How can I be better at reading the subtext?

It was a great couple days back at school. Too bad -40 windchills mean that school’s cancelled tomorrow! I care a lot about my students, and I’m bummed to have our great momentum interrupted. One student especially is on my mind tonight.

We sat down with one of her peers to work on a reading passage this morning, and she seemed like her usual confident, spunky self. This young girl, a refugee, is among my brightest. Despite a mild speech issue, she participates enthusiastically in both large group and small-group settings. This is why I was so surprised when she asked me if she could have lunch with me. I asked her what made her think of this, and she said that she’s afraid that no one will sit with her. I said, “Is there something that you’d like me to know about?” And she immediately broke down into tears. As her story unfolded, I learned that a couple of girls in her grade have been giving her a hard time, “since we came back to school.” “After winter break?” “No, in August…well really since last year…”

After following procedure to address the situation, I began to ruminate–how could I have worked with this young girl for so long and missed the fact that something was troubling her? How will I, as a parent, be able to read the subtext below my children’s dismissive responses to “how was your day?”

I tend to be a literal person, but it’s time to work on reading between the lines!

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