Long before I walked through the doors of Whittier Middle School as an Ed Tech (only 5 years ago), I held the librarians and teachers I knew in high regard. I have friends and family in these positions, and of course, I met my community members in our local schools when my children attended. I thought I knew the roles pretty well.
When I sold my first book though, and became a published author, I began traveling outside my county and even my state to visit other school systems. My education circle grew . .
and grew . . .
I learned teachers in all districts, states, and grades have many things in common. They work long hours, always at school, and usually at home. They stay late to teach one-on-one. They take extra classes to improve their own learning and they attend the basketball games of their students. All while managing their own family commitments.
But now that I’m there, inside the school walls, I see even more. I’ve witnessed teachers buy food. Join track with a student, so the student can participate. Donate clothing. Slip books into backpacks. And yes, even purchase the supplies to make one hundred Incredible, Edible Aquifers, in order to make learning about groundwater contamination fun.
They’ve gone to funerals. Thrown birthday parties. Wiped tears. Celebrated their reluctant reader’s book choice.
And I swear, every single one of them buy a hundred, gazillion pencils, even after threatening not to.
Everywhere I’ve gone, every school I’ve presented at, you feel it the minute you walk through the doors. Teachers care. They do what’s necessary to mold the minds of our future generations. And not just in Science and History and Reading and Writing . . . but they teach values, too.
This has been a tough couple of weeks for all of you. For me, too. But I want you all to remember, so many people out “there” have your back. I see the kindness every day . . . from the author who donates a box full of books, to the parent who sends in a box of pencils.
Me, I want to let you know I hear you too. I wish I was a louder person, I’m just not comfortable shouting from a roof top about anything. But I’ve been listening. Watching. Researching. And yes, doing my part, albeit quietly.
One of my favorite things, is to contribute to a classroom/school library. So today, when I feel we all need the positivity most, I’m opening up a contest to all teachers and librarians. To be entered, all you have to do is post an inspiring classroom moment in the comments below. My goal: to compile a list of uplifting, teacher and librarian moments! Good things happening in the classroom and school!
A celebration of all you do!
Here are the rules:
- No names of students or teachers or administrators in your story without permission, please
- To be eligible, give your name, your school’s name, and state. If you aren’t a teacher or librarian, lead them here to enter under their own name.
- Tell us an inspiring, uplifting moment in the comments below. It can be between you and a student, you and a parent, another teacher or the class pet! But again. No names, unless you have permission. Confidentiality is a must. Well, okay, maybe the name of the Class Pet. I don’t think they’d mind. But if you do use the class pet . . . I’d love to see a picture! Because, you know, I am a nature geek and all. Hmmm – maybe my next contest will include them!
1st Prize A classroom set of hardcover, Cooper and Packrat Books AND a Skype Visit (provided you’ve read or at least begun the books with your classroom and that we can agree on a time and date)
2nd Prize A classroom set of Cooper and Packrat Books
3rd Prize One Cooper and Packrat adventure of your choice
All entries must be entered by midnight, February 14th. A winner will be randomly chosen on Wednesday, February 15th, by my classroom and posted here, on February 16th. Rules must be followed to be eligible.
And just because I wouldn’t ask you to do something I wouldn’t want to, here is my favorite teaching moment:
Taking students to the Fire Station can be so much fun. Here I am with the teacher I work with, Shannon Shanning (using her name with permission)
The students had challenged us that day, to see which one could get dressed in the fire fighters gear faster. And you know, I don’t remember exactly who won. But I do remember the students and fire fighters cheering, Shannon and I laughing, all the while learning at the same time about sportsmanship, firefighter gear and community.
Edited on 2/15 to add the winners!
I’m so very glad I didn’t have to judge based on the inspirational stories below . . . each one was told from the heart and brought tears to my eyes. What amazing students you have . . . and how fortunate they are to have had you in their lives.
Today my students took time out from their National History Day duties to pull three names from a pencil holder. In the order pulled, with first place pulled first . . .
Thank you all for taking the time to enter! I will be in touch very, very shortly.
Everyone, check back again soon. I tend to do this every now and again . . .
I’m passing this on to my favorites, at Appleton Village School, Appleton, Maine. I substitute in both classroom and library, and volunteer too! (but you know that!)
