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What Students Remember Most About Teachers

Dear Young Teacher Down the Hall,

I saw you as you rushed past me in the lunch room. Urgent. In a hurry to catch a bite before the final bell would ring calling all the students back inside. I noticed that your eyes showed tension. There were faint creases in your forehead. And I asked you how your day was going and you sighed.

“Oh, fine,” you replied.

But I knew it was anything but fine. I noticed that the stress was getting to you. I could tell that the pressure was rising. And I looked at you and made an intentional decision to stop you right then and there. To ask you how things were really going. Was it that I saw in you a glimpse of myself that made me take the moment?

You told me how busy you were, how much there was to do. How little time there was to get it all done. I listened. And then I told you this:

I told you to remember that at the end of the day, it’s not about the lesson plan. It’s not about the fancy stuff we teachers make — the crafts we do, the stories we read, the papers we laminate. No, that’s not really it. That’s not what matters most.

And as I looked at you there wearing all that worry under all that strain, I said it’s about being there for your kids. Because at the end of the day, most students won’t remember what amazing lesson plans you’ve created. They won’t remember how organized your bulletin boards are. How straight and neat are the desk rows.

No, they’ll not remember that amazing decor you’ve designed.

But they will remember you.

Your kindness. Your empathy. Your care and concern. They’ll remember that you took the time to listen. That you stopped to ask them how they were. How they really were. They’ll remember the personal stories you tell about your life: your home, your pets, your kids. They’ll remember your laugh. They’ll remember that you sat and talked with them while they ate their lunch.

Because at the end of the day, what really matters is YOU. What matters to those kids that sit before you in those little chairs, legs pressed up tight under tables oft too small- what matters to them is you.

You are that difference in their lives.

And when I looked at you then with tears in your eyes, emotions rising to the surface and I told you gently to stop trying so hard- I also reminded you that your own expectations were partly where the stress stemmed. For we who truly care are often far harder on ourselves than our students are willing to be. Because we who truly care are often our own worst enemy. We mentally beat ourselves up for trivial failures. We tell ourselves we’re not enough. We compare ourselves to others. We work ourselves to the bone in the hopes of achieving the perfect lesson plan. The most dynamic activities. The most engaging lecture. The brightest, fanciest furnishings.

Because we want our students to think we’re the very best at what we do and we believe that this status of excellence is achieved merely by doing. But we forget- and often. Excellence is more readily attained by being.

Being available.
Being kind.
Being compassionate.
Being transparent.
Being real.
Being thoughtful.
Being ourselves.

And of all the students I know who have lauded teachers with the laurels of the highest acclaim, those students have said of those teachers that they cared.

You see, kids can see through to the truth of the matter. And while the flashy stuff can entertain them for a while, it’s the steady constance of empathy that keeps them connected to us. It’s the relationships we build with them. It’s the time we invest. It’s all the little ways we stop and show concern. It’s the love we share with them: of learning. Of life. And most importantly, of people.

And while we continually strive for excellence in our profession as these days of fiscal restraint and heavy top-down demands keep coming at us- relentless and quick. We need to stay the course. For ourselves and for our students. Because it’s the human touch that really matters.

It’s you, their teacher, that really matters.

So go back to your class and really take a look. See past the behaviors, the issues and the concerns, pressing as they might be. Look beyond the stack of papers on your desk, the line of emails in your queue. Look further than the classrooms of seasoned teachers down the hall. Look. And you will see that it’s there- right inside you. The ability to make an impact. The chance of a lifetime to make a difference in a child’s life. And you can do this now.

Right where you are, just as you are.

Because all you are right now is all you ever need to be for them today. And who you are tomorrow will depend much on who and what you decide to be today.

It’s in you. I know it is.

Fondly,

That Other Teacher Down the Hall

Two of my former Kindergarten students enjoying a quiet moment together at Campbelton Beach, P.E.I.

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478 thoughts on “What Students Remember Most About Teachers

  1. I had a 5th grade teacher, think her name was Miss Merino. She constantly hounded me that my writing was terrible, and I needed to work on it–she never tried to help me. She had me so stressed that I tried every night, something different to improve my handwriting. My mother finally told me to do my best and not worry–it will fix itself in due time. My 6th grade teacher showed me one simple trick to good cursive writing, and my fears were gone. Yes, caring is the thing…..she was my favorite teacher because everything was done with caring and concern.

      • Whichever hand you use to write, shake it and let it rest in the air. You should be able to see from the V between your thumb and first finger to your third where your pen should comfortably fit. This will align your muscles for writing without tension. #2 is be a top downer, not a bottom upper when you write. (I taught 1st and 2nd grade for 12 years. When my students could print as well as I, I taught them cursive. Each year almost 2/3’s of the class was into cursive. I was so proud of them.

      • I so agree. Without the focus on children it becomes a dry, hollow experience. I am now retired and in the later years I plugged as much fun into all the tests, things we must teach. In so doing my children were engaged in what we were doing. It is indeed a lasting joy when a student yells at you across a parking lot to tell you something they have accomplished years after you taught them.

    • Oh dear dear,I almost teared. My son is in grade 3 and the teacher keeps saying his handwriting is terrible and every night he practices and ask me to help him. .the thingy is my handwriting was also and is bad and nobody ever told me where the mistake was.and please tell me the trick to cursive handwriting..sharon@wwildchildrepublic. com

    • Oh dear dear,I almost teared. My son is in grade 3 and the teacher keeps saying his handwriting is terrible and every night he practices and ask me to help him. .the thingy is my handwriting was also and is bad and nobody ever told me where the mistake was.and please tell me the trick to cursive handwriting..sharonatwildchildrepublicdot com

      • I was a first grade teacher. I would not stress about it. He will mostly type and print in real life anyway. One trick is to remember that it really helps to write the letters Top to Bottom, Left to Right, and “bump the lines to write it right”. This means, for example, cursive o starts on Top, curves to the Left, and sits nicely on the line. In printing, all letters are made of short lines (i), tall lines (t), circles (0) and half circles (c). In cursive, it’s not much different. Keep the slant consistent or else just don’t slant the cursive at all, and that works, too. Seriously, he will mostly type and print as an adult anyway. It’s OK. If the teacher is making this an Important Issue, try to remember that in the big picture, it is NOT.

    • Isn’t it sad that we can often recall all the details when we are hurt or frightened by an experience and the better memories where we felt valued in some way we don’t always recall the details or names of those involved!

  2. Great advice from Teacher down the Hall. Is that a picture of your kindergartners? If so, where is Campbell Beach ? I grew up on PEI and spent my summers on Cavendish Beach

  3. Attention readers coming from Changes Needed in Griffith Administration: did you know Bill Cope, the high school principal, has retired, and Brian Orkis is now the high school principal, with Dustin Nelson taking over full control of the middle school? None of these personnel moves have been announced publicly. Also, Mr. Nelson came from a D school. How is he going to turn around our middle school?

  4. I love the “What Students Remember Most About Teachers” and would like to recommend/share but please fix the error in line 61: “See passed the behaviors…” Should be PAST. Thanks!

  5. Mrs. Richards, my 3rd grade teacher more than 60 years ago in a one room school in Montana was and is the Best Illustration of these wonderful qualities of Great Teachers.

  6. One way that worked for me to both get things done and to spend time with my charges was to get them to help me make the bulletin boards….often with things we made together…or with their written work and drawings. ;) This worked even into high school years. But individual comments to each one, whether in the hall, the parking lot or at lunch makes your day better too. The more you know a child’s family situation, the easier s/he is to teach.

    • Great idea- many hands make light work. The bonus: down time with our ‘kids’. They need it, and so do we!! And I agree- knowing a child’s story sometimes makes all the difference. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thank you for putting these words into the world. I believe we must somehow be connected as my whole company is founded on helping teachers reach kids with authenticity, joy, and success- as each one defines it. Glad to read words of similar message! #Godblessourteachers

  8. Dear Veteran Teacher Down the Hall,

    I am the teacher you wrote about in your December letter for The Huffington Post. I’m not sure how you saw me from a country away, rushing urgently down the hall with tense eyes and a creased forehead. I am a first year teacher and it’s Friday afternoon. School ended over an hour ago but I’m still sitting at my desk trying to organize stacks of papers before I attend the school-wide poetry competition I’m helping host tonight. I was here until 7pm last night planning an intricate research unit and I won’t leave until at least 9pm tonight after I hear my students perform poems live.

    I found your letter and while I’m a couple months late, it does not fall on deaf ears. In fact, it falls on desperate ears. I have made it into second semester, but I’ve fallen into the abyss of winter blues. I can’t seem to remember the beginning or see the end, and your insight as a veteran teacher is what I need. I need you to tell me that they won’t remember the typo on page one of the research document I wrote. I need you to tell me that while my lesson on literary analysis is brilliant and differentiated that it won’t be the determining factor as to whether or not my students will succeed in analyzing literature for the remainder of their high school career. I need you to tell me that I can explain an assignment in three different, well-organized mediums that address all types of learners and that it’s okay that there will still be a student who raises his hand and asks, “So what are we supposed to do?”

