If found out while I was teaching, left class, and headed home to handle the situation. I was back at work before lunch was over. I was upset, I was hazy, and I probably had no business being in front of my students. "Power through," I told myself. The reality is that I was empty so I had nothing to give my students.
On the other side of the desk, I had a student that has missed some major assignments and finally came to me to say he has a sick relative that will be dying soon. I was forced to make a decision about whether to extend some grace and have some empathy or use this as an opportunity to teach this child a lesson about responsibility and being proactive. I thought back to my time in high school and losing my grandmother mid-year. I was devastated and probably also missed a few assignments during my own grieving process.
I picked option C.
I used the opportunity to share my own grief with the student and how I was feeling in class. Yes, we talked about being proactive. Yes, I am going to allow my student to have the opportunity to make up the assignment for a fraction of the points. I used the opportunity to talk about processing grief and continuing to move forward through difficult situations because life isn't easy and managing it is one of the most important skills people can learn. The most important thing I did was listen.
No, I'm not a professional. What I can provide is a listening ear for people that feel they don't have any other person that cares what they have to say.
I've had several students suffer the loss of loved ones, both via violent and natural causes. I always take the same approach: Teach the student. Care for the child.
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