This is a wonderful opportunity! Thank you.
Thank you for spreading the word Mona! It’s on my author FB page too, which could be an easier link for some to find my blog.
My most inspiring moment as a teacher came in the shape of a young student in second grade at Waterford Memorial School. He was every teacher’s worst nightmare, he was naughty, he hated school, he hated teachers and most of all he was open about not wanting to learn. As a first year teacher I was floored, this was not what I signed up for! I was so frustrated and within the first week of school I was in the teacher’s room saying ” I give up, I don’t know what to do with this kid, he hates me!” Another teacher, a veteran of the school, grabbed my face and said ” He doesn’t want you to TEACH him, he wants you to LOVE him!” Then she just walked away! I started crying right then and there. I went home and came to school with a new attitude for this student. I greeted him at the door with a hug, I asked him to eat lunch with me, I forced our connection. Over time he and I became more than just teacher and student, we became friends. This bond helped him grow academically but he was so far behind that he repeated second grade with me again. He made so much growth! In our journey together we also realized that he needed more help in the form of special education classes. I got him the help he needed and I stay in touch with him today. He is my proof that you should never give up on anybody because everyone is special in their own way. If I win this contest I am going to give my book to him or to his class because he inspires me every single day!
Bailey! You have me in tears here! I try to remember this every day as an Ed Tech, but also in my school visits as an author. Sometimes we never who’s heart we touch . . . which mind we’ve inspired. Thank you!
It’s so hard to pick just ONE favorite moment from teaching. Despite the long hours and the hard work, it is the most rewarding career anyone could possibly have. In thinking back on some of my favorite moments, I remember my time as a 5th grade teacher at Oxford Elementary.
I had a 5th grade girl who was the most stubborn young lady I had ever met. She would refuse to do most things during her time at school, and other teachers “warned” me about her difficult behavior. This young girl had been through more than any 10 year old should ever have to go through, and she so desperately needed someone to connect with. She was mostly blind in both eyes and received most of her learning in the life skills setting. I worked with her special ed teacher to be sure that she was in my classroom as often as possible, but it was difficult for her because of her disabilities and her disposition. She refused to read braille and refused all assistive technology given to her to help her read.
Despite all of the difficulties she faced, this young lady would work very hard to get all of her work done during the day so that she could join the class at the end of the day for read aloud. She LOVED being read to, it was seriously her favorite time of day. My favorite part of reading to her was when she would get this dreamy look on her face, as if she had been transported to the world the character was in. She was the most attentive listener in the class, and had the most infectious giggle (especially when I did my parrot voice). Sometimes I had to stop reading because even I would laugh at the story right along with her.
There were times that year that her special ed teacher couldn’t get her to cooperate and the teacher would call upon me to try to reason with her. She usually listened to me, and I believe it was because of the connection we made through the books we read together. Read aloud had always been my non-negotiable when it came to priorities in my classroom. I had always dedicated at least 15 minutes a day to reading aloud to my fifth graders. This student simply re-affirmed my beliefs that reading aloud to kids, especially the older ones, is so important.
Otisfield Community School
Katie, I do believe read-alouds are very important. Magic happens when I read to our seventh and eighth graders . .. they are inspired, conversations begun and connections made. Thank you for sharing this special story!
Boys and writing. We read about this unlikely duo all the time. How to get boys to write. How to get boys to read. How to get boys to sit still to write and read. Well something hit me this past week. Boys want to be heard just as much as girls do. No, I don’t mean by yelling out in class and all the other, often inappropriate, ways that boys garner our classroom attention. But they want their thoughts, feelings, and needs to be heard.
Often we wonder why boys struggle so in school. Sure there are many external reasons that we can’t really do a lot about. Family issues being one. But there are a few we can do something about. Many, many boys are hard wired to move, and move a lot. Yet school is so often all about sitting, being polite, taking your turns. Yes, important things but do they always have to be front and center? Can we move, speak out, and wiggle sometimes and have it be OK?
