Friday, April 03, 2009

sometimes it pays

...not to be a total hard-ass.

I gave a test this morning in one of my more advanced classes. Before the test - about 1/2 hour before - one of my students showed up.

"I'm going to ask a big favor of you," he said. "I'll understand if you say no but I want to explain first."

He went on to explain that he had been putting his life back together (and he was doing pretty well) after a drug addiction. And that this spring he had been having some difficulties - he had been diagnosed with OCD (given some of the things he did and said in class, this makes complete sense) and they still didn't have his meds calibrated right (and I know from other people that psych meds can be a tricky thing). He said he'd had a really rough week (I could tell) and that he was suffering some of the bad - like, self-harming ideation - side effects from the meds.

So the favor he wanted was, could he take the test on Monday? He was going to see his doctor this afternoon.

You know, for all the students who tick me off with their "I overslept" or "My cousin's brother's baby momma was in the hospital and he wanted me to go with him to see her" type of excuses I get, once in a while I get one where saying "yes" will make an actual difference to the person, rather than just enabling them to continue in a pattern of irresponsible behavior.

I had not known this guy had been an addict (though he had kind appeared out of nowhere a year or so ago). He got good grades in the previous class of mine he took and he seems to have put his life together (like I said: I would not have guessed at his past from knowing him).

So I told him, yeah, I had done similar things in the past for people with similar issues (and I have). I told him to come in Monday morning and I'd let him take the test then.

His shoulders dropped about four inches. He breathed out. "Thank you." he said "You have no idea how much you have made my day."

I PROBABLY should have told him, "And if you have self-harming thoughts again CALL SOMEONE" but I figure because he's going to the doctor this afternoon it will be addressed.

But, sometimes I don't like to feel like I'm prying, so I just told him he was welcome and that I'd see him Monday.

Stuff like that - especially his response (and the fact that he framed the request as "I know you have the final say and it is your right to say no") makes up for all the people who come in all belligerent because they "deserve" special treatment because they're a Snowflake and they broke a fingernail. Or their favorite show was on last night and they didn't have time to finish the homework. Or they wanted to go fishing instead.


Sheila O'Malley said...

What a really nice story. Sounds like it really really meant a lot to him - in the middle of his crisis - to be heard and seen, and shown some compassion and mercy. That is no small thing. It won't be forgotten by him.

Good for you, ricki.

Cullen said...

How brave of him to come to you like that. It seems like he really has come a long way