Teachers share moments with students after which they changed their lessons

It goes without saying that teachers are among the most influential people in students’ lives. But even these can have a big impact on the lives of their teachers.

That’s why we asked teachers in the BuzzFeed US community about eye-opening experiences with their students that have led them to transform their teaching.

1. "Many years ago, I was the new teacher at a school and the deputy principal therefore spent a lot of time in my classroom. I had a very restless child in class who could not stay seated for a long time."

"The deputy principal has therefore moved this child’s desk to the back wall so that this child could no longer distract anyone. I felt sick when I saw this poor child stuck there, but I didn’t know what to do. Finally, I mustered up the courage to say that it is not right for me to treat a child this way. I did not care that the deputy principal was not happy about it. Since then I tell the kids that if they need a break they can go for a walk around the school. I have never had a child who took advantage of this rule and I feel a really big difference.

I still carry so much guilt when I think about this poor child. I teach seventh grade and life is hard enough at that age." -lisamariegc

Empty classroom at high school with chairs up

2. "I’m an English teacher at a high school. When I was a student myself, my teachers often did ‘popcorn’ readings where students would read aloud and then the next classmate:in would have their turn by saying, ‘popcorn + name’. This was generally a fun way to keep the student:s on the ball."

"As part of my teacher training, I decided to have the student:s read a passage from a novel using the popcorn method. One student mentioned a classmate who seemed visibly embarrassed and hesitated before finally starting to read. After the first few seconds, I could tell that this student was struggling with some form of dyslexia – he was stumbling over a lot of words and it seemed like he was guessing the words he needed to read out based on the first two or three letters.

After realizing how humiliating this method must be for students with reading difficulties, I have since been reading the passages aloud myself and then asking the class if anyone would like to read aloud (which of course can be declined). I then assigned this student the task of stopping and starting audiobooks that I was playing." -rebeccab457333985

3. "The day one of my school kids broke down because he couldn’t do his homework changed everything for me. The mother and father both had three jobs each."

"This child had four siblings and had to take care of them while the parents were at work. That was six years ago and I haven’t given any homework since then. It broke my heart. Homework is not worth it." -jacibailey

4. "It was either a 1. or 2. Class. I asked a question and one of the kids gave me a completely wrong answer. That’s why I also said ‘no, that’s wrong’."

"When I saw eagerness turn into disappointment, I never wanted to say an answer was just ‘wrong’ again. I felt really physically bad. Usually now I say something like, ‘It’s going in the right direction, but not quite yet,’ ‘I can understand how you come up with it,’ or ‘I like that you’re looking for a connection to what you already know.’ Besides, if I had done a better job of communicating the concept, the child wouldn’t have been so confused either." -Anonymous

Kids call in to class and want to be called on

5. "I can still remember a student solving a longer division problem in a different way than was taught in class. He then got a bad grade for that, even though the answer was correct."

"I also remember feeling the same way as a child at one point. I therefore decided that these kids should teach me and the rest of the class their methods instead of grading the work poorly. Have the students:use whichever method is easier for them.

There is not ONE right way to solve a math problem, as most teachers teach. Children from immigrant backgrounds, for example, may have just learned a different way of solving the problem. I think when you give students:inside the opportunity to share their methods, you learn better problem solving skills overall." -Anonymous, California

6. "Around Christmas time, I always tried to have an inclusive classroom and teach about how others celebrate this time of year."

"However, until I worked in a low-income area, I never really understood what a privilege it is to celebrate the Christmas season. My colleagues and I planned a Secret Santa activity for $5 with the children. Only a third of my class had anything with them, so many went away empty handed. I quickly put together gifts for them to play with, but I’ll never do that again. Never again. No child should be made to feel like they are worth less than others. It literally goes against everything we should be doing as educators." -Anonymous

7. "It was my first year teaching in a Philadelphia public school. Our school had a dress code that prohibited hooded sweatshirts. I had a student who came to class every day for first period wearing a hoodie and constantly refused to take it off."

