This is my 9th year of teaching, and I have had some pretty amazing moments in teaching. There have been groundbreaking moments for me as a teacher that have kept me going through the general difficulty of the job.
That being said, yesterday was one of my best moments EVER, as a teacher. I was observed by/taught with my former third grade teacher, who is now a professor of education and an educational consultant. Ah-MAZ-ing day for me, and for him, I might add.
What have been some of your best moments in teaching? What keeps you going?
Seeing my students take off with their careers, when so many students of other teachers settle for something like singing in or playing for church choir, or not singing or playing at all.
Wow, there have been so many great, great moments. I can't really pick one.
I was moved last summer, though, during our visit to our partner school in Munich.
We were at the former concentration camp at Dachau (20 American kids, three chaperons) and the guide, a good friend of ours, was giving us a tour. He was speaking German and I could not really tell how much our kids were getting.
They were asking appropriate quests and responding appropriately, so I thought that most of them were doing pretty well.
Still, I was not sure.
And then, I saw a couple of our students tearing up a little.
All of a sudden, we had a quite a few doing so and a couple who were just plain sobbing.
The guide had said, "This is what happens when you stop seeing certain people as human beings."
Even in German, they got it and they were so moved, they could not contain their tears.
Just something about that remark just set them off.
Although I had known these high school students for several years, I had no idea they were so compassionate.
I was and remain so proud of them.
Thanks for asking.
> appropriate quests and
Oops, I meant "questions, " not quests."
the moments could fill a book. I think when a child 'gets' it, they've learned how to hold a pencil, write their name, start reading, show compassion and empathy to another student...
I live in the same community I have taught, so I see parents and students often. I just saw two of them with their parents at Starbucks, they're so big now! It's funny because sometimes the young ones think we live at school.
One time when I was at the grocery store, I saw one of my former students with her dad. He said how great she was doing in big school and then told me she had decided she wants to be a teacher like me when she grows up.
regardless of how difficult it can be at times, the rewards are often intangible.
i really admire teachers, i know many teachers and most of them rejoice at the moments their students can read and read well
I'm going to reply to my own, if that's OK...
I had a big moment in teaching a couple of months back, when a girl who had been a student at a school where I was teaching (not my student) joined my yoga class.
She had been homeless in her senior year of HS, when her (male) English teacher told me she had nowhere to go, and could I do something? She stayed the night with my mom (staying with me would have been unethical and illegal), and we found her a place to stay the next day through a local church. The family she stayed with drove her about half an hour to school every day for a month or two, and then when she graduated, she joined the armed forces (her plan all along).
I had gotten a letter from her when she was in Basic Training, but that was it. I got married a year later, moved, and changed my name. So when I saw her, saw that she was successful and married and healthy, and when she remembered me and still had a picture of the two of us, it did my heart so much good.
The big moment for me is when a student or a student teacher or a teacher (I am an administrator) or even a parent has an "Aha moment" because of something that I said or did.
I also love to push people beyond what they think they are capable of and then hear that someone (from the above mentioned group) share with me that they didn't know they had it in them to do what ever it was I challenged them to do. Now that's a big moment for me!
artlader, that's a very moving story. you must be very proud at moments like that. thanks for sharing.
Thank you, rebekahELLE,
Yes, it still moves me. Even the boys were getting very emotional.
You know,your post resonated with me.
It's often hard to know the impact we have on students.
You usually just go on faith, right? Just try to do a good job and be a good person and a good influence and hope for the best.
And then you find out about a picture a student has kept. The student still has that picture after all these years.
Well... The affirmation keeps you going, doesn't it?
Sorry, sorry, sorry, I got two posts mixed up!!!
(Slaps head and moans.)
You do usually just "go on faith," as you put it. My favorite prof used to say that teaching was a job where the benefits were retroactive. She clarified by saying that you never really know the impact you're having until much later. But little moments like these make it worth it.
Yes, true, Kotori. Smart professor.
One advantage of teaching in a pretty small town (30,000) and staying put for a couple or three decades is that you do often see your former students and their parents. Nice. And Facebook makes it so easy to stay in touch, does it not?
