Teaching Profession

Tiny Teaching Stories: ‘How Will We Navigate This New Normal?’

By Catherine Gewertz — August 04, 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.

‘How Will We Navigate This New Normal?’

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I put Bill Nye’s viral Tik Tok about masks on Google Classroom
saying: I don’t know how many of ya’ll are still checking school emails. …
Soon I had a stream of precious digital avatars replying:

“I am here!”
“I miss you.”
“God Bless you, Ms.”

Missing the “Good Mornings”
Now, so many are mourning
At our county’s epicenter

But the proverbial
They
Tell us it is safe

How will we navigate this new normal?
Without hugs & shared Taki bags?
Without Uno games or small groups?
Only a few more weeks...

Amanda Ladish
8th and 9th grade English as a second language
Springdale, Ark.

‘A Mother Who Shot Her Boyfriend’

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They pulled me into the office to say you would be in my class because they thought I’d be the best teacher for you. You were living with your grandmother and were anxiously awaiting the day you could go stay with your mom again. We talked about it all the time.

I was watching the news one night, heard the story about a mother who shot her boyfriend, sat straight up in bed knowing that was your mom. You were absent the next day. I called Grandma that afternoon. She told me it was true. My heart broke for you.

Laura Kirkpatrick
6th-8th grades, instructional coach, English/language arts
Alamogordo, N.M.

‘Poems From the Pandemic’

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The shutdown of our district disrupted a Gwendolyn Brooks poetry unit that was just gathering steam. Continuing the study online, my students analyzed Brooks’ work but more importantly wrote poems that honored her style: gender poems, pride poems, personal-hero poems. A few students mimicked her iconic “We Real Cool.”

To celebrate the writing, I am assembling a souvenir book of students’ drafts to be disseminated when we see each other in person again. These poems from the pandemic channeled students’ creativity in ways I could not have imagined.

Karen Yelton-Curtis
11th grade language and literature
Fresno, Calif.

‘He Always Seemed Weary’

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He was my challenge. He would come sit in my office, and we would just talk. His eyes always seemed to be heavy, and he always seemed weary. He was barely passing. He was the kind of person who had a presence when he entered the room, but he didn’t know it. His spirit’s light bulb was dim, and he was lost. That’s how he was when his time was up, and he graduated. I worried.

Years later, he surprised me and came to my new school in his Navy uniform. He thanked me for just listening.

Rakiba Mitchell
High school counselor
Detroit

‘Poop and More Poop’

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I teach 12th grade. Mature and articulate seniors who have ideas that continue to amaze me even after almost 20 years. Sometimes, however, a student still says or writes something confounding. During the personal-narrative unit one fall, a senior ended a very touching piece about a hospitalized loved one with a phrase that’s been burned into my memory.

I agonized over how to talk with him about it. His response when we talked? He simply hadn’t known how to end it. Now years later, “Poop and more poop” is my response to many of life’s absurdities.

Martha Aborn-Paribello
12th grade English
Storrs, Conn.

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.

Edited by Catherine Gewertz

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