"As a first year teacher, I was told not to appear weak and to be consistent in enforcing the rules. Every day he has come in with the sweatshirt, I have asked him to take it off. Since he didn’t do it, I ended up calling the principal to have him removed from class. It was a real vicious cycle over several weeks. Finally, an experienced teacher came to speak with me. She shared that she knew this student had been homeless at times and was currently living in a place that was not heated. He was not defiant. He was just cold.

That blew my mind. From that moment on, I realized how important it is to build relationships with students:so you know what’s going on in their personal lives. That’s the only way to be an effective teacher:in." -Anonymous, Pennsylvania

9. "I teach high school English. One year there was someone in my class with a pretty severe anxiety disorder. Parents told me that it was so bad that their child wouldn’t even ask to go to the bathroom."

"That’s why at the beginning of the year I told all the students:inside that they were old enough to go to the bathroom without asking permission. I also added that they are also allowed to leave the classroom if they need a break or want to stretch their legs."

I was a little worried that they might take advantage of that, but no one did. They gave me feedback that it made them feel respected. And the parents of the child with anxiety disorder told me that it would make their child feel more comfortable and independent. Now I do that in every class." -vkatiev

10. "I am a college English professor. One of the first assignments my student:s get is to write a narrative about an identity marker of their choice. This often prompts students to write about very personal experiences."

"In my first semester, I had a student who refused to do the assignment. I then asked him to stay after class to ask him why. He told me that I didn’t respect his privacy and he wouldn’t open up to just anyone. I was genuinely surprised and apologized.

In the next class, I asked him to stay again and told him about some of the hardest things I’ve been through – my brother’s ten-year heroin addiction, financial difficulties while working four jobs besides college, and a diagnosis of schizophrenia with no access to medication. He wrote a moving, really beautiful article on it about his struggle with homelessness, abuse, and trying to make it through school as a first-generation college student. Since then, when I assign this essay, I always talk openly about my problems first.

Changing my teaching philosophy in this way has greatly improved collaboration with my students inside and outside the classroom. The identity marker can be ethnicity, gender, sexuality, social class, family relationship, disability, etc. his.

I firmly believe that if I ask students to tell me something personal, I must also be prepared to do the same. I often hear that I’m the only professor they trust. Which I find sad but understandable. As an educator it is so important to show your students your humanity and acknowledge theirs." -Elizabeth, Facebook

Smiling students taking seats in a lecture hall

11. "I am a teacher of English as a second language. Many students are afraid of making mistakes, so they either stay quiet or speak in their native language to get a translation."

"Now I tell my school children to use the English they know and I can help with the rest. Since I have been doing this, their ability to form and remember sentences has improved. And more importantly, they are much more confident in speaking up. For example, a child might say, ‘Shopping mall, mom.’ I then help him say, ‘I go shopping mall, mom.’ And then, ‘I went to the shopping mall with mom.’"

They know I will help them and that it’s okay if they don’t know something." -Mereta, Facebook

12. "When I was a teacher trainee, my mentor used a clip chart. (Students:inside get a bracket down for ‘bad behavior’ and up for ‘good behavior.’).

"In my first year as a teacher, I also used a chart like this because that’s what I was taught to do. One day I had a child whose brace I had to push down. The child was devastated. Then a little boy in my class said, ‘Don’t cry, I’m always way down there. After a while you get used to being the bad kid.’ It broke my heart that something I had done had made a kid think he was a bad kid. I took the bracket board down on the spot and told the little boy that he wasn’t a bad person and that I was very sorry for making him feel that way.

That was the last time I used any form of public discipline in class." -ashleyp459897ecc

13. "When I work with my first-grade students who are struggling to read, we read a text about four times. The first time I read the text aloud and ask them to underline words they don’t understand. In the second round we read together."

‘I read every sentence and they read every other sentence out loud with me. On the third pass, I have them read on their own as best they can and circle any words they can’t yet read on their own. (This is different from the first go-around because it tests listening comprehension, whereas the second go-around tests reading comprehension.). The fourth and last time, we do a kind of round-robin reading. Each:r student:in reads a sentence from the story and I make sure they know what the sentence is beforehand.

