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I should’ve taken the time

Yesterday during a teacher observation, a student asked me to step into the hall and talk with them. At the time, it didn’t seem urgent. With this student in particular, we have talked often. Sometimes it was important, other times—from my perspective—it didn’t seem that urgent. 

When I asked her if it could wait 10 minutes, she shut down. I could see the change in how she sat and participated, withdrawing into her desk and no longer asking for help from those around her. There was a noticeable difference in how she interacted with her peers the minute those words came out. 

When I noticed the change, I tried to drop everything right there and talk with her. Let’s go talk, right now, I said. No, it’s fine, she replied. And despite my multiple check-ins while she was working independently, she declined the opportunity to talk again that hour. 

Without even realizing it, I had damaged our relationship. 

We ended up talking later that the day. I saw her as she walked to her next class period, and we were able to talk about what she really wanted to talk about: the process for asking an adult in the building to be her mentor. 

While I’m thankful that we were able to talk and connect later, I continue to be frustrated about that moment, my failure to recognize how important that was to her, right then at that moment, to have a need met, a question that needed answered. How many of our students feel the same way throughout the day?

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