Opinion
Teaching Profession Opinion

Tiny Teaching Stories: ‘Those Three Keep Haunting Me’

November 06, 2019 2 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Powerful Moments of Your Lives, Distilled

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.

BRIC ARCHIVE

‘Those Three Keep Haunting Me’

BRIC ARCHIVE

Three. That’s the number of students I couldn’t reach in my seven years teaching. It’s hard to admit. Brandon my first year, Sergio and Gregory my fourth. All expelled. I’ve had more than 1,000 students. Many come back or write, yet those three keep haunting me. Not because they were difficult, but because they remind me that my work is never done.

I rack my brain for what I could have done differently. It motivates me to keep teaching, to keep hoping that I will meet another Brandon, Sergio, or Gregory and make a different connection, create a different outcome.

Shawta Singh-Luth
8th grade U.S. history
Garden Grove, Calif.

‘What We Do Matters’

BRIC ARCHIVE

Recently heard from a former student, now a junior in college, who took three years of Mandarin with me. While doing a summer internship in Shanghai he wrote to thank me—not so much for teaching him the language, but for the stories I shared about my own experiences abroad. He wrote that they encouraged him to go outside his known comfort zone and to explore with courage a culture beyond his own. It was not my intention, but a fruitful result.

What we do matters!

John Mahon
High school Mandarin and English as a Second Language
La Verne, Calif.

‘A Chorus of Groans’

BRIC ARCHIVE

It’s summer. It’s hot. And we’re at school. When it’s time for writing, I get a chorus of groans from my 4th graders.

I let them write whatever they choose: a graphic novel, a poem, fiction, a memoir. As they write, I stop by desks, confer one-on-one. Midway through, I notice a change. Every head is bowed over the page, every pencil scribbles ideas.

When it’s time to finish, I’m met by a new chorus: one of moans—kids not wanting to stop yet. It took one session to share the power of writing. I hope they never forget it.

Emily Galle-From
K-5 instructional coach
North St. Paul, Minn.

‘Dude! You’re a Robot!’

BRIC ARCHIVE

Twenty minutes until spring break, and a student from my advisory period was raging in the hallway. I got him settled and talking. He was angry; his friend had been wronged. I wanted to affirm his feelings. I meant to say, “Of course. You’re not a robot. You’re a human.” Instead I blurted, “You’re a robot!” by mistake. His eyes got wide and he froze. Then we both cracked up.

Now whenever either of us wants to cut to the heart of a discussion, all we have to say is, “Dude! You’re a robot!” With a half-smile, we’re there.

Bryan Finnegan
High school science
New York

‘Aiden Wrote Their Work on the Board’

BRIC ARCHIVE

One morning mid-February ... an email from a fellow teacher: “Aiden uses they/them pronouns. They recently came out to me as non-binary. Please use these pronouns when referring to them.”

I’m happy to call students what they want, but switching five months into the year is going to be tough. What will the other students think? What happens if I make a mistake?

In class that day: “Students, give your silent attention up front. Aiden wrote her work on the … sorry, Aiden wrote their work on the board. Please explain what you did.”

Aiden smiles and explains beautifully.

John McCrann
High school math
New York

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:

Events

Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Social-Emotional Learning: Making It Meaningful
Join us for this event with educators and experts on the damage the pandemic did to academic and social and emotional well-being.
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
Privacy & Security Webinar
K-12 Cybersecurity in the Real World: Lessons Learned & How to Protect Your School
Gain an expert understanding of how school districts can improve their cyber resilience and get ahead of cybersecurity challenges and threats.
Content provided by Microsoft
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
Trauma-Informed Schools 101: Best Practices & Key Benefits
Learn how to develop a coordinated plan of action for addressing student trauma and
fostering supportive, healthy environments.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession The Cryptocurrency Collapse Spells Trouble For Teacher Pensions. Here's How
A pension fund expert explains how the FTX collapse could affect educators and school systems.
4 min read
Image of digital currency transaction.
dem10/E+
Teaching Profession Opinion 11 Critical Issues Facing Educators in 2023
From health and safety to labor shortages, the coming year is rife with challenges for school leaders and teachers.
5 min read
shutterstock 513761242
Shutterstock
Teaching Profession 'Gaslighting' Is the Word of the Year. Did It Haunt Schools, Too?
The Merriam-Webster word of the year often intersected with schools and teachers in 2022.
3 min read
The highlighted word "Gaslighting" and showing part of its definition to include the word "manipulation" on a computer screen.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Teaching Profession It's a Nasty Cold and Flu Season, But Some Educators Are Reluctant to Take Sick Days
Many cite the pile of work—and lost learning—that accumulates when they take time off.
6 min read
Sick woman holding tissues and drinking from a mug while working
iStock/Getty Images Plus