Usually there are always some students learning English as a second language. It may seem like too much, but it helps me fill in the gaps where the student:s still lack understanding." -Monique, Facebook

Woman holding book and reading

14. "I had learned from some students:inside that they were transgender but were too afraid to use anything other than their old names and their old pronouns. After that, I included the point of names and pronouns in the "getting to know you" assignment I give at the beginning of the year."

"Only I see that and I ask privately if I can use their name and pronouns in class. For some children this makes a big difference. It’s so simple. I don’t care who they are according to attendance records. What do YOU say who you are?" -lisamariegc

15. "In my first year of teaching (1991), I scolded a student for not doing his homework. At the end of the lesson another student stayed behind, shook her head at me and said ‘Yesterday the electricity was cut off at his house.’"

"I’m still in teaching and I’ve never snapped at a kid again for not doing homework. By the way, the student from that time is also a teacher now." -Anonymous

16. "I used to teach writing using standard American English and expected my student:s to know formal language. One semester I had a student who wrote brilliantly, insightfully, and wittily beyond his years, but he didn’t seem to grasp the rules of formal writing."

"When I sat down with him to discuss where he could improve, he pointed me to the AAVE (African American Vernacular English) rules he had been using. It became very clear that the boy was doing very well. He only spoke a different dialect of English at home. As a result, I changed my curriculum so that students were graded on their overall mastery of English, not just the standard privileged version.

It’s amazing how much students:inside can flourish when we don’t get in their way!" -Anonymous,

Teacher checks what the student is writing

17. "In my first year of teaching, I had two much older mentor:s who taught me nitpicky rules like not using pencils or refusing late work. I was convinced that the rules made sense until I realized that some kids have no one at home to give them school supplies, check homework, and so on. Now I hand out materials for free."

"Even if it’s the same kid every day!" -frankie2059

18. "When my daughter was younger, I served lunch in an elementary school for a few years. Once a first grader said to me, ‘Hurry up, you stupid asshole!’. I found out that’s how his father talks to his mother."

"This child and I had a long conversation. It started out full of anger and then turned to heartbreak. He never spoke to me that way again, but unfortunately I know he still does to others. My great colleagues and I really got to know a lot of these kids. We talked to them, helped them with their schoolwork, brushed their hair, and even gave them clothes, school supplies, and Christmas presents.

That was years ago, but I still worry about him. The things these kids go through are unbelievable. There were days when I left in tears." -Ashley, Facebook

19. "A student moved out of the district and forgot to return a paperback novel (probably worth less than €10). My supervisor at the time was overly specific about returning materials, so I told the boy he needed to have someone bring the book to school."

"The student’s father then showed up, apparently drunk. The poor kid was so embarrassed and I felt awful about it. Two things became clear to me. First: children are more important than materials. Secondly, children and their lives are complicated." -Anonymous

Child is embarrassed and hides his face on the wall

20. "I teach eighth grade math. This past year has been a struggle for many students. However, I had one student who seemed to have more problems than other. He turned in every exam blank."

"It then turned out that he had incredibly severe anxiety and broke down at the sight of all the assignments on the paper. He knew how to do the assignments, but couldn’t show me how he came up with the answer. On the next exam, I had the teacher’s assistant supervise the class while I took the student to a separate room and gave them the assignments orally one at a time. He was able to verbally walk me through each problem.

Since then, my student survey at the beginning of the year has included the following question: ‘How would you prefer to demonstrate your math skills? Through pen and paper tasks or oral demonstration?’ -maliaswift02

21. "Every day of my life as a high school teacher, I have learned something from the students:inside. I was never in a good mood in the first lesson and therefore didn’t cope well with late comers as a result."

"One day I got upset with a student who was late for class. In talking to her, I then learned that she has to wake up all her siblings every morning, get them dressed and take them to school because their mother was not able to help them. She taught me to be humble, to ask questions, and most importantly, to not assume that the kids don’t want to do school. I apologized to her in front of the class and thanked her for reminding me that compassion, communication, and listening are the most important parts of teaching.

