I was grading papers today in the local Frontiers, that big bookstore chain with cafes, music, and tables for grading. The papers I was grading were the sort that allow students to respond to a text, including gut level responses. Every so often, I get a response that leaves me at a loss. Today was one of those times.
You can guess the sort of issue--spousal abuse, childhood trauma. In this case, the response said that the incident had happened in the past, and that s/he'd only told one other person. But the text was evocative, and so s/he wrote about his/her gut level response, which had to do with his/her previous experience. I read a lot of texts, and it strikes me that if my student has written about the issue now, s/he may be reaching out, recognizing or not that s/he needs some support or help. Or maybe s/he's just ready to be more open and less shamed by the issue.
At times, it stuns me to think how much trust some of our students place in us. I know professors who are total jerks. I can certainly be pretty much a jerk at times. I don't imagine, in this fairly large class, that I've done anything to earn this student's trust. And yet, s/he handed in this response.
I feel like I've been holding my breath all afternoon, since reading that paper.