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While filling my car with gas the other night, I was witness to a situation that has haunted my dreams a little ever since. I watched a woman fighting with her partner and then start walking away while the partner drove off.
This may not seem too intense, but this particular gas station is about a seven-minute drive to town and it was also raining. What made things worse was that as I was watching, trying to decide if I should help or not, the woman was getting angry at those of us watching the situation unfold and she started yelling at us. I felt helpless. I wanted to offer her a ride yet, didn't dare because I didn't want to upset her anymore. So I did as she wanted and left her alone. Pulling out of that gas station and driving the other direction, my heart was breaking.
Sometimes teaching feels the same way. We have students who act tough and don't want our help, but deep-down NEED our help. How do we respond to those situations? Do we just ignore them and let them wallow in their anger, or do we go against their wishes and find a way to help them?
I may never see that woman from the gas station again in the flesh, but I will never forget the scene with her walking away in the cold, rainy night as I drove the other way. I don't ever want that same feeling at the end of the school year thinking back on my students and what could have been.