It has changed the way I look at the people I am responsible for. Students:learn in spite of us and not because of us. Anything I can ask, do, or hear to help them is the job of any teacher:in. We have a great impact on the lives of students. A grumpy morning could turn into something unhealthy for the minds and spirits of these wonderful children I care for." -Anonymous

22. "There was a fifth grader, let’s call him Sean, who was known for being stuffy, dirty, etc. Was. There have been two or three lice outbreaks at our school because of this."

"During a lice outbreak, the nurse regularly comes to our classroom and combs the hair of the children who have been proven to have lice (with a lice comb). The one time Sean freaked out was because the nurse said to him, ‘If you had better hygiene, you wouldn’t do that to your classmates.’.

It turned out that his mother had lost her job and his family was practically homeless. After that, the nurse never did classroom sweeps again and our school put out a policy not to say which student:s triggered the outburst." -destinye41dad8e04

'Hair is checked for lice with a magnifying glass and comb

23. "During a parent-teacher conference, a mother once told me how grateful she was that I corrected students’ work with colored pens and smiley faces instead of the usual red crosses."

"She also told me that her son hated the color red because his previous teacher had corrected his papers with huge red crosses. In my class her son came home much happier to show the colorful smileys." -Anonymous

24. "I became a teacher after I already had two children of my own. I had to complete a 20-hour practicum in a sixth grade classroom and practice reading and comprehension with a particularly difficult group of children."

"I gave them an assignment to review the next day. Of the seven children, two had done the assignments. Of course, I put on my ‘teacher face’ and asked why they didn’t do the task. There have been excuses like ‘I didn’t have paper at home’, ‘I had too much work in the house’ and ‘I didn’t know how’. To which I replied, ‘Why didn’t you ask your parents for help? ‘I’m sure they would have helped you if you had asked them’ and ‘You can always take paper from another notebook’. Only one child spoke up and his response is one I will never forget as long as I live. He said, ‘You must be one of those cookie-baking moms who cooks every night and does laundry and shit, or?’

I told him that I have baked many cookies and tried to cook something in the evening when I was not too tired. Then he told me that his mother was never home, that he didn’t know where his father was, and that he had to take care of his brothers and sisters.

The others in the group then talked about the different but very similar conditions they all lived under. I knew these conditions were out there, sure. But in my own small town? In my children’s school?

From then on I had a whole new perspective. I didn’t graduate until two years later, but I knew I had to be mindful of the different circumstances in which the children lived. I never just assumed anything about the kids again and that was a really, really good experience." -pointyblackhat

25. "It’s been more than 20 years and I will never forget a student who graduated about 15 years ago. He came to my class to say goodbye and after exchanging pleasantries (and thanking me for letting him eat lunch in the classroom every day), he told me about the relentless bullying that gay students face at our high school.

"I was stunned. I really had had no idea. When I asked him why he didn’t confide in me during any of the many lunch breaks he spent in my classroom, he simply said, ‘Because that’s just the way it is here.’

This conversation shook me so much that it was the beginning of my lifelong journey to be a visible and vocal ally inside and outside the classroom." -jmcv

Student sitting on chair with cell phone in hand looking stressed

26. "College professor here. I had a student who at first glance looked like she never paid attention (didn’t participate, was always on her phone, left class all the time, etc.). I confronted her and asked her why she would act like she didn’t want to be present."

"The answer completely changed my perspective on student behavior. The student involved apologized and then told me that she was afraid to go to the dorm alone in the dark-it was an evening class-so she became more and more anxious during class and eventually could not concentrate. As a woman who feels the same way when she has to walk home in the dark, I could understand it well. From then on I did one-on-one sessions or cut the class in half so that this student was always scheduled at the beginning and could go home in the light of day.

I got a super sweet email from her at the end of the semester. You never know where a student’s behavior is coming from until you ask!" -Anonymous

27. ‘ "I teach students:inside with severe disabilities at a special education school. I have learned over the years that it is tremendously important to offer choices (z. B. Do you want to do this now or in five minutes? Do you want to do it yourself or do you need help? Do you want to sit in the blue chair or the red chair?).

