Teaching Profession

Tiny Teaching Stories: ‘Not One of the Favorites’

February 03, 2020 3 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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.

BRIC ARCHIVE

‘Not One of the Favorites’

BRIC ARCHIVE

She dropped off the letter after graduation and asked me to read it only after she’d gone. In the letter, she described herself as a “side character, not one of the favorites.” She’d finished her work and earned a passing grade and been a pleasant student. But she was right, she was not a top student.

She wrote that she had planned to end her life, but a story I told in class had changed her mind. The story was about how I find purpose in my students. I had no idea it would be such a purpose.

David Upegui
11th and 12th grade Advanced Placement Biology, Biology, and Human Anatomy
Central Falls, R.I.

‘Was I Going to Be Arrested?’

BRIC ARCHIVE

As I ushered students out of my 5th period class, a police officer was waiting for me outside the door. My heartrate spiked. I sheepishly approached him. Was this really happening? Was I going to be arrested in front of my kids? What did I do? My career is over.

We locked eyes. He said, “Is the answer 13?” Startled, I paused. Huh?

Suddenly, relief fell over me. My anxiety lifted. I confidently replied, “No, there’s more. Keep at it.”

He was just checking his answer to the Sidewalk Math problem I’d created in front of the school. Whew.

Brian Palacios
Grade 10-12 mathematics
New York

‘Brutally Honest and Impulsive’

BRIC ARCHIVE

Teaching is extremely humbling. This year, one of my sophomores asked me if I’d ever been to a party. When I replied yes, she burst out laughing and said I didn’t “look old enough.” She’s 15. Another time, I mentioned to a senior that we were wearing the same jacket and then he swore he was never going to wear it again. I’ve been asked why I don’t wear more makeup, why I’m not married, and why I chose a career that “doesn’t pay anything.”

These moments, while brutally honest and impulsive, make me smile. High schoolers are hilarious.

Kara Stoltenberg
10th and 12th grade English
Norman, Okla.

‘Why Couldn’t I Imagine’

BRIC ARCHIVE

“It’s Fun Friday, class! Today’s game: Two Truths and a Lie. I’m first. I played professional basketball, my wife teaches 3rd grade, I have eight siblings. How well do you know Mr. Bryant?”

“Your wife doesn’t teach 3rd grade!”

I laughed. Wasn’t it obvious? “Come on, who else in the school has the last name Bryant?”

Hollis, puzzled: “But Mrs. Bryant is white.”

Majestic: “I thought she was your sister, bro!”

“Majestic, she’s white …”

“She could be adopted.”

Why couldn’t they imagine a black man marrying a white woman? Why couldn’t I imagine a black family adopting a white daughter?

Roshard Bryant
2nd grade
New York

‘We Don’t Have Any Peanuts!’

BRIC ARCHIVE

During International Week, I asked the 2nd graders to pretend we were flying on an airplane to see all the different countries. I asked them to peer down at the twisting rivers and bleak deserts below, and they did.

As we reached our cruising altitude, I asked them to recline their seats, sip their drinks, and open their little bags of peanuts. Santiago’s skinny arm shot up in the air and he said, “But Mr. Minkel, we don’t have any peanuts!” I looked at him in disbelief and said, “We don’t have an airplane either, Santiago! This is all make-believe.”

Justin Minkel
2nd grade
Springdale, Ark.

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

Events

School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
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
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education

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 Letter to the Editor Validated by EdWeek, Not by My Administration
"I feel like public school in America is broken," writes a former teacher in this letter to the editor.
1 min read
Illustration of an open laptop receiving an email.
iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession Most Americans Support Raising Teacher Pay. But There's a Partisan Rift
Public support for teacher pay raises is at its highest level in at least 15 years, an Education Next survey found.
6 min read
Illustration of woman jumping across piggy banks.
Nuthawut Somsuk/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Teaching Profession Opinion Searching for Common Ground: Rick and Pedro Go to the Movies
A few education-themed films aptly capture the fact that teachers are people with huge challenges in their lives.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Teaching Profession From Our Research Center 'Over It': Most Educators Say They Won't Mask This Fall
But teachers are more likely than administrators to keep masking, EdWeek Research Center survey data show.
7 min read
Image of a face mask on a school notebook.
Steven White/iStock/Getty