Teaching Profession

Tiny Teaching Stories: ‘A Real Bird in My Class’

By Catherine Gewertz — June 09, 2020 2 min read
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The Powerful Moments of Your Lives, Distilled

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

For more Tiny Teaching Stories, click here.

To submit your own story, click here.

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‘A Real Bird in My Class’

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I was teaching a Zoom 4th grade art class how to draw tropical birds. One of my students said, “Do you want me to get my real bird?”

She left and returned with her parrot! It flew around her bedroom and landed on her head. It’s the first time in my 40-plus years of teaching art that I had a real bird in my class.

Andrean Andrus
K-8 art
Denver

‘What Happens Next Year?’

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On March 16, I wondered: Was I doing enough to engage my students? Was I confusing their academic growth? Did I help them feel safe and loved?

On April 16, I wondered: How can I keep up with the 12-hour days? What else can I do to be there emotionally for my students? Was this our new reality?

On May 16, I wondered: What do my students feel about missing our final days together? How are colleagues who aren’t coming back next year? What else could I have done? What else? What next? What happens next year?

Kyle Shugart
5th grade English
Canton, Ga.

‘Once He Started Working From Home ...’

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The most amazing thing happened to one of my students. During school, he was performing well below grade level in English/language arts, but once he started working from home, he was writing with the skill and sophistication of a 46-year-old woman. Amazing!

Gwyneth Nicholson
8th grade humanities
Saco, Maine

‘This Was Your Goodbye’

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You would not read your poem “Perfect Practice Makes You Perfect” out loud but agreed to hang it on the wall with your classmates’ poems about their dogs, a lost shoe, a trip to the beach.

Later that day, I found you sobbing in front of your poem, agony hanging on the wall. The poem title was your baseball coach’s mantra, his pep talk before the big game, his motivation when a practice was tough.

Your beloved coach died suddenly earlier that week, at the beginning of the baseball season. This was your goodbye, your sorrow shared with us.

Erika Doherty
English, grade 7
Lincoln, R.I.

‘Instead, the Student Thanked Me’

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I have been a special education teacher for the past 10 years. During the COVID-19 days, I spent many hours on the phone trying to meet the needs of my students.

On the last day of school, I told a student to stay safe and have a great summer. I thought he was going to say the same back to me. Instead, the student thanked me for all the help that I had given him during the pandemic. My heart melted. That comment meant more to me than all the raises in the world!

DiAnna Corrigan
High school special education
Smithland, Ky.

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.

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Edited by Catherine Gewertz

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