    The perfectly placed desks and the intricate bulletin boards and the carefully chosen literature are things that I can control in the present. They make me feel put together in a career that, to be honest, can be complete chaos. But you are right; at the end of the day, I want my students to remember the individual comments I wrote in their writer’s notebooks, or the books I hand picked and bought for them to read, or the fact that I know something unique about each of my 85 students. I want them to remember that I can’t possibly love them anymore than I do.

    This morning I didn’t want to come to school. I woke up and for the first time I asked myself if this was what teachers mean when they say they “wanted to quit during their first year.” I knew I would arrive today to face two of my hardest, low-level classes. I didn’t know that within minutes of the 7:30 bell ringing I would have one student crying and that by second period drug-sniffing dogs would show up at my door during a school-wide lockdown. There are some days when I need you, that other teacher down the hall, to look at me, falling apart at the seams and tell me that there’s more to teaching than holding it all together in the present.

    My students make me laugh; they challenge me mentally and emotionally, and there are days when I feel they are able to both hold me up and break me down. I want so much for them to succeed that I carry their stories, energy, and frustrations on my back. They are pillars of potential, and they amaze me daily with their energy, vigor, and creativity.

    In the end, I need you to remind me that all my love and passion is worth something and that at the end of the day, I can go to sleep, wake up, and try again tomorrow.

    Fondly,
    The Young Teacher Down the Hall

    • Dear Friend: You have no idea how touched I am to read this letter- honestly. I just feel that if this letter was the only one I ever received- it would be all worth it. Thank you, thank you. I would love to have you write to me at my personal e-mail. My e-mail is lagard@edu.pe.ca. Please feel free- I am there for you, my friend! Keep on keeping on! Fondly, Lori

    • Dear New Teacher,
      I just retired after 36 years teaching 8th grade English. I wish I could tell you that it gets easier….maybe, after years. I do have to tell you that the first five or six years were exhausting, working around the clock. I thought about quitting after year three, but a very convincing principal keep me in my job. It has been the most splendiferously magnificent career…yes, it is a roller-coaster, but you are never alone. Students wrap you in so much love and encouragement in so many ways. Your colleagues are your support system; depend on them. The community will uphold you. God has His arms wrapped around you.
      You sound like a totally amazing young educator. Our children need you. Put one step in front of the other….and go day by day. God bless you.

    • Jacqueline,
      If you can find comfort in knowing you are not alone, let me assure you, you are not. I travel the US helping teachers and I see you in every place I go. I also used to see you when I looked in the mirror.
      You are courageous beyond belief and wonderful to have shared your story here.
      I hope you can feel many of us supporting your back, sending you strength, praying for wisdom and reassurance for you.
      Wynn

      • Wynn, I would love to go and help teachers out around my community. Do you do this on your own or through a district. I taught for 25 years in a low socio economic school in a large city in texas and loved every second of it!!! I would love to encourage others. Please contact me if you will. Thank you.

  9. My mind lets go a thousand things… like dates of wars and deaths of kings. But kindness from a teacher I remember. (No matter where or from whom I learned something)

  10. I was a late bloomer… I didn’t finish college & begin teaching until I was in my 30s. A few weeks ago, a former student posted a joke on my Facebook page, stating it reminded her of me. It was a bit off center, causing me to remark about leaving the wrong impression with her. What she said in return brought tears to my eyes. She replied that her impression of me was cemented during our first few days together in English 11, when she realized I was not one of those ‘cookie-cutter’ teachers; I was real. Then, she thanked me for that. Teaching is not about the money or the standards or any of the other nonsense the government & administration say it is. It’s about establishing a REAL connection with young people in order to improve their lives, in any small way possible. Thank you for this post on your blog.

  11. I simply love to teach! I have been teaching for 12 years now and have been the recipient of so many wonderful moments and memories. I now have a six year old who has a “newbie” for a teacher. I wish I could find a way to just tell her to breath and enjoy the career you have chosen. She is such an angry woman…

    • :( Anger comes through no matter who/what she is angry at.
      Perhaps in some of your interactions you will be able to model the beauty of teaching and help take down some of the walls of fear. Very often angry people are living in fear. Their fears of not measuring up are displayed as anger. Maybe that lens will help you to reach her.

      • I agree with this insight, Wynn Godbold. I also say that for those we find entrenched in anger, we must cover them with kindness and understanding. Sometimes a strategically given empathic note or an offering of verbal concern is all it takes to start bringing down the walls.

    • Send her this letter as a pick-me up. Maybe it will remind her of why she originally chose to teach- and perhaps it will be an encouragement to her. Tell her this teacher says, “Keep on keeping on!” Good luck, Heidi!

  12. I’ve been teaching college economics for 30 years and am in no hurry to retire. I still love being able to have an impact on students, get to know them, support them – and I look forward to going to work every day! My heart breaks for K-12 teachers, though, who are facing the ever-changing curricula, standards, assessments, evaluations, etc., and who are often not even treated like they are skilled professionals. I fear that these requirements are making it difficult to focus on meeting the real needs of their students, and as a result, we’re seeing the stressed-out teachers who are always living on the edge. Even veteran teachers find themselves with new preps every single year because of the continual changes. I am afraid for the future of our entire education system if we can’t restore teachers’ freedom to follow the wonderful advice given by this author.

  13. THANK YOU, TEACHERS….Once upon a time, I was a teacher. Then, I became a stay-at-home teaching-mom to our four daughters, and have even been blessed to spend time helping care for my two precious granddaughters. My kids have had so many WONDERFUL “TEACHERS” throughout the years…in classrooms, in Sunday School and Youth Groups, in volunteer organizations, and in camps (LOVE YOU, CAMP CAVETT), Girl Scouts, theatre groups, and wonderful pre-school experiences! Thank you, Teachers!
    God bless you in heaven, Mrs. Linda Austin and Mrs. Cathy Hudkins, who touched our lives so sweetly before God called you both home…far too soon.
    WE REMEMBER!!!!! LOVELY!!!!!

  14. Wow, what a fabulous article, and what a uniquely sweet and insightful conversation thread following it to stumble upon in the middle of the night.
    I actually woke up thinking about one of my fourth graders tonight, and I will slow down and reach out to him in a different way this week.
    In thinking about him and his interrupting behaviors, I realize I have been suffering from (I have a new term for it) — “D.A.D.” in the way that I keep browbeating him for the same behaviors -it’s me that has taken on the institution’s- “Deficit Attention Disorder”— always finding fault. I’m going to recognize the positives and look for ways out of the hurry and urgency of 31 kids to connect with him.
    Jeff

    • Thanks, Jeff. I was touched to read your very authentic response. This is what it is all about- transformation. If we can go forward each day determined to be better people than we were yesterday, then we are living up to who we were meant to be. Keep on keeping on, my friend!

  15. Hey Folks, I am not a teacher but am from a teaching family. One teacher (my sister) is also the teacher down the hall. She had two boys late in life and now is 45 with a six year old and 3 1/2 year old. I think she is in her 8th year of teaching now. Her first was born when her husband was overseas (army) and she was able to keep it together. Now, I volunteer in her child’s class and am able to do what I really enjoy as well as help her out in her class. But I gotta say, she runs around that school and knows every boy/girl in it. She makes it a point that everyone that walks (sometime runs:)) past her class is greeted by name. If someone in the lunchroom is without something, by George, they’ll have it if she knows about it! When you say desk, I don’t think she even knows if one is in her room. Everyone gets a pat on the back at the end of the day. She has stopped buses when boots have been left behind. Every student in class shares a personal story with her and they are listened too like no one else is in the room. But at the end of the day (who knows what time that is? I have heard very late), she still feels overwhelmed and questions herself.
    I tell her, do you remember the boy you told, “My son would really like that shirt you are wearing”? And at the end of the school year he wrapped it up and gave to you to give to your son? The kids love you, that’s why!

    • Oh, that story about the boy and the shirt was so sweet! Imagine the love that we as teacher could offer if we just made that the focus of our day. Thanks for inspiring us with your sister’s story!

  16. At an elementary school in a tiny rural town in Colorado, my 6’4 football coach / second grade teacher used to play checkers with us when it was too cold to go out for recess. My fourth grade teacher used to let us girls braid her long, beautiful hair and would join us in our crazy games outside. My dad died when I was in her class and she and the whole class sent me cards and letters.
    Among my high school teachers, there are three whom I still keep in touch with today, 22 years after graduating. I think teachers today, the truly good, caring ones, have such a hard job because all the junk our kids have to deal with spills over into school. Parent drama, peers who are into dangerous and destructive behaviors, all the garbage that even little ones are exposed to–all plays a role on what you can accomplish in the arena of learning. Then there are the kids who’s parents aren’t around, aren’t supportive and wouldn’t back you if you begged them. So to all the teachers who truly care about their kids, hats off to you. That is what your kids will remember and even kids who you think you haven’t made any headway with often feel differently inside, they just can’t express it.