"Offering a choice, even if it seems like a small thing, can be very encouraging and teach important life and independence skills. Neurotypical kids have the privilege of making countless decisions every day and we take that away from our students with disabilities." -Anonymous

28. "We had a student who changed first grade midway through the school year. While she enjoyed coming to school, she wasn’t very studious. One day she was late again, ate all her breakfast and then asked me for more food, which I gave her."

"She then refused to take off her hood for the entire day, even though it kept falling in her face. After the other students left, I asked her why she had kept the hood on. She confessed to me that she was afraid the other kids would make fun of her. She finally took off her hood and showed me her matted and dirty hair.

We spent all day untangling and combing her hair as much as we could. I finally called a hairdresser friend of mine and with the permission of the student’s grandparents, cleaned her up and had her hair cut the next morning. While getting her hair cut, the student told me about the neglect and abuse she suffered. She was placed in a foster home the day after I reported this to Child Protective Services, who loves her. In my six years on the job, I’ve found that so many barriers to learning lie outside the classroom. Every:r teacher:in can attest to this." -Amber, Facebook

Girl looks in mirror and looks unhappy

29. "I remember telling a child several times to sit up straight in class. It wasn’t until later that I realized it wasn’t getting enough sleep because his parents were homeless as well as always on the road."

"I learned that if a child is very sleepy in class, you should let them sleep because you never know what’s going on with them."

30. "I taught a student who was only able to go to school thanks to the support of an aid organization."

"His story and perseverance completely changed my perspective on the importance of education and the recognition of the hardships that many student:ins have to go through to get their education."

31. "One little girl I knew had a strong attachment to wax crayons. I politely asked her about it and she then told me that her parents could not actually afford these pens."

"To make a long story short: I never asked for parents to provide certain materials again. Now I’m trying to collect as much as I can over the summer." -Anonymous

Toddler coloring with wax crayons

32. "I was teaching freshman biology in high school when I noticed a bright, engaged student become a problem child. The student was talkative, talked over me and sat in the wrong seat. I was a little annoyed with him."

"One day I was teaching about a certain system of the human body when I heard him whispering. He whispered something to the kid next to him about the subject we just covered. That’s when I realized that he needed more time to talk in class, and that he liked to focus on the lesson when he had the opportunity to do so. After that, I introduced more time for variety and talking in class: Students:first write something and then share what they wrote. There have been no more problems with it after that. This experience helps me to look more closely at what the students need in the classroom and how I can meet them where they are.

I even had him do a fun demonstration to give him a chance to briefly lead the class and he loved it. My aunt told me that my cousin had the same problem, but his teacher didn’t adjust and he had a miserable school year. It’s so important to always be flexible as a teacher. There is always more to learn." -Anonymous

33. "Fixed seating arrangements don’t make sense. My work in an elementary school remedial class opened my eyes to this. Many kids couldn’t even sit still in their chairs for a minute."

"I was starting to lose patience. One day a student said her brain wouldn’t let her sit still, no matter how hard she tried and admonished herself. A light bulb went on in my head. I should have known that! I have floor cushions, exercise balls, etc. Worried and even let the kids lie on rugs while they wrote and/or read.

Oh and they could stand or do stretches during class to control their fidgets. This helped the kids immensely." -okokimono

34. "In my first year as a teacher, I constantly admonished a third grader who wasn’t on task and even typed on his paper. One day I watched him working on a problem that no one had solved yet."

"He was very diligent and kept trying until he finally found the solution. As a class we celebrated that. As a teacher, I have learned to open my mind and eyes to what learning can look like. I never touched a paper again. It’s been 16 years now, but I know without a doubt that any success I’ve had on the job is due to this young man." -Anonymous

Schoolboy sits in class and smiles at classmate

35. "I used the term ‘parent’ thoughtlessly in my class. In my second year of teaching, I had an exchange student who was a foster child. He was very closed off and not interested in socializing because he had been pushed back and forth."

