Opinion
Teaching Profession Opinion

Tiny Teaching Stories: ‘For Good Instead of Mischief’

October 11, 2019 3 min read
tiny teaching 600 headerv1 Getty and Laura Baker Education Week

We asked teachers to share their triumphs and frustrations, the hilarious or absurd moments from their lives, in no more than 100 words.

For more Tiny Teaching Stories, click here.

To submit your own story, click here.

tiny teaching installment1 600 article Getty and Laura Baker Education Week

‘For Good Instead of Mischief’

Stephen couldn’t sit in his desk without fidgeting, playing with his little Tech Deck fingerboard constantly, driving me mad. The kid with so much potential, if only he could harness that energy for good instead of mischief. One day in his freshman year, we made a deal. He wrote a contract saying, “I, Stephen, will do my work in class for the rest of the year.” We both signed it.

His senior year, he returned to my classroom almost unrecognizable. He handed me a rainbow fiber optic sphere he had made and said, “I’m sorry I gave you such a hard time. Thank you for believing in me.” I keep that sphere as a reminder of why I teach.

Rana El Yousef
High school chemistry
Glendora, Calif.

‘What If We Can Fly?’

Torres pic sized

I am so tired. I lay my hands on the faux-wood desk, hazy light filtering into the humid room. My 7th graders are buzzing, wide smiles. I’ve gifted all of us some time for them to work on projects.

Walking the room, I’m concerned they will “just talk” instead of “work.” A table of three is mid-conversation.

“What if we can fly, but we don’t know it?”

“What if we can fly, but our wings haven’t grown?”

I smile.

The third: “What if our farts are supposed to help us fly?!”

We all break into silly laughter. Joyful, important work.

Christina Torres
8th grade, English
Honolulu

‘I Wanted to Tell Them My Secret All Year’

Tiny Teacher Stories headshot

I wanted to tell them my secret all year, but never found the right moment. These students looked up to me. What if they were disappointed once I told them it had only been my first year teaching?

My thoughts were interrupted as 11 smiling faces popped into our classroom holding a white poster that boasted our colorful caricatures. They presented me with this priceless handmade gift. Every student signed it and wrote me a personal note. We shared laughs and tears together one last time. My first year of teaching was complete and I didn’t want it to end.

Allessia Quintana
11th and 12th grades, special education social studies
New York City

‘This Is Where He Needed to Be’

Tiny Teacher Stories Upegui headshot

Almost everyone was there, and it felt like a victory to me. It was February break, and we had to finish biotech labs. When he walked in, I learned that his mother had passed away a few days before. I couldn’t comprehend why he would choose to be in school during this difficult time.

I spoke to him. He said that this is where he needed to be: His mother valued education as a tool for empowerment and his classmates made him feel powerful. Four months later, he graduated with honors and I understood why he’d come to that winter meeting.

David Upegui
11th and 12th grades, biology and human anatomy
Central Falls, R.I.

‘A Handstand!’

Eiseinger pic sized

The scene: snack time, first day of school, and me, a first-year teacher, gravitating between feeling lucky to have landed a job and terrified of messing it all up. Eighteen 5th graders chatter. I flit between tables. I turn, and what do I see? A student doing a handstand in the middle of the room. A handstand!

Students stare: first at him, then at me, wondering how I’ll respond. That day, I choose to laugh. As students join in, all is right in the world of our classroom. The lesson: Given a “teachable moment,” respond with love first, guidance second.

Lauren Eisinger
5th grade, special education co-teacher
Naples, N.Y.

About This Project

Teachers’ lives are packed with powerful moments: moments of triumph, frustration, absurdity, joy, revelation, and hilarity. We want to hear about them. Submit your Tiny Teaching Story, in no more than 100 words, here.

Related Tags:

Edited by Catherine Gewertz

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and wellbeing during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Building Leadership Excellence Through Instructional Coaching
Join this webinar for a discussion on instructional coaching and ways you can link your implement or build on your program.
Content provided by Whetstone Education/SchoolMint
Teaching Webinar Tips for Better Hybrid Learning: Ask the Experts What Works
Register and ask your questions about hybrid learning to our expert panel.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

CCLC Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
CCLC Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Marketing Coordinator
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Sr Project Manager, Marketing (Temporary)
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association

Read Next

Teaching Profession Teachers Are Stressed Out, and It's Causing Some to Quit
Stress, more so than low pay, is the main reason public school teachers quit. And COVID-19 has increased the pressure.
7 min read
Image of exit doors.
pavel_balanenko/iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion Should Teachers Be Prioritized for the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Not all states are moving teachers to the front of the vaccination line. Researchers discuss the implications for in-person learning.
6 min read
Teacher Lizbeth Osuna from Cooper Elementary receives the Moderna vaccine at a CPS vaccination site at Roberto Clemente High School in Chicago, Ill., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.
Chicago public school teacher Lizbeth Osuna receives the COVID-19 vaccine at a school vaccination site last week.
Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times via AP
Teaching Profession Chicago Teachers Approve School Reopening Plan: ‘We Got What We Were Able to Take’
Chicago Teachers Union members have voted in favor of a reopening deal, signaling that in-person classes can resume Thursday as planned.
Hannah Leone & Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas
4 min read
Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson speaks during a news conference at City Hall in Chicago on Feb. 7, 2021. The Chicago Teachers Union has approved a deal with the nation’s third-largest school district to get students back to class during the coronavirus pandemic, union officials announced early Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson speaks during a news conference at City Hall in Chicago on Feb. 7. The Chicago Teachers Union has approved a deal with the nation’s third-largest school district to get students back to class during the coronavirus pandemic.
Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune via AP
Teaching Profession 1 in 5 Educators Have Been Vaccinated, NEA Survey Finds
About one-fifth of teachers in the nation's largest teachers' union have had a COVID-19 vaccine; another 18 percent have scheduled a shot.
3 min read
Penny Cracas, right, with the Chester County, Pa., Health Department, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Dando, a school nurse, late last year in  West Chester, Pa.
Penny Cracas, right, with the Chester County, Pa., Health Department, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Dando, a school nurse, late last year in West Chester, Pa.
Matt Slocum/AP