    • Heather, thank you for sharing with us your memories as well as your insight into what makes great teaching! We need to remember that what we as teachers do is remembered, as you have shown us in this comment. Thank you.

  17. I think this quote says it all: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. So true!!!!

  18. I really love this, thank you for sharing :) I will share this on my own blog (Reblog). I’m studying to be a teacher and currently in my third year. It was great to read this.

  19. I am lucky to know so many brilliant teachers who are doing just that, really being there for the students in their care.

    I was also incredibly lucky to have some teachers of my own who went beyond just what the curriculum told them I needed to know and stood beside me during some of my most difficult days.
    It is that I remember, the space to just be, falling asleep in the corner of the 6th form block during a free lesson with no questions asked, a reminder that hope is there no matter how bleak it seems to get…

    So while I probably won’t ever have the opportunity to thank them for what they did, I wanted to take the chance to thank those of you who are doing the same today…
    You are changing the worlds of those young people you work with and while they might never tell you, cause you headaches and sometimes feel like you’re hitting a brick wall, you are making a difference and I’m glad to know you’re there!

  20. As a veteran teacher of 23 yrs, I remember well being the new teacher, the jaded teacher, and now the veteran teacher. I have had years where I have wanted to pull every last hair out of my head – regardless if it was because of the administration or the students. I have done the late nights and early mornings, the PTA programs, Science Fair, and school fund raisers. The memories flood back after reading these comments. A few years ago, for Teacher appreciation, the students started making pages for a booklet what they like and enjoy most about their teacher. It brings me to tears every year as they have made it clear that sharing ‘me’ with them is what they have loved best.

    To the new teacher down the hall ~ whomever you are, welcome to one of the best and most rewarding yet toughest professions there is or will ever be. Be prepared to give your summer vacations, you evenings, and your weekends to be all you can be for your students, and at some point, you realize you would not have it any other way. When they come back 2, 5, 10 or more years later and hug you, be prepared for the tears when you see how much they have grown and how well they have done.

  21. I actually am shaking my head because I personally don’t have time to make boards anymore. They are all covered with the Common Core standards that must be posted in the formal language and in language the students understand. I have been teaching almost 20 years and if you let a kid touch your hair now….LAWSUIT! As I am up there teaching all the wonderful components of Common Core, I smile at my students and give them sincere feedback on their work but don’t you dare get too involved in their actual lives. I am exhausted working 70 hours a week to meet the individual learning needs of my students that must be documented in 15 different ways but I won’t let the politics stop me. I may end up like two co-workers though and die right in front of my class. And yes, that is true. Check it out….Chattanooga Tennessee.

    • Eleen, this story is breaking my heart. My friend, I am so sorry. May you find community in this place here- and might we be a support for you. Please remember your calling- your heart for those precious children. You have it in you to do this. You’re an amazing teacher- keep on keeping on, my friend!

    • Ellen,
      You need a HUG…we are all in the same boat. CC and politics will kill all of us if we let them. DON’T …..keep your eyes and heart on what’s important YOURSELF and the KIDS.

    • Ellen, thank you for sharing your story with us. Our hearts go out to you- I can’t even imagine. I am so sorry about these two co-workers of your’s. I just can’t even find the words to express adequately what I feel. Please know that we collectively understand that this work we do- it is not a job. It is a calling. You are doing important, valuable things for your students, Ellen. It matters- and so do you. We believe in you, Friend. Keep on keeping on.

  22. Thank you for this. I hope that teaching assistants are remembered too (I am one and absolutely love it.) Here’s to Mrs Rensburg, my cookery teacher in High school. She taught me to cook, was so encouraging and brought much fun, laughter and faith to her lessons. I still remember some of the things she said to us. She even prayed with us before our final practical exam (there was much freedom in the school I went to in Africa) Totally amazing teacher.

    • I love my dear friends who are co-teachers alongside me- our wonderful Educational Assistants. You women and men are awesome- so caring and giving! I have a wonderful lady in my class right now- Mrs. Knox. She amazes me with her perseverance, drive and compassion. I have learned so much watching her interact with our amazing students. Thanks for your letter!

  23. Pingback: What Students Remember Most About Teachers (Rebloged) | Confessions of a First Year Teacher

  24. I work with Teachers. I have worked about 24 years of my life as a Custodian in 2 different school Districts. Over that time i have seen many many things. Some amazing some sad. I have seen Teachers who are burnt out i have seen teachers who are not supported by Money controlled Administrators. Then i have Seen Teachers Who are Remarkable Beyond Words ones who still Care ones who INSPIRE Students to Reach their Dreams. There are Fewer today than ever. I don’t know if we can turn it around i hope we can We must for the sake and the future of our children’s education. With out Teachers who have Heart and Passion for their Career we are so going to be Lost. At Times i feel politics and policy have made things so dark for teachers and students there is no Light in this Darkness. That said i hold out faith that there are still great Teachers there are great people still left in education to save the future. I see it everyday the good still outweighs the bad. The Special Teachers outshine the ones who have burnt out or given up. I do what i can myself i feel its a thing we must all do in schools Reach out and inspire the kids of today show them someone cares about them and their futures. Sorry if i did not punctuate or spell 100% perfect some of my teachers gave up on me long time ago still i was lucky to have a few who inspired me to keep trying even if others had given up on me. I salute all Teachers who everyday try to inspire the students in their classrooms. One Last thing i recall Telling a Teacher who was going into Administration I said “Remember what made you Special and Remarkable in the Classroom. I feel So many Great Teachers get away from the classroom and forget whats important and why they are here. Never lose that focus or passion that kids come first”

    Thanks For your Time and Sharing your Amazing Message

    Dan

    • Dan, I just loved that you took the time to write me this message! I have a very special place in my heart for school custodians- the ones I have known are the lifeblood of our schools! They are able to have their finger on the pulse of the school, even when teachers are not able to be around and observe things- the custodians are there to ensure things keep ticking along. My hat is off to you! Thank you for caring so much- we need more people like you in our schools. Bravo!!

      • Lauren Thank you for sharing this amazing story. I do all i can to inspire the students at my school and others. I will have this year about $2500-3200 in Scholarships going out to 3-5 students at 2 local high schools 90-95% of that is my money out of my pay checks. It’s my dream someday in my Life/Career to give a student a full year of College Paid for maybe even 4 years something to make one or many students reach for something they might have given up on Inspire them to Learn. If we can give a Legacy of Compassion and Kindness to the students of today. We can do so many remarkable Things. The People who work with the students of today cant let Administrations destroy the Classroom, We cant Let allow Politicians to Destroy the spirit of the great Teachers still working with us today, And We must not let Unions having their greedy hands in everything that effect the students when they care for nothing more than MONEY like the District powers that Be!!! Teachers/Students should always come first! The Task is daunting at times. still if we give up who will be the last defense for the future. The students of today need inspiring Teachers like many i have read on this blog to show them the way. Be the light be the change Never Give UP!!! I tell you i was one of those students who wanted to give up i wanted to die in school. I am far from perfect i am Flawed. That Said I have hope and faith while Still Believing we can be remarkable again and inspiring always!!!!!! Thanks Dan

      • Dan, you have blown me completely away with your eloquent words of inspiration. You absolutely knock my socks off! Have you been publicly recognized for your invaluable work? You are an absolute HERO, my friend. No other word for it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your life and story with us. You are amazing! Dan, would you ever feel you could share your story with us- the story of you as a student? I would really love to hear it. Again, I just want to thank you for your comments here. All I can say is, “WOW!” You ROCK!

      • Lauren i typed up a very nice and humble reply and it did not post and i lost it so sorry. I wanted to thank you for your very kind words. I am humbled you asked me to share my story. I would be honored so i will try. Please understand my childhood was not my high point in life so be patient and give me time i will work on it. this reply much shorter than the one lost. thanks again being called a Hero is something i have been told before by students and by others the kids even made me a cape. That has been the defining point in my life to this point. I don’t consider myself a superhero or a role model. I do respect and embrace the title and understand that it comes with a standard of excellence that i strive for everyday. I believe if the students see something in me i can also in time. Thanks again i will work my journey through schools for you to share with others i would hope it inspires Teachers to always believe even the ones who seem lost can change the world given hope and encouragement in the right places even if you don’t hear it now today in your classrooms what you all do is truly the most important job in the world. <3 Thank You All….. Dan

    • Dan: I’m glad you appreciate some of your teammates in education.

