Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Depression

I'm happiest to live in complete ignorance about my students' personal lives. Teaching where I do, I often learn things that tear me up inside.

I'm out of my classroom for a few weeks while an intern student teaches. I walked back in the vicinity of my room this afternoon, something I've avoided doing, and saw one of my students in the hall crying, waiting to talk with our counselor. I pulled the student into the empty workroom and asked what was wrong. The story I got could have been a soap opera.

The father left the mother for her sister, the child's aunt. This happened some time ago. The father has been lying to the mother and child. Now the aunt is claiming that the student is calling and cursing at her. She is telling the father this is happening and doing all she can to turn him against his child. The aunt is also calling this student and cursing. Finally, the student says to me, "And I'm not doing well in school."

It was all I could do to not cry. I told the child that school is not always the most important thing (is that a cardinal sin for a teacher) and that taking care of oneself is critical. I just sat with the student until the counselor was finished with her previous group (two of my other students, no less). School counselors are saints.

I'm amazed at the strength and perseverance shown by my students. I learn so much from them.

7 comments:

damned_cat said...

I know, sometimes I hear their stories and wonder how they can even get out of bed in the morning, how they can function at school. Then I realize it's probably because school is such a haven from this home crap they're dealing with, and that going home is really the hard part of the day. seeing a former counselor at my school sit under a tree, shoulder-to-shoulder with a child who had bitten her in a rage not long before, just sitting and listening to her talk, made me realize counselors are saints. you are so right.

Snippety Gibbet said...

That just breaks my heart.

Counselors ARE saints, but so are the teachers such as you who care so deeply.

organized chaos said...

That is so hard. Its times like that I can't get out of my head for days and just haunt me while I'm in safe, loving house. The kids we work with are so incredibly strong. They are what make me get out of bed in the morning!

Blink said...

You will probably never know how much of an impact your few minutes of attention made on your student. But, of course, that isn't why you responded. You did it because someone needed you. Pure and simple. I hope things settle down for your student.

splatypus said...

It's very hard to look at their little faces wondering what they are dealing with at home. How can I expect them to pay attention when they didn't get any sleep the night before because an absent dad showed up in the middle night drunk? It's heartbreaking. A lot of our kiddos have loads on their shoulders that I can't even comprehend.

alotalot said...

Not a sin! You're right. Sometimes there are more important things than school. Too many people think the world will fall apart if they skip a day and stay in bed, but those days can really make the difference.

Tracey said...

I was looking back at some of your older posts and I came across this one. I too have students going through the same thing every day. My sister always asks me why I stay in such an area where the kids have so many problems. My answer has always been...I feel I am one of the only stable things in my kids lives and I feel they need me more here then in a more affluent area would. Keep up the good work. The kids will remember you!