First thing this morning, I got an email from a parent to inform that the uncle of one of my students had died over the night and that their son may be distracted today. It went on to say that this uncle was very close with the student and he was quite upset. While I read it, I felt bad for him and the family and replied with my condolensces and a promise to keep an eye on him and to let his other teachers know.
This student came into my room for the first time this hour. His eyes were a little wet and he was sniffling. He had two pictures printed on computer paper that he was staring at with his chin resting on his arms. I could tell he was barely holding back the tears. I quietly called him into the hall. I told him that his parents had let me know what happened and that I would do anything I could to help him. He shook his head and the tears started flowing down his cheeks. I put my arm around his shoulders and told him that we all understood and were here if he needed us. I did tell him that I understood that he wanted to have the pictures of his uncle out so he could look at them, but it might make it easier to make it through the day if he put them in his binder.
In those few moments, my heart was breaking for this boy. I have rarely cried in front of students, but this was more than I could stop. I could hear my voice cracking and my eyes filling. I have given him some work to distract him and he is doing well. I wish there was more.