When Students Cry

By Kate Michaelson

September 12, 2016

When Students Cry

I know I shouldn’t hug them, but I can’t seem to stop, though I’m sure HR would advise it. I’d like to stop their crying as well, but that’s even less tractable. Like the girl last fall who came to my 8:00 class wearing loose shirts and, after arriving late one day, told me she was pregnant.

“Congratulations,” I’d murmured, because I say the wrong things.

“It’s not a congratulations type of thing,” she’d responded. With two kids already, she also worked at the hospital—yet she assured me she’d “be okay.” She wasn’t due until winter break and was pretty sure she’d be able to finish the class.

She suffered morning sickness and missed frequently or arrived late, but she went for tutoring when I told her to get extra help. She used the computer at the public library near her apartment and came to my office hours where she confessed she didn’t know how to write “so that things sounded right.” I didn’t have to ask what she meant, but encouraged her that the more she read, the easier it would become. Some days she was so tired she cried. I told her then I admired her—she was doing something harder than I could imagine. Of course I hugged her.

In the last week of the term, she sent me an email with the subject line “sorry.” I sighed when I saw it—this time of year many students were sorry. As I read on, she apologized because she was in labor and wouldn’t be in class.

She wrote, “I have my laptop and my mom will deliver the final drafts to your office.” That’s where I found them the next morning, curled up in my mailbox, like my own new arrival.


Photo provided by applyforonlinegrantsmoney.blogspot.com/ via Flickr's Creative Commons license

Keywords: teaching
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Comments (10) - Post a Comment
Achingly beautiful.
Marilyn Bousquin at 8:41am EDT - September 12, 2016
Thank you.
Jan Priddy at 8:49am EDT - September 12, 2016
This is a beautiful story of compassion, courage and connection. Thank you.
Melissa Wiginton at 9:04am EDT - September 12, 2016
Beautiful human connection...what trust you must inspire in your students!
Joanne at 9:20am EDT - September 12, 2016
"This time of year many students were sorry" has such beautiful foreboding and wisdom. Lovely end.
Pamela Rothbard at 9:55am EDT - September 12, 2016
The way you chose to write this story - simply, quietly and prosaically - limns beautifully its human drama.
Carol D Marsh at 10:36am EDT - September 12, 2016
Lisa K. Buchanan at 3:48pm EDT - September 12, 2016
Thank you for hugging them. It did my heart good just reading about it. You are strengthening minds and hearts with your work.
Beth Howard at 4:11pm EDT - September 12, 2016
Compassionate and compelling, thanks for sharing a beautiful story.
David Michaelson at 7:49pm EDT - September 14, 2016
So proud of you Kate Michaelson!
connie oney at 9:02am EDT - September 17, 2016

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