And one of the sweetest things about teaching a language is that you have students for several years. That is really great. You get to know the students and you can have an actual relationship with them. Can't beat that.
And then, if you are fortunate, you have these moments, as you so well put it, that do your heart good. :-)
Going on faith is essential at times. Teaching can be a strangely isolating job. I'm not sure if anyone aside from other teachers understand what I mean.
For me, highlights come with notes and e-mails from former students who are doing well. I had a note at the start of this year from a girl who never said a peep in class, but then told me that I "woke her up" and that before she had me as a teacher, she had been "sleepwalking" through her life. I almost dropped on the spot. I don't think she said more than a few words each week. It makes you wonder about how much impact you really have, doesn't it?
> It makes you wonder about how much impact you really have, doesn't it?
It sure does. You hit the nail on the head, shogan.
A note like the one you describe is priceless, is it not? Truly priceless. You really mean something to that kid.
Knowing the impact we have on young people makes me profoundly regret my first few years of teaching and every time I ever lost my temper, made some sarcastic remark or failed to notice when a student needed me.
How many opportunities to connect with a student did I miss, I wonder?
And I cringe thinking
I know, Art. I also wonder how many opportunities I continue to miss. It could make one go a little nuts, couldn't it?
Yes, it could.
Can't dwell on it, but have to learn from it.
Certainly! I agree with Art; don't dwell on it! Just keep noticing.
You know what's strange, though? It's so easy to make or miss building a bridge to a student:
* Why are you ALWAYS ABSENT? = probably no new connection to student
* I am a little concerned about your absences. Is everything OK? = maybe no connection, but very possibly the beginning of one
Right? Isn't it often just that simple?
Wow! What wonderful stories...and a great dialogue going on.
Our students are the reason why we return to work every single day. It's certainly not for the pay!
My two cents: Teaching is all about the relationships we build with our students and the inspiration we provide. Some of the best moments of my career happen long after the students have left my fifth/sixth grade classroom (as a former teacher) or my K-5 school (as a current principal). I have had the following happen to me several times...and it makes me smile!
Former students have found me on Facebook and "friended" me. They proceed to tell me that they vividly remember being in my class or school and what an impact I made on their lives. They have told me that I was their favorite teacher / principal and that I inspired them in some way. When I share facts I remember about them, like their favorite animal or their favorite sport, they are amazed that I still remember them in that light. That's what's rewarding for me.
I would agree with the rest of you as well that the "aha" moment when kids "get it" is also extremely powerful and keeps me going as an educator.
Judy, I think it's great you included the parents on the "aha" list along with students and teachers. I so relate!
Thank you all for sharing!
It's great that you mention Facebook, gypsumgirl.
FB can be dangerous for teachers. some have even lost their jobs because of what they have posted, haven;t they?
But I have never encountered a better way of keeping up with former students. It's simply amazing.
Art...I find FB as extremely useful for exactly what you mentioned...staying in touch with former students. To them, email is antiquated. Youngsters text these days and that's their mode of communication. In order to stay in touch and continue the wonderful relationships I think we need to stay "with the times" and use the same technology that our students use. They depend on social networking tools for communication with their friends and family.
Re: the teachers who have lost their jobs...I think anyone working in the pubic sector needs to use mental filters when posting on FB. I never post anything that might cause question about my character to readers. I simply use it as a networking tool and am very careful about who I "friend" and who has access to my information. I encourage my teachers to get on so they can connect with students, but I also ask them to proceed with caution.
I know you are right about their antipathy for email and the need to use the same technology the students use. You have to bait the hook to suit the fish, right?
And you have to behave on line the way you would in any public place, of course. You are right about that, too.
What about Skype? For a language teacher, Skype and other video chat apps is simply the best.
Teaching is such a rewarding career! I taught high school seniors, and I loved it when they came back to visit me and told me that I made a real difference in their lives. It was always great to see them become successful adults. I won numerous awards for teaching, but the ones I cherished the most were the ones decided by the students themselves.
> the ones I cherished the most were the ones decided by the students themselves
Yeah, that's the best, isn't it?
P.S. Am I hijacking this thread by responding over and over again? Is that a bad thing? If so, I'll quit it. I do not mean to be obnoxious.
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