Amanda* stormed into Study Hall today, slammed her books down, yanked her chair out, and huffed as she slumped down into her seat. Other students looked to me to gauge my reaction, but I kept a straight face. I could have spoken to her and demand that she watch where she was going, for she almost knocked another student over on the way in the room. I could have ignored it completely, for she was quiet now. But something was obviously wrong.
Instead, I walked over to her and sat down. “Amanda, are you okay?”
I sat there and waited for her to respond. I didn’t rush her.
After looking up at me, then back at her work, and then at the clock, she sighed. Then she said, “Ms. K, can I go to the bathroom?”
I said she could, as I thought, Wow, I really blew that one. Maybe I sprang into action too quickly. Maybe she just wasn’t ready to spill what was on her mind. So, I took attendance, cleaned up a few areas, and checked my email.
When I turned around about five minutes later, there stood Amanda.
I smiled at her and pointed to a table without other students. As we sat down, out came all of her frustrations and anger that had bottled up inside her.
So many of our students keep their fears hidden from others. They need to hear from us teachers that we want to know what’s troubling them. That we care. I don’t always know which students have a shoulder to cry on, and those that feel completely alone, so I do my best to ask them all.
*Student’s name changed to protect her privacy.