Confession of the day: I talk to strangers. If you know me, this is probably ridiculously obvious. I blame it on my mother (and partially my father; don’t think you got out of this one, dad!). She’s the kind of person who talks to you in the grocery store, the convenience store, and the gynecologist office (yeah – I said it). I don’t consider it a bad thing; in fact, most times I’m enthralled that she has this sort of super power. Either way, so, I talk to strangers.
This quote is from a student that I passed in a hallway on Friday. I should probably tell you that I don’t know this student. We do, however, have something in common: we talk to strangers. We were walking in opposite directions and preparing to pass eachother. He said, “Hi! How are you?” and I answered with the usual, “Fantastic, how about yourself?”
He answered with “I’m also fantastic! You know, no one asks me that back? Thank you so much for asking.” Taken aback, I responded with “No problem, I hope your day continues to be fantastic.” And we both went on our way.
And then I thought to myself, “Crap!? How many people a day ask me that and I don’t respond?” Or more importantly, my next thought: “How many times do I ask my students that question and then don’t really wait for a response?” There are plenty of days that it is obvious that a student is having a bad day. In that case, I’ll usually make sure they are okay, make a joke, and we work on the problem. But how often do I ask kids who are not in an emotional crisis?
Also, why did I forget about this exchange until I sat down to write this slice of life post? Why does it seem that I need a to-do list line for everything I need to remember to do? So I’ve made a daily challenge to myself this week to ask (and actually listen) that question to a student who is not normally forthcoming with their emotions. I hope I remember. I hope it matters. It mattered to at least one student.