"The first time I said ‘parent,’ I could see him looking away. I felt terrible because I just hadn’t thought about it. From then on, I just said ‘your adult’. The next time I wanted to send something home with him, I said ‘your adult’ and he smiled a little bit. He has started to open up a bit in class and has even made a few friends. This was just a little something for me, but it really helped him feel equal with his classmates.

I now always look at all the information about my student:s background so I can make them feel safe and integrated." -Anonymous

36. "Once, a student got detention for wearing a sweater that wasn’t the right school sweater. Later I found her crying in the classroom – where she told me she couldn’t afford the school sweater."

"Starting the next day, I kept a supply of school sweaters in the back of the classroom for anyone who couldn’t afford them." -Anonymous

37. "In my first year as a teacher, I handed out worksheets as homework at the end of every lesson. They were short and fairly simple, but I had a student who never did them anyway."

"He still paid attention in class and did well on the tests. Towards the end of the year, I found out that he had to work after school to support his family, so he didn’t have time for homework. After this year, I stopped checking homework altogether. I still assign it for students who need more practice, but they are not checked anymore because I don’t know their personal life." -Anonymous

Math homework with a pencil and eraser

38. "I noticed that every time we did group work, one child was never chosen until all the groups were full and one group had to take it."

"From that point on, I never let the students:choose their groups or partners:again. I choose them all myself." -jamesarthurwrites

39. "I’m a high school teacher. When I first started doing this, I tried very hard to stay out of the kids’ ‘drama’ and just focus on the class. I had a student that I liked but I thought she was dramatic because she cried a lot."

"I later found out that her stepfather had become violent towards her when she was protecting her brother who had a disability and Child Protective Services wanted to take her away from home. As a result, I instituted the rule ‘If you’re having a bad day, I have a quiet room where you can be alone’. If someone is upset, he/she can always come to me and calm down or sleep there.

The room has never been abused. A lot of them come out after a while and go back to work because they just need a space where they can feel safe and maybe cry. In high schools there is no privacy and sometimes we all just need to get out and take a break." -raphaelahops

40. "I used to represent kids in the juvenile justice system. Sometimes I helped them re-enroll in school when they got out of jail. Most schools didn’t want them and they didn’t hide that fact. I took a boy on a school visit and I’ll never forget it."

"He had been through a lot and was a tough kid, but throughout the tour they were so horrible to us. He got closer and closer to me until he finally stuck to my side. We couldn’t get away from there fast enough. He cried in my car about how ‘they don’t want him here and he should just get out’. That broke my heart.

It went on like that until our sixth school visit. That’s clearly where the principal read the file I sent her. She knew his name, came out personally to greet us and showed us around. She was so kind and really happy to help him get back into school. While he was in school she kept an eye on him, called me when he had problems and took care of him. I don’t know who cried more when he graduated, them or me." -lawyerlady

Hand on handcuff

41. "During my time in the clerkship, I learned to especially love the kid that nobody likes. I had a student in my class that all the teachers talked bad about."

"He was ‘never going to amount to anything’. Throughout the year I went out of my way to treat him like he was super smart and capable of anything. Only in my class this year did he give up anything and he was really brilliant. In general, students:inside will always try to meet your expectations – no matter how high they are. So now I’m always looking for runaway:ins who need someone to see them, fight for them, and believe in them. Especially when no one else would." -Anonymous

42. "I’m a teacher in a pediatric behavioral health and mental health program. I was recently sent a student whose file said he threatened violence and disappeared from the classroom. One day he snapped because his black marker was ‘not black enough’."

"We tried to talk some sense into him, but he was very upset, so we let him have his space. He eventually calmed down and came back, then all was well. Days later something was wrong with his lunch and he announced he was going home. He left the class and the building. We went after him and he calmly explained that his lunch was not okay and that’s why he was going home. It was very matter of fact. Instead of yelling and forcing him back, we talked about how he didn’t know the way home and could get lost. We suggested going back in and asking if his mother could bring him another lunch or pick him up. He came back willingly, intensely engaged in a project, and completely forgot that he wanted to go home. He had an autism spectrum disorder. That was it.

