He’d surpassed his frustration level. I was working with another group when I glanced over and noticed his head in his hands. He was desperately trying to cover his red face and the tears streaming down his cheeks. We only had a few minutes left in class, and he had been diligently working to map out his group’s reading plan for the next few weeks.
I’d provided a sample plan. We had twice discussed how he could pattern his group’s plan after the sample I’d given them. And yet, he was still confused and couldn’t seem to make it work. His partners weren’t helping much. He had enthusiastically taken the lead on developing the plan, and they had let him do it. Why wouldn’t they? He’s a hard-working student–an extremely “high flyer” in a room full of soaring stars. Having him in their group all but insures they will all do well. However, at this point he’d reached his limit. He couldn’t figure it out and was certainly not going to finish it before the class ended. Crushed and falling apart, he slumped in his seat.
I quickly made my way over to him and threw my arm around him. “Let’s take a walk together,” I stated as I instructed the class to tidy the room before leaving.
When we reached the small office next door, I said, “Talk to me. What’s wrong?”
“I can’t figure it out. I tried and tried, but it doesn’t make sense, and they were counting on me. . . and not really helping,” he admitted.
“Okay,” I said. “Don’t worry about the plan. I’ll be happy to help with it. It is really confusing the first time you do it, and I’m sure the example could have been clearer. We will figure it out, okay?”
“Okay.” He relaxed and immediately appeared relieved.
“Can I ask you something though?”
“Did you get the other guys’ attention, tell them you were having trouble, and ask them to help you figure it out?”
“Aren’t they part of your group, too?”
“Isn’t that what partners are for–to help us learn?”
“I guess so,” he reluctantly admitted.
“You have so much to offer your group. You work hard in class and strive to think deeply about our books. And I also appreciate that you want to lead your group, but leading isn’t always doing it yourself, right? Leading is inviting other people to help carry out a task and helping them do their best, too, right?”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“You know asking for help is okay, right?”
“Well. . . I guess so.” He bowed his head as if ashamed to admit he might need help occasionally.
“I know how you feel. It’s a lesson I’m still trying to learn, too.”