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.