A week ago a boy in my class decided that he wanted to sell unusual handmade items called pencil belts. We had just watched a video on Heifer International in our knitting club and decided we wanted to make yarn objects like knitted pouches to sell so we could purchase a farm animal to donate to a family in need. This boy asked if we could sell pencil belts. Pencil belts? Sure, sounds harmless enough. So off he set to make posters to put around school, set up a desk outside the classroom, design raffle tickets, order forms, a system to track orders, and “hiring” others when the business became overwhelming for him.. Holy cow! Reading, writing, math, economics, graphic arts… all for pencil belts.
“Pencil belts?” you may ask. Well, to be honest, I asked too. We’ll get to that. The real heart of this story is about the power of when boys’ voices are heard. Boys whose voices are heard do better in school. I say this using evidence from years of watching this phenomena over and over again, with pencil belts being the most recent. While I am fortunate to have many engaged boys in my class this year I have a few who at times are not. When this pencil belt phenomena took hold, these boys jumped in head first helping with posters, manning the desk, counting the money, and of course using their hands to wind yarn around weaving needles to make, of all things, brightly colored pencil belts. Pencil belts you see are tiny yarn belts for pencils. They are designed to be tied to the top of the pencil near the eraser. Then they work their magic by making your writing come alive.
You may wonder if my boys all of a sudden enjoy writing more? Well, yes I think they do. Will it last? Who knows. But the important part was that we listened. We listened to the boys. We heard them. We heard their plea to create, take control, move their bodies, use all their learning for something meaningful. When we listen, they learn.
Ode to Pencil Belt
I sat at my desk and wanted to cry,
My teacher told me to just try.
I wanted to write.
I really did.
But no matter how hard I tried,
nothing seemed to work.
Then Johnny gave me something
that I had never seen.
It was tiny. It was yarn.
It was a bright color green.
He tied it to my pencil.
“You’ll see,” he said.
I began to write and
well they just flowed.
I soon realized that this
little yarn was
stonger than steel,
better than gum.
“What is this?” I asked.
“A Pencil Belt!” he grinned.
**All 100% of the proceeds of this trademarked Pencil Belt goes to http://www.heifer.org/
Albert S. Hall School
PS – I tried to post a picture but there are pictures at the website. Thank you Tamra!! PS – We’d love to SKYPE with you!!
*Gasp* A pencil belt!! I neeeeeeed one of these! I’ve been working on Cooper’s 4th adventure, and you know, sometimes I get a little stuck. How do I get one, Mary??
I love how inspiration spreads from writer to writer to writer . . .
Thank you for sharing Mary!
I have an amazing group of students who did not see themselves as writers at the beginning of the year. Every day writing workshop seemed to be a struggle to get them to write…anything. Students whined, cried and refused to write. Throughout the fall we worked on what I knew would lay the foundation for their success; growth mindset and perseverance. Little by little, students gained confidence, wrote more and started to share their writing. In November, we had an authors’ tea and invited family members and members of our school family into the classroom to share their stories. The energy in the room was amazing. My students’ pride about their writing was radiating out of their faces and voices as they read their stories.
In January we were joined by a student teacher from UMF. As a get to know you activity, students shared something important about themselves. I asked my student teacher to do the same. After she shared that she enjoyed writing, especially poetry, one of my most reluctant writers at the beginning of the year said, ” Well, if you like writing, you came to the write place!” I chuckled a little to myself and thought…we’ve come a long way!
Oh, I love how you brought in family members to hear your student’s stories! That’s brilliant. I always tell students at the school’s I visit, that if they are brave enough to share their writing with others, then they are authors.
Say hello to your authors for me! And thank you for sharing. 🙂
Valerie, I love this story! You have such a wonderful group of kiddos in your classroom and a lucky student teacher, too.
One of my best experiences was back during my internship in Gorham. Mrs. Tibbitts (used with permission) was planning a unit on Africa. I wanted to do a unit on poetry, so we intertwined the two units. Many of the students grumbled that they did not like poetry and I couldn’t make them. I went about teaching the unit, creating a”Poet’s License” for each student, teaching different forms of poetry, creating poems about the different geographical and cultural aspects of Africa, sharing poems by other poets, etc. The best part of this whole experience was when one of our most shy students and her mom came in one day and told me that the student had gone to a poetry reading at the public library, and had actually shared some of her poems! Proud teacher moment!! Second to this was all the students who expressed how much they loved poetry at the end of the unit! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to relive that memory!
