"It's Not a Great Friday for Me"

I was picking up my students on Friday with a big smile on my face. I recently recommitted myself to keeping an overwhelmingly positive attitude.

"Good morning! Are you ready for a great Friday?" I said with as much enthusiasm as I can muster at 8:15 am.

"Mr. Brosbe, it's not a great Friday for me," said the little girl at the front of the line.

"Why not?"

"Because-because..." before she could explain, huge tears starting rolling down her cheeks.

Upstairs, she was finally able to tell me why it would not be a great Friday for her. The night before there was a fight outside her apartment. Two people, including the son of her mom's friend, were killed.

I was in shock as she recounted the story. Tears rolling down her face, my test prep lesson forgotten, I couldn't stop tears from coming to my eyes too.

There are days when my classroom could be any classroom, anywhere in New York City. Then there days like Friday when I'm shocked to my senses, reminded of where I am, and who my students are.

In my fourth year, I've developed a bit of a wall compared to my first year where the challenges of my school's community felt like a constant weight on my shoulders. In some ways it may make me a better teacher. But in others I worry that I've become desensitized. Friday morning was an instant cure for that condition.


Thanks for sharing this story with us.

Sometimes being an effective teacher means not ploughing ahead but taking time to truly address the human situations at hand. Your student is lucky to have a teacher like you.

How do you strike a balance between being kind and compassionate and allowing the difficulties your students face to overwhelm and emotionally exhaust you?

I've never been very good at it. I'd love some suggestions.

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