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NicoleAJ

Need To Vent About A Situation With A Student

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In the spring semester my star student stopped coming to class and turning in assignments. I contacted her to see if she was ok, and she came into the office to speak with me about her performance in the class. We, as university instructors, are not supposed to speak to students about their personal lives in almost any capacity--because of issues of legal liability. Nevertheless, this student, embarassed about her performance, knowing that I had reached out to her, told me that she had suffered a particularly horrendous trauma. It was crushing for me to hear her story, and I did not, by any means, press her to tell me anything about her personal life. At first, I gave her the standard line about the need to seek psychological counseling, which could be provided through the university (i.e. what we are told to say in these situations). Nevertheless, being a human being, I simply could not help but try my best to comfort her and encourage her--I looked at her and saw myself as a junior in college and just thought about what I'd want to hear from someone who was willing to listen.

Eventually, she could not hold it together enough to attend class at all, and I offered to defer her grade, giving her the maximum amount of time to make up the work she'd missed (something that I've only done on one other occasion). Though she didn't complete two minor assignments, she produced "A" work on the final project and she handed it in to me on the last possible day (yesterday). She also thanked me, via email, for being understanding and said that she was seeking treatment but that it wasn't working, so she was just going to try to push through the rest of college before seeking more in-depth treatment options. In response, I was as encouraging as possible, and I told her to feel free to contact me in the future.

I understand why universities have these rules in place--personnel completely untrained in counseling should not be trying to diagnose/advise students in crisis--they need professionals for that. At the same time, it just breaks my heart to see this excellent student with so much potential suffering in this way. I know from previous conversations that she comes from the inner city and is supporting herself through college both financially and emotionally. I guess I just feel powerless in this situation. If any of you pray, "Sarah" could sure use some divine assistance right now.


Diagnosed July 2004

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Wow! That's a really difficult one! I can understand the legal implications of going over the line, but the human side of you can't help but reach out to someone who so desperately needs it. If you didn't have that urge, then I would worry!

When I think back at my school days, there is one teacher in particular who literally changed my life (I had him for Grade 7 and for Grade 8). Under his guidance, I went from a terribly shy, insecure, low self-esteem child to a person who finally felt pride in myself and my accomplishments. The way he taught me to look at life literally changed my life. I would be afraid to think of the type of person I would be today if he had not entered into my life at such a critical time.

That being said, you also have to make sure you cover yourself. I guess what I am trying to say is be that shoulder to cry on (like that of a friend) that she so desperately needs, but don't cross over the line by offering anything more than "I will help you to seek counselling".......

I will say a prayer for her tonight........

Hugs.

Karen


Karen

positive bloodwork, positive biopsy

Celiac, collagenous colitis, hypothyroidism

endometriosis (at age 20)

spinal stenosis (early 20's)

Biopsy August 2006 confirmed complete villous atrophy despite being gluten-free for years and bloodwork within range showing compliance with diet. Doctor has confirmed diagnosis of Refractory Celiac Sprue.

Endoscopy also showed numerous stomach ulcers, have started taking Losec.

Mother to Eileen 13 yrs

Rhiannon 8 yrs

Daniel & Connor 6 yr twin boys......

"Joyfulness keeps the heart and face young. A good laugh makes us better friends with ourselves and everybody around us."

Orison Swett Marden

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.

-- Victor Borge

"An optimist laughs to forget. A pessimist forgets to laugh."

Tom Nansbury

"Doctor to patient: I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you are not a hypochondriac."

Unknown

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I will also say a prayer for her.


"Throw yourself a pity-party and you'll be the only guest." - Earlene Fowler

Diag. Celiac Disease by positive blood test 2/03/2004

Allergies - corn, soy, casein, egg whites and wheat

Morphia Scleroderma

Osteoarthritis

Hypothyroid and Hperthyroid

Essential Tremors

Asthma

Migraines

Fibromyalgia - diag. in 1978 when they called it Fibrositis

PAD Peripheral Artery Disease

Angina and Atrial Fibrillation

Gluten Ataxia

Vitiligo

Scoliosis of the spine (caused by malabsorption and it is horribly painful) This would be enough reason for someone to go gluten free.