      That being said: Who made you the arbiter of what teachers do and don’t care? It’s pretty easy to level a charge of uncaring at someone. What can they do to defend against that? It’s all opinion. Burn out does not mean a lack of caring. We aren’t all on our A game every day and we don’t have to be. We just have to do the best we can each day (like everyone else). We’re not magicians. You need certain tools to effectively do your job and the same goes for us.

      • Thanks Gabriel for dropping in and adding another perspective to the conversation. I guess when it comes to education, we all have a stake. And we all have a voice. But we do have to remember, as you have pointed out- teachers (as are all people) are human beings and we (as teachers) must be given grace to make mistakes. Thank goodness for that- I don’t know where I would be without it! Keep on keeping on, Gabriel!

    • Dan. Thanks for sharing your story. Of my 8 years of grade school the most kind and caring person I remember was the custodian.

      • Kelly, I am really sad to read this. Happy that a custodian was so kind, but sad to read that teachers were not. I am sorry that this was your story. It ought not be this way.

  25. Reblogged this on and commented:
    When I was a high school teacher overseas, I was trying really hard to understand the principle of being the “teacher”. This article surely inspired me to know that the Lord placed me at the right position. Knowing students could make the difference in the life of an adult, that ought to be the gift from Him.

  26. I’ve been teaching for almost 50 years. No, I don’t feel burned out yet. I love Mondays and Tuesdays, etc. What warms my heart is that I have so many old students who email me, found me on facebook, call me, and tell me what they loved the most about me as their teacher. It’s all about caring about them, accepting them for what they were, praising with honesty, being there for them and giving them support when they needed it . In truth, I have received more than I have given and am thankful for the years I have spent in this wonderful profession.

  27. I’m all about building relationships with my fourth grade students and feel it is my strength. Unfortunately, in addition to taking time to really listen to my students and respond in appropriate ways that make them feel valued, I I’m forced to spend hours upon hours trying to keep up with government imposed mandates that are NOT in our students’ best interest. It is utterly impossible to “relax” in the current educational climate when you have to watch a dear little boy who is making progress in his reading (at a first grade level), yet be forced to take a standardized test at a fourth grade level…..with NO RESOURCES. INFURIATING AND DISHEARTENING.

  28. Thank you for this!! I started my first teaching job 4 weeks ago and am often running around campus utterly exhausted. I want to be perfect and needed the friendly reminder that that is not the most important thing.
    Thank you!

  29. Thanks, I needed that meaningful letter and all the replies that followed. Tomorrow’s Monday with a new week ahead. A new start….

  30. My daughter-in-law is one of those fantastic caring teachers. I wish she could read these comments. My favorite teacher in grade school was the toughest teacher at grading but also the kindest person to a new kid in the school. I am sure since I am an old women she is gone but if she can see this from heaven. “Bless you Mrs. Cook” hugs.

  31. I have never been so chocked up by an article except for this one! Thank you so much because you said it so eloquently. I just love to teach…teach biology…from Pre-school to 12 grade to Higher Ed! I have been at it for well over 30 years and I hope I will continue…. Teaching is such great and lasting joy…To all teachers, focus on our children!
    I have been able to share my experiences in two recently published books…

  32. I am overwhelmed in year 17. My class is over-full. My school is disorganized and the district expects changes in the reportcard, reading and math curriculum, and better instruction while taking 10 minutes of contract time away from us each day. This time is redistributed to collaboration days where some of my peers summarize the training they have recently attended. If I had any way in the world, I would quit. I can’t feel what you have written and have no one to share that with. My new strategy is to stay in my room at lunch, that’s all I have to hold onto until June.

    • Lauren, please write to me at my email address- I would like to carry this conversation on. I am here for you, my friend! We can do this together. Here is my e-mail: lagard@edu.pe.ca I appreciate that you shared your story with all of us: that is the first step. We’ll take the next step together. Keep on keeping on- today is the only day we have to live fully in. Let’s live it well…HUGS going out to you, Lauren.

  33. A great article. What is sad is that you are preaching to the choir. I teach pre-k, and this year, my school has been all about higher student achievement and maximizing learning. Fun is gone. Spending individual time with students is gone. My classroom is packed with 25 students. It is quantity over quality, but make sure all of your students are having maximum success. Parental support, home situations, and student mental / emotional readiness are not taken into account. My ultimate goal is student success, but I have to do that while following my administrator’s unrealistic expectations, which brings about burn out so quickly.

  34. Pingback: What Students Remember Most About Teachers | TPS Lower School Faculty Blog

  35. Wow… Thank you so much for this! As young 22 year old first year teacher, I definitely needed this reminder. This definitely brought tears to my eyes and reminded me why I went into teaching!!

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  37. Every word out here is true.
    Looking back, i just remember all those wonderful teachers who had time for us, who talked to us, who made us think that the world is real and it is beautiful and tough in its own way and that it is beautiful enough to love it and tough enough to be strong facing.it.
    I could relate to all those moments that made me sad and happy, all those moment with all those wonderful teachers they are alive in my memories. I do not remember anything real bad from school and i am happy that my memory choose to ignore them. :)
    That was a wonderful post. Thank you.

  38. Teachers touch hearts and change lives! I know first hand. I was inspired to teach by the support and compassion shown to my children after my first husband died many years ago. Their elementary school was amazing! It put its arms around us and surrounded us with love. I have now been teaching for 14 years, and am remarried to a career switcher who teaches high school. We have three kids at university who intend to be teachers, and two who coach high school. Our world revolves around education. We live moderately, have mountains of student loans, and grouch about national teaching “fads”. However, we are passionate about teaching, and the people we come into contact with everyday – the students, the staff, the parents. You never know how much someone might need a smile, or encouragement, or somebody in their corner…

  39. I am a 35 year old college student. I am studying to teach high school English. Thank you for this. I imagine that I will find myself in this predicament and I will think back to this moment.

  40. Me too! I needed the box of tissues for this one! Thank you for reminding us of the impact that we have on our students every day. It is such a gift to be given this kind of responsibility.

  41. My favorite teachers have taught me the following that have helped me manage my work: 1) There really is no need to grade every little thing and give feedback, 2) Group projects with peer-to-peer evaluations are more efficient for grading and motivating for students than individual projects, 3) Force yourself to keep a timer for how much you’re willing to look at papers, 4) Sometimes less feedback is more, especially when students only remembers a few things. DON’T overwhelm them (and yourself) with feedback. 5) In-class group-work or single work can be opportunities to do some minor grading 6) You create your own busywork when giving students busywork.

  42. I have enjoyed all the comments. The weather has caused a week away from school, but I cannot wait to return. Teaching is my only career. There have been two other jobs during the past years, but teaching is what I choose to do at this time in my life. Going back to college at the age of 61, after 45 years, was not an easy task, but it was not impossible. ny dear husband was very supportive, both financially and emotionally. Now at almost 68 teaching first grade, I don’t even consider retirement. There is no other feeling of accomplishment like reading to a child in a way that captures their imagination and triggers thoughts and ideas that they are truly bursting to tell you. So many times I think, “so many children and so little time.” It’s then that I remember to take one day at a time, keep smiling, and remember what I can be to those children who come to my classroom today.

  43. I will never forget my first teacher, Virginia Paitsell. Roanoke County Schools……..September 1958. I was a scared little six year old girl at Mount Vernon Elementary. In less than three weeks, she had transformed me into a well adjusted engaged learner. With her beautiful loving skills, Mrs. Paitsell had me reading fluently by November. I loved her then and still do……..I saw her last month in a nursing home and prayed with her, thanking God for her excellent leadership. By the way, I became a first grade teacher and was so very blessed to be able to open up the world of reading to hundreds of kids……..1974-2013. God is good. Lynne Varney Thrasher in Virginia

  44. I was a senior in an honors program at a huge (3000 students) high school. My English College Prep teacher was a terror. She was old, white-haired, and extremely strict. One day, for the first time in my academic career, I neglected to write an essay. I don’t know why — I’d always been a pretty good writer. Then I did something else for the first time — I skipped the class. I was so stupid that I went to my favorite English teacher (Creative Writing) and just walked in and sat down in her class. She was a little surprised, but greeted me and continued to teach the class.
    Of course, the Creative Writing teacher reported me, and I was sent to detention for the first time in my life. It was okay–we silently did homework for an hour–but I was horrified that I had somehow gone so far astray. I felt that I had ruined my reputaion and chances for future success. I worked so hard in my English classes that I blew everyone away. On the last day of school, the teacher apologized to me for turning me in! I was shocked! Why should she apologize? It was my fault.
    Over the years, I’ve often thought about this incident. I guess what I learned from it was that I owowed

  45. I owed the people who had raised, nurtured, and educated me more than I would ever be able to fully appreciate. I still had a long, long way to go before I began to really understand what I owed to others, but over time, step-by-step, I have learned and tried, in my teaching, to repay, if not those teachers, at least those whom I am priveleged to teach.

