I switch rooms between all my classes, so when I get to my third period, my mind is full of how to shift the room quickly, remember what my next lesson is about, and get everyone into practice.
When a student asked me how my break was, I was tempted to just answer briefly about my time with my baby and turn away to keep moving tables and pulling out mats. He responded with an anecdote of his own, sharing that he was looking forward to not having to change his baby sister’s diapers much longer. It helped me pause and remember this was a kid who was used to taking care of others, and here he was reaching out for connection. I took one or two extra minutes to acknowledge and relate before getting back to moving, investing just a moment in that relationship.
It is so difficult to create mental space to get to know each of one’s students. There is so much to hold just in terms of the logistics of a classroom that it can be hard to shift away into an interaction with an individual. We often don’t have time for an in depth conversation. But if we can even just give the fullness of our presence for a moment or two, before excusing ourselves and getting back to preparation or transition, there can be real connection in those moments. Over time, these moments have the potential to become lasting relationships.
May you catch that moment or two today and enjoy that individual conversation with a student or colleague.