One day a student came in and immediately put his head down and didn't want to do any work. So I asked him what was going on. When he looked up at me, he had these bloodshot eyes. When we spoke further in confidence, he told me he had been awake all night because he was homeless and was scared of going to sleep in case he was attacked. It had been two days since he had a place to sleep. It came out that he had no family in New Orleans. He had been sent by family members to meet someone in New Orleans who no longer wanted him to stay with them anymore. He was 18, undocumented and going to school full time, all while trying to find a job and an apartment.
At the time I was his English Learners (EL) teacher, so I'd been working with him on a daily basis. I was able to get him some resources for homeless youth and came upon Covenant House through our incredible school social worker, who let me know that youth didn't need their social security numbers in order to get housing there. That is not the norm. Often you have to have documentation to get resources. That afternoon I drove him to Covenant House and translated the information he wanted to provide. He stayed there for a few months while continuing to come to school. I was really thankful that I worked at a school where people wanted to find resources for undocumented youth - people who were compassionate. Unfortunately I've had conversations with other people who don't want to help undocumented youth or don't believe that they deserve the services that our country has to offer.
Teaching the whole child is extremely important. Being able to recognize when a student has needs beyond their academic needs allows us to educate successfully. So when this student wasn't able to receive his education, by stepping in we were able to address his psychological and economic needs. I was really glad that I was able to ask him a question instead of giving him a consequence.