  46. Along with a personal relationship, helping them to build confidence in themselves and their abilities and to look at the world with positivity and humor is also muy importante!
    Cathy – a longtime educator 😀

  47. I retired after teaching special education for 36 years and agree completely. It’s important to have a relationship with each of your students, to listen to them, and care about them. When you care for and respect your students they will respect you. If you develop this type of relationship there will be fewer behavior or discipline problems. When there is a problem it is easier to deal with because of the mutual respect. Also doing fun activities or events is important. Students remember the fun things and the lessons they learned in completing them. The problem comes in with all the mandated testing. Everything that is done must be directly related to the core curriculum and documented. Everything on the test must be taught and documented that it’s been taught. Test results have been used to determine a teachers competence and may result in dismissal. Test results may also determine the teachers pay. Where has the fun gone?? Since every skill has to be documented the pressure is on to make sure it’s all covered. Can you afford to break from your plan to listen to a troubled child or an excited child with a story to tell? I had very few days that went as I had planned. There were too many other important things to address with my students. I wanted them to feel good about themselves, to know someone cared, to know they could succeed, to know they could talk to me about problems and issues, and to know they were a worthwhile human being. Some of my students didn’t have positive experiences at home so they had to have them at school. I also was/am involved with Special Olympics where my students would have positive experiences and grow.

  48. When all the stress of the new mandates start to overwhelm me, I remember that most important things that I teach are not included in the standards. I teach kindness, compassion, love, and respect by demonstrating kindness, compassion, love and respect.

    • Edwina Thank you Thank you!!!!!! Compassion and Kindness have been lost in schools. I try hard everyday doing something with both compassion and kindness i try to tell the kids who practice it that they are amazing and such a breath of fresh air in our schools. We need more staff like in our schools to change the world and show kids that they can change the world also…………………….

  49. Thank you, as I sit here in tears. I want to copy this but my computer raged war on me— it won, so I can’t print this. I. Am using Jenn’s tablet at the moment. I may not have my computer again for 3 weeks. Thank you Sara! This made me feel so good Karen Domsich

  50. My favorite teacher and the only one I truly ever felt believed in me was Mrs. Browning at Crums Lane elementary school in Louisville, Ky. The only other one that ever came close was Mr. Peebles in middle school. I never got to tell her what she meant to me, but I hope she knew. She stayed after school, kept me in at recess and even came knocking on my door one evening to give my parents some info on a math program she thought may help me. I was so angry! Lol She was determined I would not be held back and that I would leave 3rd grade knowing how to multiply and divide. You see I was the quiet kid, the one that had something wrong, but it wasn’t visible. She looked past that. She didn’t let me use it as an excuse. I had a severe seizure disorder, to see me now you may not believe it, but I was on three different medications for seizures. She cared about me, and I loved her. Thanks to her I work with children myself and I find myself gravitating to those that need the extra attention. I agree above all else children need to know you care. That is what they remember.

  51. I wish I experienced teachers like this. The teachers I have encountered in grade school were nothing but negative and rude. I believe that elementary teachers are the ones that have a major influence on the children, rather than high school teachers. I was never a good student and I believe it was mainly because my teachers were so discouraging and always told me indirectly that I would never succeed. Well, I’m a sophomore in college now majoring in Nursing and made the Dean’s List. So to any teachers reading this, never underestimate a child and their abilities. Some children just need that extra push or encouragement to succeed. Don’t ever give up on a child that’s struggling, that’s the worst you could do for them. Help a child that’s struggling and that will stick with them forever.

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  53. One of my coworkers and I were having a discussion about how some of our fellow staff members have lost the joy of teaching-the true purpose of teaching, making a difference in students’ lives. Thank you for sharing your message!

  54. I taught for over 25 years, and rarely had the prettiest bulletin boards, neatest classroom, or straightest rows. I used being a “man teacher” as my excuse. My desk was usually a mess, and the principal’s secretary always reminded me when things were due. I never felt guilty. I loved teaching my fifth graders, and miss it every day. I put 95% of my emotional energy into being there. Yes, my apparent lack of organization caused me occasional differences with administration, but it was a small price to pay for the joy of teaching I never lost. I was as excited to say “Good Morning” to my students, that last year of school, as I was my first year of teaching. Now, thanks to Face Book, so many former students have sent me pictures of their children (and grandchildren )-: and their fond memories, that I don’t regret a single thing I did, or didn’t do. Be real, be sincere, be empathetic, BE THERE!

  55. I loved my second grade teacher, mrs. Harris, at Edgemont Elementary in Covington, va. She took me under her wing, pushed and loved me, right up into the “higher” second grade class. Her daughter, Becky, and I were best friends. My third grade teacher there, Ms. Sprouse, oh, how I loved her, even when she scolded me. I spent hours at her house, down the street, two streets over. Our Bible Class teacher, was young, and I feel remorse that I can’t recall her name. I helped her at her house prepare for each class, I thought, but, she was helping me, instead. My sith grade teacher, Mrs. Fitzgerald, at Dunlap, then at Callaghan, was special, too. So special, in fact, that I stole my Momma’s broach and gave it to her as a gift. When my son had her, in the seventh grade, she carried that broach to school and showed it to him. “Your Momma gave me this when she was in sixth grade.” At Covington High, my gym teacher, Ms. White, took me under her wing. My Momma died, 1966. This was the year after Momma died. Then, Ms. White passed away, also from cancer. This broke my heart. I recall these teachers, because, they weren’t “teachers”. They were special, because, unlike my other teachers, these special ones, they were like a Mother to me, as they taught. Not like Daisy Greenway, Ms. Craft, Mrs. Smith, who were book teachers. My special teachers, taught with their hearts. My seventh grade teacher, Mr. Banton, he taught all us girls how to tie a tie, he said it would be our JOB to know how to do it right,lol. I quit school in the tenth grade, because, none of the teachers cared. It was all book learning, and no heart. They were burned out, I suppose. Thank you all you wonderful teachers, who put your heart in your lessons, not your frustrations.

  56. Wow, this post makes me feel both guilty and inspired. I have been in a bit of a teaching rut this year, and as a music teacher, I know I’ve sometimes focused on the performance more than the kid. While it’s challenging for me to make and maintain meaningful relationships with all my students, this is such a good reminder to be more accessible.

  57. Mrs. Margaret Ellinger, Clinton Elementary in Clinton, MD was one teacher that impacted me deeply. I came to school bragging about a visiting friend of the family who was doing math two levels above her grade, which seemed to pique Mrs. Ellinger. She then looked through my testing in her drawer and told me, “Well, you are reading FOUR grades above your grade level!” Her standing up for me that day really made an impact on me. She was strict, but fair and taught us well. I’ll never forget her taking interest and speaking up for me. I’ll also never forget my fifth grade teacher who read books to us every day after lunch. She helped me learn to love reading. I was fortunate to have many teachers that would engage with their students and encourage strengths and talents.

  58. If only the increasing demands with testing and the Core Curriculum would decrease, many would again feel the joy in teaching. So many teachers I know today are stressed and burned out. I’ve never seen it so bad in 30 years in education.

  59. This is very good, but I’m wondering how a spelling error in the first sentence could get past the editor(s). It should be “rushed past me” not “rushed passed me”.

  60. Need to send this to my son’s gr 6 teacher, he’s a tyrant. There’s not a day that my son doesn’t come home frustrated with him. This man is very spiteful and mean, lacks empathy, will shame a student in front of the class for petty things. He is a bully teacher. Can’t wait for the year to end. Will be giving this man a very very bad review!!

    • I am so very sorry- again, these types of stories should not be told about people in a caring profession such as teaching. Please hang in there- and I do hope there are supports in place for your son to get him through. Give your son a hug from me- wish I could look him in the eye and tell him that he’s going to be okay. Grade 6 was a tough year for my son too. I feel for you- I really do. Keep on keeping on…and hang on tight. Find the right people to talk to and get some help for your son- as well help for this teacher, if it is possible.

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  62. I think it is so important to use correct grammar when we post. If we make mistakes it undermines our message, the word rushing past should be used not rushing passed.
    Just my observation when resumes are sent. I was hired by the Spring Lake, Nj school system partially because I spelled fourth grade correctly.

    • This mistake has been fixed, actually. Sometimes one has to go through hoops so as to correct typos and this mistake took almost three weeks to correct! Thanks for pointing it out to me! I would hope, however, that one’s message would be equally as important as one’s mistakes. Thanks, Friend! Keep on keeping on!