Ocular Myastenia Gravis

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In the spring semester my star student stopped coming to class and turning in assignments. I contacted her to see if she was ok, and she came into the office to speak with me about her performance in the class. We, as university instructors, are not supposed to speak to students about their personal lives in almost any capacity--because of issues of legal liability. Nevertheless, this student, embarassed about her performance, knowing that I had reached out to her, told me that she had suffered a particularly horrendous trauma. It was crushing for me to hear her story, and I did not, by any means, press her to tell me anything about her personal life. At first, I gave her the standard line about the need to seek psychological counseling, which could be provided through the university (i.e. what we are told to say in these situations). Nevertheless, being a human being, I simply could not help but try my best to comfort her and encourage her--I looked at her and saw myself as a junior in college and just thought about what I'd want to hear from someone who was willing to listen.

Eventually, she could not hold it together enough to attend class at all, and I offered to defer her grade, giving her the maximum amount of time to make up the work she'd missed (something that I've only done on one other occasion). Though she didn't complete two minor assignments, she produced "A" work on the final project and she handed it in to me on the last possible day (yesterday). She also thanked me, via email, for being understanding and said that she was seeking treatment but that it wasn't working, so she was just going to try to push through the rest of college before seeking more in-depth treatment options. In response, I was as encouraging as possible, and I told her to feel free to contact me in the future.

I understand why universities have these rules in place--personnel completely untrained in counseling should not be trying to diagnose/advise students in crisis--they need professionals for that. At the same time, it just breaks my heart to see this excellent student with so much potential suffering in this way. I know from previous conversations that she comes from the inner city and is supporting herself through college both financially and emotionally. I guess I just feel powerless in this situation. If any of you pray, "Sarah" could sure use some divine assistance right now.

Sometimes you have to do what you do, and sometimes you need to follow your gut instincts. I have one just graduated in the 7 year plan , with adhd issues, (due to class exemtions with dx) and one still going. If you have a student that follows your heart, please follow through. You will never regret it.


Lisa

Gluten Free - August 15, 2004

"Not all who wander are lost" - JRR Tolkien

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Thanks for all of the kind words. I know this student feels really isolated right now, so the prayers are much needed. I've definitely given this student more attention and more "breaks" in terms of the work that I've asked her to do, but she genuinely deserves it.

Karen, I also had an instructor who changed my life very early on. None of my teachers ever knew I could speak before I got a perfect score on the California achievement test. The teacher running the gifted program literally came to my house and had coffee with my mother when my mom refused to answer letters inviting me to the program. I went from a shy, introverted person who wouldn't speak in front of others to a confident student, happy to present my ideas publicly--in a lot of ways, I became a teacher because this person was able to bring this side out in me, and I'd like to help other students in return. My mom was so moved by this woman's influence on my life that she actually went to work for her on this gifted program.

The unfortunate thing is that this student is someone who had realized her potential, but then it all fell apart because of something that happened to her. I truly hope she can overcome this--I've told her that I'm confident that she will, but it would be so easy for her to fall into the patterns of her home environment.


Diagnosed July 2004

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Nicole,

I will add your student to my prayer list.

On behalf of all of us out there whose lives have been touched by a caring teacher/professor/instructor, etc....Thank you. She will forever be grateful to you. Reading your post brought tears to my eyes.

Laura

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Nicole,

You are one in a million. Too many people would have looked the other way. I think that's wrong with this world today in a lot of cases. People are afraid to lend a helping hand in a time of need. You are doing a good thing by helping this girl. If we could put ourselves in your student's shoes and imagine being her age and going through something so hard emotionally and possible life changing and for all we know not having someone close that could help her through this hard time. What a burden she has!

I think she will one day see the help you provided. Maybe not tomorrow, or the next day, or even months ahead but one day. Just keep doing your job the way you see right. I hope one day I have a daughter or son that have a teacher with a heart like yours!

Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

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Thanks so much Laura. You certainly know what it's like to be a student at a big school like this where you can find great friends, but if you're going through a difficult situation, you can also feel really lost.

Also, thank you smilemaker. It's great to hear encouragement because I feel anxious about following professional standards in extreme cases like this. I figure that I'll never regret following my heart, but then I second-guess myself as well, so I appreciated your comment.


Diagnosed July 2004

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