Right at the start of class last night, one of my students asked to speak with me, I asked her if it would be okay if we waited until the break; she agreed - I am glad, you'll see why in a minute.
At break time, she said that she wanted to apologize for missing some assignments, that it was a result of a recent eviction that left her homeless. She went on with sad detail after sad detail, and I had to keep it together and be as rational while being as supportive as I can. Finding the right balance of how to react to being told this very personal stuff is very challenging. Sadder, having had enough years in this game to know, there's also the daunting task of trying to determine if the student is actually being truthful.
I know, most would think, who would lie about something like that? Sadly, it happens more than you would want to believe.
All I can really do is say that I am sorry and offer the most reasonable, generic advice I can. What compounded this was just two weeks earlier, another of my students had mentioned to me that his work was slacking for a similar reason.
I am glad I only had to carry the burden of that thought through half the class instead of the entire 3+ hours. I feel like that sounds selfish of me but I don't mean it that way, it's really hard to think that when I was driving to my house with food and heat that this student may not have had anywhere to go - that's is too freaking sad.