  63. I teach 5th grade science, it is my first year. I’m 27 and got into this profession because of wonderful teachers like you all have described. When I was in 3rd grade i developed some orthopedic issues which required 3 operations over the next 3 years and I remember, mrs. Seibert would not quit on me or let me quit on myself. I grew up poor, with one parent and a brother. We endured one drunken boy friend after another. When that happened to me, and it was another teacher who saw me limping that actually got it noticed, I almost gave up. My mom did ab amazing job for her position, worked 3 jobs and never missed a school play. But mrs. Seibert, she was so strict and would not accept anything but my best from me. She made me redo countless assignments until she felt i did my best. I missed 48 days of school, enough to be held back, but she went to bat for me and i went onto 4th grade achieving straight a’s. The last week of school we had our award assembly and she surprised me with her annual award to the student who endured, persevered, and excelled against all odds. It was a book of poetry, where the sidewalk ends by shel silverstein, and she cried as she handed to me and said, “thank you for sharing my courage and for teaching her how to smile through tears and for reminding her why she was there”. I have that book on my library shelf, it has been taped and repaired so much from me reading her words on the inside and i go to it each time i need courage. I love poetry and writing because of her, and i work in the same district as she does now. I wrote her an 11 page thank you letter. She is my hero and inspiration.
    It is a struggle working heart into each lesson and trying to match it to a standard that just isnt there. Thank you to all of my teachers. I was blessed to have more positive than not.

    • I love that last challenge you have given us- to “work heart into each lesson, matching it as we do (so as to maintain the status quo) to a certain standard” May we all find ways to find the heart in each and every interaction we have with our students- both younger and older! Keep on keeping on!

  64. Reblogged this on Live, Learn, Travel, Teach and commented:
    Thanks Aunt Pearl for sharing this. Its an excellent read for any teachers, especially new teachers struggling with the stress and workload. Whenever you feel like you are overwhelmed take a minute and breath. Remember why you became a teacher and embrace that love within yourself. Know that you have already made a difference and the positive influence that you create has no limit!

    I’ve dealt with a lot of stress and crappy situations in my first 6 months teaching abroad. But I haven’t let awful administration, paycheck woes or anything else interfere with how I respond to my students. I still show them as much love and care as possible and know that while their young memories of me may fade, the impact I have had on their character will last forever.

  65. I love this! I’m currently in my 5th year working in the classroom but only 2nd year as a certified teacher. I also happen to be teaching abroad and dealing with an assortment of other issues in that department. In my few years as a teacher I’ve had my limits tested innumerable times and always bounce back. Usually with the help of a veteran mentor and words similar to what you’ve shared with the world here.
    Thank you for writing and sharing!

  66. Reblogged this on Mr C says… and commented:
    There is a lot of truth in this about the stresses of teaching and there is also a lot of truth in this when it comes to understanding what students like about their teachers. It’s such a shame that the idea of teachers being compassionate, kind, transparent, real, thoughtful and being themselves is frowned upon so much by the powers-that-be. It seems more and more that schools and education authorities want teachers to be detached from their students as much as possible, focussing on delivering content but taking no real interest in the students themselves, which is great pity.

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  70. The teacher I remember most was in high school. Sophomore English Ms. Doyle trying to get the class more involved she would stand up on her desk reading Shakespeare, bring in items from her own life that might bring a connection to whatever other lesson we were working on. This was before the movie Dead Poets Society came out. More than 25 years later she is still teaching in the same school & is on facebook reconnecting with many of her past students sharing our memories from her classes.

  71. At the end of the day, it’s not about the subject matter, it’s about the kind of human beings we help the students become.

      • I’m a high school teacher from Melbourne, Australia. Our student welfare coordinator sent it around to everybody and our Principal liked it enough to read it out.

  72. My mother was an elementary school teacher for many years in Shawnee, Ok. Even after she retired she would hear from past students. Graduation announcements, wedding invitations, Christmas cards, letters to let her know how they were doing, you name it. When she died some of her past students came to her funeral. Those kids were touched by the way my mom treated them and taught them. She’s always been an inspiration to me as well. She loved teaching and it showed.

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  74. What I remember is my “young, newly married” fourth grade home room teacher took all the kids on an outing except for me. They went to the Chicago Water Filtration Plant and other neat places, a couple kids at a time. She told me at the end of the year she was sorry she hadn’t gotten to me and would in the summer. Nope, never happened. No one ever knew but the two of us. As soon as she announced she was doing this in class, I knew it would never be my turn. I just knew.

    However, we also had a nun, Sr. Annella, who taught reading and English and spelling, who made us memorize our spelling words in order. She made us get our assignment notebooks signed every night. She taught me how to memorize. She told the class they would hate it now but be thankful ever after. A classmate who became a teacher hated her and told me memorization is the lowest form of learning in an attempt to disparage Sr. Annella’s teaching. To me that means it is a basic skill you need to build upon. As a lawyer, I have a fantastic memory which I rely upon every day.

    I appreciate the dedication of Sr. Annella, B.V.M. of St. Gertrude’s School more than she will ever know. I remember her as my 4th grade teacher. I remember how hard it was, how I learned to figure out what number I would be in line so I only had to learn that many words, I remember practicing at home, developing the skill. I remember how she was dedicated to her task, and never thanked. She cared by teaching, not by “caring”.

    I saw the other teacher post on my classmate/teacher friends’ facebook — how nice. I did not post telling her that cute Valentine picture of her with a couple of girls from my class was as phony as she was. Do your job, love your job and let the rest take care of itself. It isn’t about whether the kids like you – it is whether they have learned from you. Character counts.

    Sr. Annella is the one who counts in my book.

    • Kathy, I hardly know what to say. First of all, I know this is so cliche, but I am sorry. Really. I wish stories like this one didn’t exist in our memories. But they do- I know- because they live on in mine too. Truly it does matter that this “younger” teacher wasn’t authentically caring. Caring must be authentic and consistent to be truly caring. Obviously, she has left an impact on you- in unfortunately a negative way. She wasn’t truly caring and sensitive- or she would have shown evidence of making some kind of an effort, in the form (at the very least) of an apology. Let this be a “heads up” to those of us in the teaching profession that children have very long memories- and our word must be kept. For they will hold us to our promises. So should they, by the way. So should they. Kathy, I do understand this feeling this younger teacher has left you with- I’ve had people in my own life that have let me down in some very similar ways. I am sorry that the child in you is still hurting to some degree- the child inside of me has some similar memories and “she” will always carry them with her throughout the remainder of her life. With regards to your Sr. Annella: I believe that she cared for you in dedication to academic learning- but I think you might be shortchanging her to say that was the only way she cared. Tough love is still love. She sounds to me to have been a teacher who showed no partiality: that’s worth something in my books toward a caring spirit. She also was persistent in believing the best of you. Think of where you are now. Is it solely because she saw you as a receptacle for her vast knowledge? Or did she see you as a person with potential? I believe only you can truly answer these questions, but certainly in the picture you paint of Sr. Annella, she appears to reflect that kind of teacher who was memorable. And in so doing, you will certainly remember her for her remarkable influence (regardless of whether or not she was nice.) I do hope that you have not taken from this letter I wrote that teaching is all about being “nice’. I am a parent to four children: I am not always nice. But I love them- I care for them deeply. And I would go to the ends of the earth to see their potential reached. In some of those same ways, I am a teacher. I do care deeply for my students. I believe in them. It’s not about the classroom organization, the decor or the bells and whistles for me- it’s about what those students mean to me. I believe in them. Kathy, I think your Sr. Annella is a kindred spirit of mine: she believed in you. And that’s just about the best a teacher can do for her students. All the best, my friend.

    • I agree with you that being a teacher is about ensuring that your students are learning. But I think having the relationship with them is key to that learning. It has to be a combination of caring about that lesson plan and teaching the best lesson you can, and making sure you have the relationship and the empathy. v

    • I somehow think that the newly married teacher didn’t actually intentionally want to exclude you from the trips. She didn’t, at the outset, specifically plan to exclude you just because she’s mean. Perhaps your parents would not give permission. Perhaps you were emotionally disturbed, or having ADD which may hinder from taking you places, fearing your parents would not allow this anyway. I had a Maths teacher, who was hell-bent on singling me out to do calculations in front of the class, everyday. But she l remember most because she pushes me further to be good at Maths. Different teacher impacts us differently , and you should thank even the bad teachers, as they have shaped you into who you are. So l say, be grateful people actually were your teachers, the good and the mediocre. Live a positive life,lawyer!

  75. Thank you for this post. I’m that teacher this year. I’ve been teaching for 17 years but, this year, I’m not well and on partial short-term disability. I feel like I’m half myself and not giving my K’s the best year. It was good to read this today.

  76. Love your letter. Have to tell you, though, that it should be “past”, not passed in the first sentence. Thought you would want to know.

  77. It’s so true of all Educators but I have to say that’s also so very true for the Teachers in Special Education as well.

