Teaching Profession

The Funny, Inspirational, and Weird: Educators Share Highlights From This School Year

By Caitlyn Meisner — June 07, 2023 3 min read
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Between potato parades for St. Patrick’s Day, weekly flash-mob dances, and high school senior “presidential campaigns,” the 2022-23 school year has provided its share of laughter and heartwarming stories for educators from across the nation.

An EdWeek Research Center survey conducted from March to April asked educators to share some of their funny, unusual, or interesting stories from the school year. Responses ranged from humorous stories of children bringing pets to school, heartwarming stories of students appreciating their teachers, and reflections on noticeable progress in both the classroom and school district.

Many of the educators said they couldn’t pick just one instance to describe in the survey. Every day has something funny since each day is different when interacting with students.

“Kids say the darnedest things,” a principal from Florida said. “I am laughing daily because of them!”

Survey respondents shared this sentiment and provided stories of children asking random questions or making interesting comments. This includes an elementary school physical education teacher from Texas who said one of her students said he broke his “skeleton.” An elementary school principal from Illinois said a student approached him at dismissal and asked how his blood pressure was.

‘Secret’ spirit days and traffic cones

There were also several stories of staff members joining together on spirit days or dressing up in costumes to have fun during the school day. A high school principal in Virginia said the staff held secret spirit days—a day where the staff coordinated a theme for their outfits and surprised the kids—while a middle school principal in Florida said her teachers dressed up as traffic cones during parent pick-up.

The survey also included uplifting stories of teacher collaboration, student appreciation, and community-building after the pandemic.

One came from an elementary school principal in Louisiana, who said a student came to school dressed exactly like them during a “Dress Like Your Future Self Day.” A Pennsylvania high school history teacher said a former student requested to student teach in her classroom.

A district superintendent in Idaho reported feeling touched to discover that more than 100 teacher applications had been received to staff the new middle school being built.

“I was very worried about the quality and quantity of applicants I would be choosing from,” the superintendent wrote. “I will need 12 new teachers. ... I have received over 100 applications and more continue to come.”

Several teachers described an increased interest from students in learning this year, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am even more excited and focus on impacting student learning and developing professionals in a significant way,” a formerly retired high school principal from Texas said.

What’s old is new again

Similarly, a foreign language middle school teacher in New York said her school held a pep rally in the fall for the students.

“They were so involved, engaged, and amazed,” the New York teacher said. “I realized that they were in elementary school during COVID, so a pep rally and getting together as a whole school is completely novel to them. It was so cool to see them react.”

An elementary art teacher in Tennessee said this year, they took a new approach to the curriculum to keep students more engaged.

“I have taught the curriculum solely based on student choice,” the Tennessee teacher said. “It has shown me my students’ creativity [and] interest.”

Some schools reported having seen across-the-board progress in their districts this year. A high school math teacher in Florida said it was an “incredible year” for athletics, while a district superintendent from Nebraska said 16 percent of seniors there are graduating with their associate’s degree in addition to their high school diploma.

Many said their schools and districts have made improvements, including piloting schedule changes, adding new programs, starting a junior honors society, and receiving science, technology, engineering, and math grants throughout the year.

Despite the widespread violence, politics, and illnesses that have hit schools in recent years, some respondents said they still draw inspiration from students.

“Kids continue to work together to accomplish a task, just as they did 25 years ago when I first began teaching,” a high school foreign language teacher from Oklahoma said. “That’s so encouraging to me.”

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