Kids crying in class

Discussion in 'High School' started by a teacher, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. a teacher

    a teacher Cohort

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    Mar 21, 2015

    What do you all do when all of a sudden a kid (almost always a girl) becomes upset or is crying about some personal issue? This happens every once in a while and it's pretty weird. I guess they're carrying around a lot of drama and then it overflows when triggered by something.

    What I usually do is just let them step outside alone or with a friend when they request it. I ask them if they're ok or if they want to see their counselor. This is the professional approach, but given all the warm and fuzzy emphasis at my school I began to wonder if I'm supposed to get involved in calming them down. But I know they're not going to tell me the problem, and I'm also not their therapist.

    What do you do? I also imagine there may be a difference if you're a man or a woman, with women being more nurturing in their approach.
     
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  3. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Mar 21, 2015

    I am also male, and I'm not a very particularly warm and fuzzy teacher, so I generally tell them that it's okay if they want to step outside and get composed in the restroom if they like or to go to the office to call somebody.

    I find that if I try to pry, they close up even further, but I do let them know that I'm willing to listen if they want me to. Sometimes I will ask their friends (they usually explain what happened).
     
  4. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Mar 21, 2015

    I ask if they want to get a drink, go to the bathroom, or go to down to the office. I have one girl who goes through it at least once a month. Sometimes way more.
     
  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Mar 21, 2015

    What age group are you talking about?

    Also, there is a difference between a counselor and a therapist, but in truth, I consider myself a teacher - it is what it says on my name tag.

    If it is MS or HS drama, I might ask if they would like to go the the bathroom to dry their eyes or blow their nose - that would simply be a common courtesy. I've worked with MS and HS, and there is no way I would let an emotional student out of my classroom with another student because "they request it." If they need the emotional support, send them to the counselor, send them to the office, or send them to the nurse, but don't let them wander the school or distract the learning that should be going on.

    I care deeply for my students, but I know better than to buy into their drama - that's why I get to be called the adult. Since the school provides counselors, I let them counsel. If I have therapists on staff, I call the therapist. Then I continue teaching every other student in my classroom who is there for an education.

    And for what it is worth, I am a woman who knows better than to get involved with teenage drama and angst - there are just too many ways for anything I might say to be misconstrued, and the time I am spending with one student is time I am not spending with the other twenty students in the same class.

    I suggest asking your administration what the acceptable chain of events would be to cover this liklihood when it happens in your classroom.
     
  6. TamaraF

    TamaraF Companion

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    Mar 21, 2015

    If it is disrupting the class, I ask if she'd like to step out. If she's just sitting quietly, I casually hand over tissue while I'm walking around, and ask quietly if she's okay. Then I continue with my lesson. I do not get involved.
    On the other hand, I do have a number of girls who have been in my class in the past, and who confide in me. They often drop in for a chat. I listen, I give "adult" advice. I have even given hugs and chocolate! But that is not during class time, and even that group knows there is a clear line between us.
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I quietly approach the student and ask if they need a moment to themselves. Usually they say yes, go to the bathroom, and come back five minutes later with a better handle on things. Later, I approach the student again and ask them if they're doing okay, is there anything that I can do, and can I contact their school counselor?
     
  8. a teacher

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    Mar 23, 2015

    Great answers guys. In line also with my approach. So based on your responses I guess I've been doing the right thing. I was just wondering if I was falling short somehow and if I was supposed to be warm and fuzzy in my response. All the warm and fuzzy garbage I've been pressured to do at my school has me understandably confused.
     
  9. TonyBalonga

    TonyBalonga Rookie

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    I usually let them go where ever with a friend. A couple of times, feeling like I probably should do more, I have tried talking to them, but I think my intrusion introduced some thoughts that totally redirected their thinking and even though the crying stopped, I wondered if there was resolution.
     
  10. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I agree with the others that said let them go out of the room for a minute to compose themselves. I'm sure it's a disruption and whatever it is, you really can't have that when you're trying to teach. It could be drama or something more serious but it's not really your job to take time away from your class and calm them down. Be sympathetic but there is a limit.
     
  11. a teacher

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    Taking time away from class is not an issue, as I'd never do that. And they're not being disruptive. It was more a question of are we supposed to get warm and fuzzy or just kind of ignore it, as you all are implying.
     
  12. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Perhaps what you are picking up on is the sentiment that a student may need to be seen by a person more educated/skilled in handling these situations - counselors, therapists, nurses, or admin. I believe most teachers are empathetic enough to make contact and handle the situation, but since we are left with a classroom of other students needing our instruction, there could be a case made for handing off some of these situations. If there is any indication that a student needs to "talk out the situation" then I believe that there is a better individual to do that than the classroom teacher. I would also be very hesitant to involve another student in the incident - the last thing I would want to do is create a situation where there were multiple students out of supervision. That is a case where good intentions could backfire on the teacher. Drawing more attention to the situation may be counterproductive, so I would be happy to hand the student off to other staff with the right credentials.
     