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  80. It may be what students will remember most, however being authentic and caring in today’s classroom is not enough for the teacher to keep their job. I’m in a 95%+ high poverty school. Many of my students live in substandard housing (shelters, their cars, garages, even rest stops). Many are hungry, stressed, sad, angry. Many are not ready to learn or to access what their teachers have to offer because their basic needs are not being met. Common Core Standards are holding teachers accountable for learners’ growth and meeting benchmarks. That’s where all the focus is, if you want to stay employed as a teacher today. Oft times, children with significant and sometimes severe behavioral problems are included in general education settings but with no additional supports. The young teacher down the hall is carrying stress that experienced, seasoned teachers who’ve been in the field for years did not contend with in the beginning of their careers. Of course, being patient kind and available to students is paramount, but we have to be forgiving and offer more support to teachers in the trenches. Platitudes on what students will remember most are not enough.

    From the counselor down the hall

  81. this must be an inspiring message to all the teachers out there. thank you for this sweet note! live, love and inspire!

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  86. I think the relationships teachers build with their students is vital. However, building positive relationships isn’t a substitute for doing what we are paid to do – teach. Our prime role is to make sure students leave our classrooms with the skills to learn and a love of learning. While it is all well and good to have students remember us for our nice and caring we are, it’s no good if they can’t read and write.

    • I would say our dual role is to : make sure students leave our classrooms with the skills they need to learn and a love of learning along with the more important- ensuring our students leave our classrooms with qualities instilled that will enable them in becoming a well-rounded, caring human being. Being a human being supercedes acquisition of knowledge and skills in my books!

  87. I grew up in a Catholic school and had a History and 6th grade home room teacher named Mr. Horgan. He always had his favorites and made it very obvious. Any time you would do home work, if you did not get a C or better he made you redo your home work and your grade would be lowered one grade so if you redid your home work you best get a A or B because that grade ended up being a B or C. He had a stick that he carried around and if he got upset because you didn’t know the answer, he would make you put your hands on the table and he would hit the table with his stick just barely missing your fingers. He was so rude and mean that he made me hate History and his class. He is the one who stuck out in my mind because he was so cruel. Now my twins had a 2nd grade teacher named Michelle Nevins Braun whom was one of the nicest teachers a child could EVER ask for. She went above and beyond to make learning fun for her children and made the parents feel very welcome. She truley made a difference in my daughters lives and all of her students. Thank you Mrs. Michelle Braun for always going above and beyond to make such a BIG Difference is your students lives.

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  89. You are 100% correct. I found in my years of teaching that relationship was the answer to most of the classroom problems. If I’m in relationship with my kids, they share responsibility with me to make the class run smoothly. Relationship allows students to share with you things they NEED to share with someone. Relationship means when they see me on FaceBook or at Walmart, we must speak, hug, and talk about what’s going on in their lives. They remember things I didn’t even realize I did. Ex: At the end of the year, a young lady who went on to be Miss Junior Miss, told me that she loved it when I said, “Here’s what we’re going to do!” because that meant we were going to do something fun.

  90. I wholeheartedly agree with every single word. I’m embarrassed to admit that as the amount of documentation required has increased in order to create “personalized learning plans” for each student, I (with my head held down) admit temptation to work on paperwork sometimes when my kiddos are working independently on something. What I really have wanted to do is say to %$#@ with the paperwork…LET ME TEACH!!! Thank you for the eloquent reminder!

  91. I have to echo Ann Bailey’s comment. The pressure doesn’t come from having the right bulletin board and the fanciest door decor, the pressure comes from knowing that so much of what you do as an educator is evaluated by standardized test scores, and so many expectations are placed upon teachers by administrators, who are pressured by districts, and so on up the line. State and national mandates that have nothing to do with logic, child development, or heaven forbid, compassion, drive our instructional practices to a great degree.

    This trend needs to run its course and the ever swinging pendulum in education needs to change direction. Children need to be nurtured, not driven like drones to perform on tests. Some of the content we’re expecting children to master doesn’t make much sense to them, and many need more time than we are allowed to give them to develop their understanding and proficiency.

    BB

    • These are the constraints we work within- it is not an easy time to teach, as you have indicated. The pressures are many and varied- and they are coming at us from all directions. I still believe that we must as teachers be true to our original calling- that is to teach students, not curriculum. As hard as it might be, we need to stand united for what we believe in. There is power in numbers- and there are certainly a lot of people echoing these same sentiments!

  92. Love this…I was told by my last principal that they weren’t “my kids” they are “students”. To this day I still call them “my kids”, they are the ones I look forward to seeing each day, They make ‘”My Day”!

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  94. I’ve had teachers who care, get kids to open up and build trust. That’s all fine and dandy but as an adult, I’m most grateful for the mean comp 101 teacher, the geometry teacher with no personality and my history teacher who gave hard tests. Don’t forget what you’re really there for, teachers, because the ones who put aside the feel-good attitude, the pats on the back and the popularity contest are the ones who most helped me prepare for a career.

    • Thank heavens for Brian. I thought I had gone mad reading all the saccharine responses. I am over 70 and a former teacher. The teacher I remember most fondly was a no – nonsense third grade teacher. There was a routine to each day and I knew what to expect to a certain degree. A huge portion of attention was paid to perfect penmanship and neatness. We had dictation each day as well. Our teacher read us glorious books. We wrote out our math problems in our notebooks with illustrations that we also made ourselves. We folded shiny red paper to learn about quarters and thirds, we drew 90 degree angles and 45 degree angles. These notebooks were graded nightly. At the start of the year I received comments such as “messy” or “poor work”. I was not scarred for life at all but realized more was expected of me. And so quickly the comments changed to “good” and “better”. By the end of the year I was fifth in my class, usually getting “very good” written in that notebook. Let me add that this was a year I spent in France with my family. I had known no French as the year started and was treated no differently than the others. I loved that! Someone was at last explaining the world to me and what was expected of me.
      PS: When I returned to the USA I received an “F” in penmanship. It was very different from the Palmer method for sure, but by then I was confident enough to laugh about the grade, knowing my writing was very neat and proper… in another part of the world.

      • Teachers can still be caring and make an impact in their own way, via the personality they’ve been given. I am not against “no-nonsense” teaching when it is warranted. But I am not one of those teachers that espouses the rule: “don’t smile until Christmas.” I believe that we need to be ourselves as teachers- certainly. But let’s make that ‘self’ we are a positive one for people to be around. While for you, the teachers you needed most were no-nonsense, bear in mind that other students need a different, more gentle approach. The responses I have received have indicated the many kind and caring teachers that are out there which also says something about the fact that ‘caring matters’! Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Brian, although it is true that we are preparing children for the workplace, I’d also like to believe that we are preparing them for life as a human being. Being a person requires much more than just a skill set- it requires character, integrity and a host of other empathic traits. I’d like to think that the curriculum I teach has a dual purpose- learning how to grow the mind as well as learning how to grow the heart. Thanks for your comments!

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  97. I am not now, nor have I ever been a teacher, and yet I have done something I rarely ever do. I have read every word of every comment here, tearing some at many of them. I feel so sorry for teachers now. I graduated in 1968 from a small rural school. Things were so different then. My teachers never had to deal with fear of students, burdensome regulations, helicopter parents, overuse of standardized test, and I think the worst thing is a lack of respect. Then teachers were respected on par in the community with lawyers, ministers, nurses and doctors. And we students respected them too. We did so because that was what the adults in our lives did. And it all worked to allow the teachers to really teach. Some were no nonsense by the book and some talked more in class about themselves and their life experiences than the subject they were teaching. But they all cared! The no nonsense ones never refused a request for one on one help if a student asked and would even volunteer it sometimes. They would come in early, stay late, or give up a free period to help a struggling student. The fun ones who liked to share themselves in class gave more homework and gave the test that couldn’t be passed if you hadn’t done it well. So we learned from both types and anything in between. This was the baby boomer generation going through school. The stage in the auditorium at my elementary school was used as a classroom. Fifty students in a class wasn’t unusual. Yet almost every teacher knew who your parents were, what they did for a living, where you lived, basically who you were as a person. They cared, and we learned. I see the post here where people refer to their teachers by their first name. My teachers were all Mr., Mrs., or Miss to us and to our parents. I don’t remember a single first name. To tell the truth I can’t remember all of their last names. I do have very clear memories of them and my interaction with them. No one around me knew anything about ADHD then. I was just a smart a** kid who couldn’t sit still or stop talking. So much so that once an adult who was watching me paid me $5 just to not say anything for five minutes. And I’m guessing it took them 4-5 hours at least to make that much. But my teachers didn’t give up on me. I got a lot of “He would do so well if he would just try.” notes on my report cards, but they never made me feel like I was no good or couldn’t do anything. I didn’t care much for school (who would when you do super well without much effort in things for which you have a real interest and can just barely get by in things which you do not, and get no credit for how much you really are trying), but for the most part I liked my teachers. I never saw my teachers later and told them how much they meant to me. I didn’t know until life revealed to me little by little just how much I received from them. I never liked or did well in history, but I learned that it was important and because of that I have studied it a lot over my life and it has made me a better person. While I learned to read before starting school and always have, and still do love it, writing has always been difficult for me. And I didn’t think it really mattered. That is until life slapped me in the face when I couldn’t get good ideas a hearing because they were dismissed out of hand because of how I wrote them. Then I remembered just enough of what I had been taught to recognize when I wasn’t being clear and learned bit by bit what I needed to do. And a lot of it was because I had learned just enough to know how to find out what was correct and what was not. I just want you teachers to know something about some of the kids you taught who may have seemed like they were going nowhere and who were ungrateful to you. Some of them go on to lead happy successful lives. And realize that we owe so much to you for both happiness and success more and more each year. Thank you! Your work and caring lives on long after you are gone.

