One time, several years ago, the counselor came to get a student from my class, and when she returned I went over to her with concern. "Is everything all right?" I asked.
She shook her head. "I'm being bullied," she confided.
"Oh no," I said. "Who's doing that to you?" She whispered the name of another student. "When is it happening?" I asked with concern.
"In your class," she told me.
You could have knocked me over, so stunned was I. The two of them sat in the front of the room, about three feet from where I stood most of the time while teaching.
Teachers like to think that we know what's going on in our classrooms, but over the years I've learned that as much as we catch, we miss a lot, too, probably more, and so the best we can do is create an environment where the students feel safe to tell us when something goes wrong.
And as for missing things? I've come to expect it, so much so that I was barely surprised at all this afternoon when I discovered a toy soldier in my classroom. Armed and guarding a paper rocket, he was stationed in the corner of the room right below the flag and next to a sign reading Don't Touch! Bryan's Top Secret Missile Base. How long it's been there I have no idea, but Bryan is in 8th grade now.