her except listen and refer her to some other services that the university offers. Since then I have seen her back in class and make a point of asking her how she’s doing. It turned out well, but it made me realize the sobering responsibility all teachers have towards their students.

3 thoughts on “The Heavy Responsibility of Teaching”

  1. Good for you! I think sometimes we get so bogged down with out teaching, we forget how to be a “person.” Building a relationship with students based on trust and honesty may be just as important (and is in my opinion) as being knowledgeable about the content of the course. College is tough; sometimes students need to talk. It’s important that we make time for them.

  2. The relationship between teacher and student should be flexible and there should be space to share the professional matter and issue willingly and openly. Professor/teacher can be a good mentor. Building the trust is really important for that.

  3. It was very kind of you that you at least listened to her problem and gave her some time to make up the things she missed in the course. Definitely, teaching is not giving some lecture in class. We are dealing with people so other aspects of humanity must be taken in to account as well.

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