I once encountered a student upset about something and could tell she wasn’t in the right headspace for class and so did my teacher. My teacher texted a dean at my school to come check in with her and went up to her to ask her if she needed something like a break or some one to check-in with so she would be able to have a productive class. When she came back to the class she was engaged in her work and was participating. Because she was able to go for a walk and talk to a trusted adult, she was able to clear her mind and talk about what was stopping her from learning. This opportunity to reflect on her feelings and to take a break allowed her to understand her feelings and be able to return to class to successfully learn.
Lucille Germain, an 8th grade English teacher at Match Middle, is a perfect example of a teacher who really wants to help when she sees that a student needs help or that they're angry or upset. She goes up to them quietly and doesn't make a scene and she asks them, “are you okay? Do you need to step outside? Do you need a break? Would you like to talk about it?” This support is very helpful towards students because students just need space and distance from others sometimes. After these check-ins, a student who has had their head down comes back into class, gets started on their work and is more productive. Germain also said, “It depends on the student. If it’s a student I have a good relationship with, I ask them if they’re ok right away and if they say no, I check in. But if it’s a student who I’m not too close to, I observe them from afar to see how they’re doing and any changes in their behavior. Then I slip them a note or something telling them I’m here for them. [And] then I tell the rest of the teachers to keep an eye out in case this carries over to their class or in case one of them has a better relationship [with the student].”
Germain raises the point that if a teacher is not close with a student she wouldn't want to make them feel uncomfortable by taking them aside or talking to them out of class. This awareness is important because you never know if they’re going through something personal and students might not trust that teacher to talk to. If a student doesn’t feel comfortable opening up, then nothing would really get solved and the class will not be productive.
Carlis Martinez, a Boston Public School 7th grader at the Haley Pilot Middle in Roslindale, noticed how her school handled students who were upset in class. She said, “Usually when I’m mad or upset and can’t focus in class they send me to the counselor’s office so I can relax. Sometimes they would just switch my class.” This kind of support in a BPS school allows Martinez and other students to help them get an education and stay focused in class.
Marielis Mejia, an 8th grader at Match Middle, talked about her experience with support at her school. I asked Mejia if she ever talked to an expert when she was upset at school and what teachers did for her. She said, “They just sit me down and talk about what's going on then they give their input on what I should do to make the situation better.” This interaction shows that the school talked to her and helped her face the problem and so she could focus on more important things.
As teachers and students can agree, students can get help at school. Boston Public Schools in particular helps students because of the methods they have at school that support their learning. BPS is helping students feel more comfortable at school and not feel stressed or overwhelmed. On the BPS website the county says, “Today, we are providing our students with more stability and continuity, new opportunities for inclusion, and higher-quality programs that are aligned with district efforts to help all our students reach a high standard.” They want students to succeed even through times like this.
Additionally, to help support students, BPS has, “30.7% [of students] are educated in substantially separate classrooms (spend 60% or more of the school day outside of the general education classroom).” This shows that Boston Public Schools are trying to help give students the extra support that they need.
Student supports are important because it can help students have a better education in the future. If a student feels supported and comfortable, not only will they be able to figure out how to learn but they’ll find confidence that will help them overcome more challenges.