Burn your lesson plans your students need you!
Yesterday, I dropped everything and stopped teaching. Abandoned my planned lessons. I even let a young, female student excessively curse as she spoke to me.
And I am not ashamed.
Why? My student needed me – and that trumps any video of the American and French Revolutions in my world. I will admit, for a brief second, I was really temped to just get everyone back on track and get my lesson going. But then I looked around at my classroom full of students – and saw the concerned and frustrated faces staring back at me as the young female student explained that another student – a male student – had put a hand on her child after school the day before. And I knew that this was a time my student needed me to help them navigate this situation – and that I was about to set an example for the rest of my students about what it really means to be a teacher.
She went on to explain the situation – and her absolute fury was evident. I mean, what parent wouldn’t be furious someone put their hand on their child! This was obviously an issue that needed to be address – especially with the legal issues hanging over it. In the end, as we worked through the situation together, our class bonded, empathized, and quickly realized how much we need to be there for one another. Other students gave advice, and both us teachers in the classroom expressed our concerns.
In the end, I expressed my apologies that she was going through this and dealing with a situation like this one. She actually replied back that she was sorry we never got to the American and French Revolution videos. But to me, there was absolutely no apology needed from her.
Why am I telling you this story? Because I want you to be brave enough to stop teaching when your students need you the most. Sometimes, it might even improve your overall classroom dynamics for the rest of the year. Your students know you’re there for them when they need you. Your awareness is something that students are looking for when they have no one else to turn to. Make sure you keep yourself open to and aware of your students emotional distress and signs they might need someone to turn to.