Once had a student that was very quiet, sat in back, shy to interact with others. Seemed nice, but still hadn’t really conversed or known much about her.
Almost a month into the course, she walked in late one morning, so I called on her to present next and she snapped back a little, saying she didn’t do it and didn’t want to do it because it and the course didn’t matter, grabbed her bag and left.
Three hours later I sat in my office for scheduled hours, and felt someone had walked up to my door behind me. When I turned around, it was the same student, red cheeks, with a mouth half curled and ready to actually speak to me for the first time that semester.
Before she spoke up, I simply said “It’s okay, you were just having a bad day. Come back next week with good work and you’ll still get credit.” She was visibly confused, and left silently. The rest of the semester, she worked hard and asked questions.
After thanksgiving, she came into office hours and opened with “He went into the hospital two nights before that project. They weren’t sure what was wrong with him, and if he would live. My dad died this past weekend. After you gave me a second chance, I gave him a second chance, and we got close before he passed. I feel like our bad relationship was because of him, but maybe it was always because of me.” You can play catch with someone, and when they throw the ball off target, it’s easy to blame them for the throw. Or maybe they throw on target and you don’t catch it. It’s easy to always blame the other. Maybe in actuality, you both just suck at playing catch but are too self absorbed to see it that way.
The point is though, that you’re lucky enough to be playing catch, or drop. You’re lucky enough to give grace too when in the position to do so. You’re lucky enough to have opportunity to change anything, your life or another’s. If you didn’t when you had the chance, it’s okay, you just might need to dig through the bushes a little longer to find the ball you didn’t reach out far enough to catch.