Walking to my room with my morning coffee in hand, I glanced up to see a colleague and a student standing at my door. A young lady in tears standing beside her. I thought to myself, The morning bell just rung. What happened? My colleague desperately asked if I had a free moment to chat with this distraught young lady. I quickly replied, “Of course”.
Together the young lady and I entered my room. Jazz was softly playing in the background, my small desk waterfall was running, and light shone from the lamps. The young lady sat down and let her feelings poor out.
It was about homework. She couldn’t complete it all. She doesn’t have a computer at home, which one of the assignments required. She did NOT want to come to school this morning. She did NOT want to get in trouble again. But she was here and she was in tears.
As I consoled her by sharing a similar time in my childhood and explaining that we will chat about this with her teacher, I couldn’t help but think about empathy. Empathy, the ability to understand and share feelings of another. Do we empathize enough with our students? Do we empathize with our students when we assign homework? Is what we hope students will gain from homework worth the feelings they create?
I don’t have the answers. Instead, I was left with a question. Is it worth it?