In my culinary psych class last week, we talked about…er, bread baking. I talked about the different types of bread baking, and got students to pick one that most resonated with their experiences. As it turns out, one of my students identified with one of the worst types of bread (and another student identified as the other). I tried my best not to single them out, but some of the culinary terms (if you will) for this particular type of bread imply certain things that are just rather un-good.
Fast forward to today. The same student asks to come talk to me, in private. Apparently, the student dealt with a lot of awful bread in life, and it was upsetting. As it turns out, I have dealt with much of the very same type of bread. It made for a rather emotional conversation for the both of us, and I felt so terrible having caused so much pain on the student’s part through my in-class activity. I am pretty sure we parted ways on good terms, but it bothers me so intensely that my students could very well be harboring pains that make some aspects of life so difficult. I also feel so terrible for knowing that I not only made the student feel so alone in the moment, in a very public setting, particularly when I understand it so well.
This incident was such a powerful reminder that anything I say or do can have such a strong influence on a student. I will speak and act with much more care from here on out.