Teaching Profession

Tiny Teaching Stories: ‘My Voice Is Terrible’

By Catherine Gewertz — January 03, 2020 2 min read

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.


‘My Voice Is Terrible’


It was my first year at a new school, and when I thought I had exhausted every ounce of myself, I lost my voice.

I wrote on the board:

“Hi. My voice is terrible, please read the additional instructions for today.”

(I grabbed some copies before the bell rang.)

I return to find:

*One student holding the door open and welcoming each student in, and giving a compliment, “because you do that for us.”

*The word “terrible” replaced with “wonderful” and a number of other positive comments.

*All students asking to do my job.

Students notice us; EVERYTHING SPEAKS.

Kirby Schmidt
Grades 7-12 agriscience
Deer River, Minn.

‘I Go to a School That Teaches You to Read’


Quan arrived at my 1st grade classroom daily with his fast-food breakfast and sat in the back. As tall as a middle schooler, and as street-smart as an adult, he came to us recognizing only one word: his name.

I tried dozens of reading strategies with him over a few months, including writing songs and jump-roping to the alphabet. When I met his mother to discuss Quan’s educational path, she said he’d stepped off a bus in his neighborhood recently, and the children asked where he’d been. He proudly responded, “I go to a school that teaches you to read.”

Kathryn Starke
K-5 literacy
Richmond, Va.

‘Now I Knew Who It Was’


Her wink gave her away. For three weeks, I’d started class with a poem, selected to demonstrate the power of language.

I invited my students to share their own or others’ poems. Few did. But someone was leaving poems taped to my door, each mysteriously signed, “Student of 2020.” Clipped from magazines, found online, or in books, each poem spoke to her—and to us—about the many ways words can soar or sing when shared.

We didn’t use them for evaluation or outcomes, but for the love of words. And now I knew who it was leaving me poems.

Glen Young
12th grade English
Petoskey, Mich.

‘Apologizing for the Bullies’


Teachers CAN survive and thrive after an awful first year. I wasn’t anonymous in the small Nebraska town where I began teaching, so students could easily make harassing phone calls, steal things from my mailbox, and vandalize my car. I didn’t get enough support from my overwhelmed first-year principal, but I should have reached out to other people, too.

A year ago, as I was planning to retire, a student from that first year sent me a Facebook message apologizing for the “bullies” in the school. I’m glad I didn’t let that awful first year drive me from the profession.

Barbara Gottschalk
K-5 English as a Second Language
Troy, Mich.



I’m outside walking around on recess duty and two little girls I don’t know come up and give me a hug.

Girl 1: Mr. Gerber, give me knuckles.

We fist bump.

Girl 1: You look like my Grandpa Murray.

Me: He must be really handsome.

Girl 1: No, he’s just really old.

Girl 2: You don’t look like my Grandpa Smith, but he’s really old, too.


Larry Gerber
5th grade
Cody, Wyo.

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


Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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.
Mathematics Webinar
Engaging Young Students to Accelerate Math Learning
Join learning scientists and inspiring district leaders, for a timely panel discussion addressing a school district’s approach to doubling and tripling Math gains during Covid. What started as a goal to address learning gaps in
Content provided by Age of Learning & Digital Promise, Harlingen CISD
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.
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive

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 New York City Will End Controversial Absent Teacher Pool
Education department officials there announced that they will place hundreds of sidelined teachers in permanent teaching positions starting next year.
Michael Elsen-Rooney, New York Daily News
4 min read
Image of a teacher in a classroom full of kids.
Teaching Profession Teachers Walk Off the Job at Chicago’s Urban Prep
With just two weeks left to the school year, teachers went on strike over what they say is a lack of support for special education students.
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune
3 min read
Images shows hand drawn group of protestors.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion Compassion Fatigue Is Overwhelming Educators During the Pandemic
Educators need acknowledgment and healing while dealing with their own and others' grief. Here’s what administrators can do to help.
Shayla Ewing
5 min read
Illustration of empty shirt and cloud
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Teaching Profession Is It Time to Relax Teacher Dress Codes?
After teaching at home in comfortable clothes, some school and district leaders support casual attire for teachers returning to classrooms.
4 min read
Illustration of clothes on hangers