A calculus student came in today after being gone several days for school activities. Before she could make it into my room, I saw tears starting to form.
“What’s going on?”
“I’m having an anxiety attack.”
“Ok. You’re not making up that quiz today, got it?” as I held her shaking body.
I ushered her in my friend’s classroom next door, who had plan that hour (and who had the student last year so I knew we could tag team). We closed the door and just let her cry.
Crying is so good for us.
I had to get back to class but I had her write down everything that was stressing her out and put them in one of two columns: “I can control” and “I can’t control.”
And then my friend took over and I left the two of them to talk things through while I went back to my class.
When class was over, she came back in. I could tell she was at least temporarily better. We talked about her list. We talked about what she could control.
I spoke with both her and a family member later and they were so incredibly grateful.
For postponing a calc quiz?
They asked, “What teacher does this for her students?”
And I kept saying, “Literally EVERY teacher I know would have made the same call.”
It was bizarre to me.
And then it hit me: maybe the weird part wasn’t my reaction. Maybe the weird part was the vulnerability that allowed me to have that reaction.
It’s not the response that’s unique.
But maybe having a space where a student feels it’s ok to break down–maybe that is more unique than I’ve admitted.
I’m not saying every kid feels comfortable opening up in my room.
I’m saying I wish they did.
I’m saying I will work to make it that way.
I’m saying I’m thankful this girl does feel that way.
It’s the only way to live: to let people see our real selves.