This is very timely for me! This semester I have had several students in tears repeatedly. For very good reasons, but tears nonetheless. I’m their TA, not their friend, but I do care about my students as people. I want to be supportive and compassionate, but I do not want to take on the emotional burden of strangers’ tears. I want to keep my emotional energy for those I care about– my close friends and family. Lots of good thoughts here, and the comments are definitely worth reading!
One of the things that I’ve found I’m completely unprepared for as a new teacher and academic advisor is the level of emotion the students bring with them to talk with me. I’m just not a public crier, so it always startles me when someone lets the waterworks go during what seems to me to be a relatively benign conversation. Not that I never empty a box of Kleenex while watching a tearjerker with a group of friends, or think that crying in front of others makes you weak – it’s just not me. This has left me at a loss for what to do when someone breaks down in my office. Politely ignore? Offer Kleenex? Ask details? I should have paid better attention when friends talked about their experiences being the crier or the cryee!
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