  13. a teacher

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    In other words, "I ain't getting paid for this." :lol:
     
  14. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I think I would phrase it or consider it more like using the right "tool" for the job. Emotional distress, especially at HS, may have many layers, causes, and consequences. I wouldn't ask the counselor, therapist, or nurse to teach my class; I shouldn't be doing, or trying to do their job. Sometimes the cause is simple, sometimes there is a complicated back story. Just getting the student to the most qualified professional.
     
  15. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I don't have a problem taking time from class. I'm there to teach human beings, not robot children. If I ignored the people part of it I might as well upload videos to youtube and not even show up to the school building.

    I offer a trip to the bathroom. Depending upon the student and the amount of emotion I see, I'll ask questions. Usually I'll say "Ok, boy, girl drama, home, school or none of my business?" I try to help if I can. Sometimes the only help I can offer is a break from class.
     
  16. atomic

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    Apr 10, 2015

    I don't ask what's wrong anymore.

    They usually tell me anyway.

    The stories you hear as a teacher...they break your heart.
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    We don't theorhetically 'get paid' for a lot of things we do. Showing compassion and empathy for a student might not be written in your contract, but it makes a difference in so many ways. And one could argue it is a part of your job.:2cents:
     
  18. a teacher

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    That's strange. Most kids won't confide in most teachers, as responses to this thread also indicate. Are you being a "buddy" to these kids?
     
  19. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Maybe it depends upon the individual teacher and perhaps the subject matter being taught. Last year, one of my students used a writing assignment to tell me she was cutting herself. She was in dire need of help and was ashamed to tell her own mother, so she wrote about it to me instead, and I acted upon it immediately upon reading it.
     
  20. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Kids don't confide in teachers they don't trust or who they don't think care about them. If they know they can come to you, they do and you would be amazed at what they will tell you.

    And yes, we are getting paid for this. This is exactly what we are getting paid for. Supporting students' emotional well-being is tantamount to the teaching profession. Remember Maslow's hierarchy of needs? Students cannot learn if they do not feel safe and cared for. The need for an adult who cares about their lives and who is willing to listen to their problems is as real and fundamental as physical hunger. If you're not willing or able to be that adult, then I would question why you are teaching in the first place.
     
  21. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I also want to add that I agree with others who have recommended referring students to the counseling staff. That is absolutely appropriate and necessary. My above post was in reference to the attitude of "we're not paid to deal with students." I stand by my belief that we absolutely are paid to model empathy and compassion, including by making sure that students get the help they need from other professionals.
     
  22. a teacher

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    You're taking that statement out of context. I agree with you.
     
  23. a teacher

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    Apr 13, 2015

    That's not true. That's a little too warm and fuzzy for me. If you are that into emotions, you should be in counseling not teaching. Teaching requires first and foremost someone who can TEACH! The rest is nice but not terribly necessary.
     
  24. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I understand that you prefer to be cold and aloof. In spite of what you think, teachers are very often counselors as we meet all the needs of our students, not just academic needs. At least, that's the way it is in my world.
     
  25. TeacherNY

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    I think this is a difficult situation. While teachers must show empathy and compassion, they shouldn't be taking time away from class to address these issues. Also, I don't think it's appropriate to meet with students alone (even if it's the teacher's free period) to discuss such issues. I don't think it's being cold by saying something like, "I'm sorry you're dealing with something difficult". That shows compassion without getting too involved with the students' emotional problems. It's probably better that the teacher doesn't know too many details also.
     
  26. a teacher

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    :thumb:
    We're not therapists.
     
  27. a teacher

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    You're not meeting all the emotional needs of your students, but some teachers like to think they are. This reflects the teacher's psychology, not the kids'. I for one have never understood the need to feel that's what a teacher does. I am not cold and aloof. Don't you think there's a middle ground between being their surrogate mom or being cold?
     
  28. Flatty

    Flatty New Member

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    I teach in an all girls school. I have learned to ignore them. If they make a big deal of it and start wailing, I don't ask them nicely to leave, I tell them to get out and compose themselves. I am not the "fatherly" teacher on campus. Everyone knows me as the get down to business guy. I don't have time for high school girl drama.
     
  29. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    I'll usually ask if they are okay, then keep on going with class. I teach middle school, and I rarely have a day without tears. It's pretty evenly split boys & girls.
     
  30. a teacher

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    I like that. How are you perceived on campus?
     
  31. GeetGeet

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    May 10, 2015

    I think this is a matter of personality. Some teachers are open to helping a student emotionally, others are not, and I think students figure this out. The other week I had a student crying to me and talking for part of my class period in which students were working independently. She clearly needed some support, and I listened to her for a while but then sent her to the counsellor. Personally, I feel that supporting students emotionally is important. These are kids who sometimes need the support of adults that they trust but who aren't their family. I try to give them adult advice or just listen. But that's who I am--my mom is a therapist and I guess I have that in my blood somewhat. That doesn't mean that you have to be that way if it isn't in you. But I wouldn't hold it against a kid either or dismiss it as "drama." Some kids have serious things going on that I would never assume to be frivolous.
     

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