Things got started as usual: students walked in, they got ready for the day, etc. One of newer students came in to the classroom and looked particularly sad. I asked how she was doing and she did not immediately admit anything was wrong, but I could tell she was troubled.
My students are working on projects for the end of the semester so I asked them to group together with their partners to get some work done. The troubled student, who I'll call Maria, sat with her partner, who we'll call Jessica. As Maria and Jessica began to work, Maria suddenly broke down in tears with her head dug deep into her arms on her desk. I called Jessica over and asked if everything was okay. "We have both been having some troubles recently," she timidly said. I asked Jessica to take Maria out into the hallway to help her calm down.
Some of the students were curious as to why they went into the hallway, and a couple of them noticed Maria crying, but the lack of information was enough to steer the students back on track. Once I sensed the students were working well on their own, I went to check on Maria and Jessica. They had been in the hallway for about three minutes. Maria had just finished sobbing, but her face was still soaked with tears. I asked calmingly what was wrong and she proceeded to explained that she recently lost a loved one. "She was like a second mother to me," she said trembling. "I'm so sorry to hear about that Maria," I said. "I know what it is like to lose someone close to you. Take your time and when you are ready to rejoin us, come back in the classroom." I looked at Jessica with a nod, indicating that I needed her to be there for her.
I was only in the classroom for another five minutes before Maria and Jessica reentered the classroom. They seemed calm and they began working on their project.
After all of the readings I have done this past semester in my masters and credential courses, I think I handled this situation appropriately, but if you feel I could have done something different, I encourage you to submit a response.