I have more and more students:inside who are autistic but are treated as if they are just bad or defiant children. This student was my most recent example. His file contained all kinds of difficult and dangerous behavior. We didn’t notice any behavior like that – he’s quirky, but super smart. I got curious and talked to his former teacher. She talked about him as if he had the stamp ‘bad kid’ on his forehead. It was terrible. She should be fired.

He was smart as hell, but he had this rigid need for everything to go his way. Forcing him to do things that didn’t meet his needs would only escalate him. Validating him and respecting his intelligence by finding a ‘better solution’ stopped his outbursts completely. It’s not hard." -crookedflowers

43. "I was a teaching assistant in an ethnography course that involved a lot of discussion. Students were empathetic and had good grades for their participation. The problem was their work. Many had ‘incorrect’ grammar."

"The professor and I were frustrated because we knew how smart these students were, so he instructed me that I should meet with each student to help. The papers were written in a narrative style, d. h. the students wrote in the first person about their own experiences. Then I realized that most of the student:s were black and the essays were grammatically correct in African American English.

I realized that we set expectations for students that don’t match their personal experiences. So I called the professor on it and pointed out that books are usually written in the first person as the narrator naturally speaks and thinks. The professor agreed with me that this was only fair and changed the way we graded, after which we noticed a difference in the students’ self-confidence.

Sure, if these were academic papers where a certain grammatical structure was prescribed, it would make sense to grade them that way, but these were first person stories. So we decided it was an unfair rule to force students to write personal stories in a way that didn’t reflect how they actually spoke." -nicoles40e5cb895

Husband and wife give each other a high five

44. "Last year, during a parent interview, I reviewed a student’s data on his reading progress. Unfortunately, it was about two years behind. I asked how much the child would read at home."

"The mother just meant ‘not at all’. I was amazed because I think reading is very important. She then explained to me that she works 14 hours a day in a restaurant and that the student does his virtual learning there. I didn’t know that because he always had his camera off. She also said that she only had Sundays off and was only busy cleaning, doing laundry and cooking there. It really made me realize that not everyone shares my priorities.

Of course she wants the best for her child, but she is in survival mode. This realization shook me and I still think of her often." -Anonymous

45. "In my second year of teaching, I had a student who was often disruptive and was just silly and annoying most of the time. He wanted and often needed my attention, so I gave him a notebook and said he could write in it when he finished his independent work and I would look at it when I wasn’t teaching or giving instructions."

"I was absolutely floored by some of his sentences. He has written about how others ask him to be tough, but in his heart he is not. He also wrote that he wanted to behave better and apologized for his behavior as well as that of his classmates. He even asked if I had read what he had written. I reassured him that I had read it and so it became a dialogue journal where he could express himself and I could reinforce that I knew he was a good kid and that I believed in him and his ability to make good choices. This type of connection allowed me to see eye-to-eye with him when issues arose and I could see an overall improvement in his behavior." -Anonymous

46. "The situation that most changed the way I teach falls under the category of ’empathy’. It starts with really getting to know your students. Mine are teenagers. They sometimes work late and sleep in class. You must understand why they are tired."

"I have had children where family members have died from COVID. I also did. Show compassion. I had students in the hospital. Visit them. I have had students whose parents were murdered. Go to the wake and be there for them. Many of my students have problems at home. Listen to them. As a teacher, I love my students like my own children – I praise them when they do well and am disappointed when they misbehave. But I never give up on my children.

Understand that all children have a gift and help them discover it. Love them. You are bound to get hurt, but you must forgive if you want to reach these children." -Anonymous

Teacher sits with children in a circle of chairs and everyone raises their hand

You can’t thank these incredible educators and their colleagues enough! Thank you for the empathy, respect, and compassion you show the students. Your work has a great impact on the lives of children.

If you have had similar experiences or have thoughts about these stories, share it with us in the comments!

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