A Poet’s License! What a fabulous idea! 🙂
I love that your student shared her work at a poetry reading! It’s always a big step at the beginning of the classroom year, for students to share their work out loud. We like to use round-the-table author shares. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by the blog, Jan!!
In 20 years of teaching I have had a few special moments that have always warmed my heart, but one that is popping in my mind right now happened just the other day at the grocery store. We were in a hurry of course and the grocery store was mobbed as we were all preparing for the blizzard. The lines at the checkouts were long and the checkers and baggers were working as fast as they could. The bagger in our line was a former student who in third grade was a handful. He struggled with reading, writing, math, well just about everything so he often acted out and quite often refused to do his classwork. His parents were supportive, but I think even they had given up. He would often say how dumb he was and just couldn’t learn, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t let him think that way about himself. I did the best I could with him that year and had always hoped that I had made a difference. Well in the line at the grocery store he was so excited to see me and we chatted and caught up with each other. He is a senior and will be graduating this year and going to college to study education. While we were chatting his manager came over (who I know and has donated things to the classroom before), and he told her that it was all because of me that he wanted to be a teacher and that I was the teacher that helped him realize that he could learn and was not dumb, he may have to work a bit harder, but that it was worth it and that if I hadn’t “made him” read The Mouse and the Motorcycle” that he never would have discovered that he loved to read. He said that he had had other teachers that made him feel less than he was, but that he would always remember me and that he knew he had at least one person that saw the potential in him. Needless to say I was blushing bright red and we had held up the line a bit, but it was a very special moment for both of us.
Oh, Karen, you’re making me teary! How wonderful for both of you that he had a chance to re-connect with you and thank you personally. I know it must have meant the world to him to see you again and tell you. Just as much as it meant the world to you to see how well he’s doing.
Teaching is such a rewarding job!
In 17 years of teaching, it is hard to pick just one moment. But, the one that is probably most near and dear to my heart comes from a young man–my cousin.
My cousin is now 16 and a junior in high school. Last fall, my family had him over for dinner. During dinner, our conversation was about all of the cool books he had been buying and reading. He told us that for his birthday he had even asked for gift cards to buy as many books as possible. It pleased me to hear that he was so excited to be reading, and that ultimately he was LOVING to read. He shared that he had even tried to read one of my favorite books, The Ocean At The End of The Lane, but felt he couldn’t get into it! It pleased me that he had felt safe to share this information with me.
Near the end of our dinner conversation, with my heart already beaming in pride, my cousin said, “This is all because of you, Jessie. Do you remember that summer you taught me to read?” I smiled. I was smiling from the inside out. I took a deep breath and smiled bigger. “I remember.” I tried not to spill my tears at the dinner table in front of a 16 year old boy. I swallowed and then reminded him that he had worked very hard to become a reader and that I couldn’t have done it without him.
Jessika, what a moving story! It’s so very rewarding when we inspire our own loved ones to appreciate the written word. He’ll never forget you were the one to do that.
Thank you for sharing your story. It brought tears to my eyes!
In fourteen years of teaching I have met many young learners that have inspired and challenged me. In my many years at Waterford Memorial School (in Waterford, ME) one young lady stands out to me. She struggled so with reading, but wanted so much to read the books her classmates could. We practiced everyday, found buddies to read with in our classroom, set up times 2-3 days a week to work on skills that needed catch up. She even worked with me over the summer for several summers. She always smiled and always came ready to learn. Time passed and she went to middle school and high school.
I was running in a local road race and I hear “Hi, Miss Gardner!” I look over and there she is with a great big smile standing next to a friend waving like crazy. She had picked me out of over 100 runners and wanted to cheer me on.
It was another great moment to see her name on the student of the month sign at our high school for all to see. I remember getting goosebumps when I saw her up there. She had earned having her name in lights to recognize her hard work and positive attitude!
I now teach in the neighboring town of Harrison, ME and still appreciate the hard work and effort put in by the most struggling students.
Becky, your story on how students want to read the books their peers are reading, strikes a chord with me. I see this all the time in our middle school.
I love your student’s tenacity, working toward an important goal. And how special for you to see her name “in lights”!
Thank you for entering Becky! What a wonderful addition to the inspirational stories collected here.