In What it Means to Show Up from http://petalsofjoy.org/ by Petals of Joy, Heather shares about how her 11 year old daughter helped her friend during her mother’s death. Her daughter had a choice of attending the funeral or going to play with another friend.
“She chose to show up for her hurting friend.”
I thought about my students when I read this post. Many times my students have come to class and been upset about something. Sometimes they want to talk about it and other times they don’t. But sometimes they just want to be with someone. Sometimes it is important to just be there for them.
They don’t always want me to fix their problems even if they say they do. I’ve told my husband about a situation and he always seems to want to fix my problem and that frustrates me. I don’t want him to fix it but I want him to listen to me and really hear me. Sometimes it helps me to just verbalize the problem.
Sometimes they are dealing with a situation that they can’t verbalize it. Sometimes it might just be confusing emotions and they just need someone to be there with them. This is important for them to know that they are not alone. When I was growing up, I remember how all alone I felt many times and it was scary. Of course I never felt I could tell anyone that or they might think that I’m crazy. I need to remember these feelings so I can understand my students better.
Sometimes it helps just to let students know that I am here if they need me. By doing this, I am giving students space but letting them know they can come to me if they want to. Then when they do come to me, it is important that I really am there for them. I need to pay attention and not multitask. This is not the time to be grading papers or working on my computer. By being there, I need to make eye contact and make sure my body language shows that I am being attentive. Too many times it is easy to fall into behaviors that distract me from a difficult or uncomfortable situation. I think this is a kind of defensive mechanism to protect myself and I need to be very conscious about this behavior.
How are you “there” for your students? Please share.