Apart from being an educational role model or someone you look up to, teachers are the ones who recognize the feelings of their students.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 13, 2023. It has since been updated.
"Your heart is slightly larger than the average human heart, but that's because you're a teacher." This quote by Aaron Bacall quite beautifully defines our teachers, who tirelessly work to ensure their students receive the best education. This education doesn't just involve academic pursuits and what is written in a textbook. It also includes teaching young minds valuable lessons of empathy and kindness.
Apart from being an educational role model or someone you look up to, teachers are the ones who recognize the feelings of their students and help them navigate difficult situations. For instance, when one loses a loved one, they find themselves in an emotionally vulnerable state that requires care and compassion.
During this time, one would not have the headspace to be lectured at for taking time away from work or school. These situations summon compassion and humanity from your peers, teachers, managers, or co-workers. However, that is not often the case as reality sometimes tends to be ugly and ruthless. But one professor has decided to change this repetitive cycle of unkindness by offering their student a very gentle and safe space.
In a wholesome post on the r/MadeMeSmile subreddit, a student applauds her professor's inspiring compassion following her sister's death. "My sister died yesterday, and I cannot explain how much I appreciate my English professor's compassion right now," the student wrote.
The passing of a loved one is considered one of the most painful experiences ever, and the grace with which this professor conversed with their student speaks volumes of how crucial it is for humans to be empathetic and compassionate.
"Alyssa, I don't know what to write. I have two sisters, and... anyway, take all the time you need. No documentation is needed," the professor wrote in an email. They added that Alyssa would not need to promise not to take another extension. "I'm giving you blanket flexibility in advance. You've already done good work so far, and my goal is for you to get something positive out of the class, and after what's just happened, if you participate to the extent possible, I'll make that work," the email added.
Many Reddit users who shared their experiences in the comments section said this touching moment between the professor and the student resonated with them. "Teaching is not always about lessons but sometimes it’s about growth," said u/Kindly-Mud-1579. u/MistukoSan responded, "I’d say the most important part of teaching is growth. Teachers are an example and that’s exactly why many teachers have inspired millions around the globe. I still remember my 7th-grade teacher Mrs.Gale who never counted me out while all of the others had, she stuck by me and I won’t ever forget it. Thank you, Mrs. Gale."
Exceptional teachers like this professor help students develop empathy, making them tap into the nurturing instinct, caring for others and learning to trust those around them. "An English professor saying they don’t know what to write speaks volumes," wrote u/uptonogood119. "I mean yes obviously we need more teachers like this but I would extend that to leadership as a whole. Bosses, teachers, politicians anything where you have authority over others is made better if you have compassion. Doesn’t mean you have to be weak or over permissive, compassion can always be provided," added u/lemongrenade. "It shows real humility- something I don’t see a whole lot of with other professors," said u/Adventurous-Age6490.