    • Ron, that was really touching. I appreciate you reading all the comments- acknowledging the many people who have taken the time to write about teachers they remember. Thanks too for you thoughts on teaching. Can I ask what it is you do now for a living? How did you come to find this blog article? Thanks again for reading!

  98. It’s amazing after reading this how I instantly think of those teachers who showed me all the things you wrote about. I’m going to be a new teacher starting this summer and I can’t wait to get started after reading this. Thank you!!

  99. Would it work to just not use passed or past in line 1 and 61? For ‘rushed passed/past me’, how about ‘rushed by me’? For ‘See past/passed the behaviors’, how about ‘See beyond the behaviors’? …………. How would you reply to a student who offered this solution during a discussion of the use of passed and past in an article? …………………… My Grammer Lite didn’t like ‘behaviors’ but offered no solution so I looked for some definitions and learned something today. Thanks again teachers! ………………………………….. ……………………… “Get It Right!: behavior
    Get it right: behavior
    Behavior is usually an uncountable noun, so it is rarely used in the plural:
    ✗ Parents should be able to prevent their children’s crimes or bad behaviors.
    ✓ Parents should be able to prevent their children’s crimes or bad behavior.
    ✗ The media often encourage violence and aggressive behaviors.
    ✓ The media often encourage violence and aggressive behavior.

    The plural form “behaviors” is a specialized term used in fields such as psychology, social science, and education. This use is much less common than the uncountable use:
    In this chapter, we discuss strategies for dealing with the problem behaviors of young children.” …………………… In case you haven’t noticed I am frustrated that I can’t use the ‘enter’ key until I am ready to post. lol ………………………….. http://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/behavior

      • It wasn’t me! I just quoted the info from the link. I I though nothing of the word ‘behaviors’ until the read squiggly line appeared under it. When I held my cursor over it Grammer Lite offered no solution. I thought maybe it was one of those words that are the same in single or plural so I did a search and looked at some definitions to try and find out and came across that. I’m not a teacher, but I majored in psychology and have a keen interest in social science. I just never knew until today that it was a specialized term used in those three fields. Bless you and your fellow teachers for what you do and especially under the circumstances you have to work within today. It seems those in charge are looking for numbers to try and increase or decrease them as proof of a good educational system. I don’t think Socrates would have done very well in today’s system. The science just isn’t there yet to tell what is in a person’s mind or heart, and that is what I think makes a great teacher. I think teaching is an art, and it is very difficult to measure an artist talent and certainly can’t be done in a day by any standardized test!

  100. As a new faculty member preparing teachers to enter classrooms, I often feel the same stresses of preparing and delivering a terrific lesson according to state standards, making sure the technology is working, that everyone has had their TB shots and completes a background check, etc. I am learning to get all those little details completed and to teach well but also to make strong supportive relationships with my students who will be teachers in a few semesters. I need to model for them and with them what it means to care. I’ve heard it said that, “No one cares what you know until they know you care.” Very true . . .

    • I think you hit the nail on the head- it’s about RELATIONSHIPS!! That is the key. If we don’t have those relationships based on caring and empathy, it is really hard to inspire students to depth in knowledge, understanding and application. Yes, it can be done, but is that really what we aspire to? Skill and facts void of compassion? Thanks for your insight!

  101. I love when an old student stops to chat to you. Sometimes I am not sure who is more excited me or them. I saw one the other day. I was only ever a casual when he was at our school but still I remembered him well could ask about his family etc and was genuinely pleased to see him. Imagine my surprise when I said “It was lovely to see you Greg” and he turned and said “you too” and he remembered my name too.

  102. I taught for forty years plus. Long time ago and when I had a dream I would make a difference. Maybe I did and I sure hope so. But the proof is lost in time and space. I think I was not a harm to the education process. I tried and id a lot of wild stuff. I took over a hundred students to Epcot each year. I was one of the first teachers to do so.

    • 40 years!! You are a super-star! I am sure that you were a wonderful inspiration to your students. Well done, my friend! Be proud for the work of your calling. You are still inspirational to those of us on the teaching journey.

      • Thank you for your kind words. I blogged today on love and I think you might enjoy it. Give it a read and let me know what you think. I would appreciate your input. Also I blog on cute animals which I would love for you to show the children if you wish. I like to give joy to the young. I work at LegoLand in retirement and it is a real up to see smiles on their faces.

  103. I love this post. Made me remember my favorite teacher, Ms. Butler, from 6th grade 18 years ago. You are right, I do not remember any lesson she taught but I do remember her and how much she cared.

  104. I LOVED this, and you couldn’t have said this any better.
    I love reading blogs like this that are so real, touching, with so much depth. That’s exactly how I remember my favorite teachers…
    their caring, compassionate nature towards me, as well
    as the other students. We need more of these types of teachers,
    and you done a great job reminding that other teacher of that:)

  105. Hi, I enjoyed reading your piece. It’s true that students don’t necessarily remember the work or class arrangements but everyone remembers that teacher that went the the extra mile or at times the one that was the least friendly in school.

  106. Aww this is great! and absolutely TRUE! For all the teachers who read this, be inspired!

    I have so many memories all the way back to kindergarten! (I’m 26) And though i have lots of great memories of amazing, helpful, and funny teachers, i also have memories of those that were not so kind to the little girl who could hardly speak English during those elementary years.

    Teachers — you have no idea how much kids look up to you, no matter how much they show you otherwise.

    May this world continue to give us AMAZING, INSPIRING, KIND TEACHERS! <3 =)

    -Denise

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  108. On the last day of my senior year of high school the seniors walked a traditional parade through each hall of the school. On that day, I handed out thank you cards to every teacher who made a difference in my life and really helped mold me into a young adult. I gave a card to two history teachers and an English teacher. They all exemplified everything you wrote that students remember a teacher being.

      • One of the history teachers was Mrs. Nurmi, who was known for her contagious personality and love for coffee. She even taught me how to meditate! Most importantly, she was so attentive to each and every one of her students and knew just how much pressure there was in high school. She was like a guiding light. The other history teacher was Mr. Bevier, pronounced “Bev-ee-aye” but he was okay with you calling him “Mr. Beaver.” He taught me that it is important to learn how aspects of the world became what they are and that we should always be students of our peers and people we meet. Everyone from everywhere has a story. The English teacher was Mr. Reese who sometimes wore mismatched clogs and had a passion for sharing great books. He was really into showing kids how every book could teach us something about ourselves. He also would make us write “weekend recaps” every Monday and we weren’t allowed to stop writing for 15 minutes. Those weekly 15 minute writing drills were basically the beginnings of my blogging! :)

  109. Hopefully, this should work with University professors as well. Sometimes disenchantment with the job becomes systemic, affects other teachers as well.

    Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed! :)

  110. I hope that young teacher takes your advise. I think many teachers how to inspire a ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ kind of energy in their class & while that would have been WAY cool it’s actually the teachers that cared, really understood you that inspired you to want to learn and do your best. I have a few from my childhood that I’ll never forget & I hope whenever they are today they are as cherished as my memories of them

  111. wow, what a great post, thank you! I trained as a teacher but never got past teaching practice and a little supply work, the stress and pressure didn’t suit me, but the children we’re great. I did lots of different jobs over the years, care assistant, admin, youth work, charity fundraising, and now I’m a painter. Loved reading all the replies too. Being a good teacher is such a gift to the next generation, it’s such a shame that the job is fraught with so much extra baggage

  112. This was beautifully written, as a student myself I can agree that the teachers that I respect the most & will remember for the rest of my life are the ones that show they care and show that there is more to education than grades.

  113. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this reminder! It gets hard to remember to refocus yourself onto these important thing when everything else gets so stressful. Awesome post!

  114. My lecturer in college is the best teacher I’ve ever had for all those reasons mentioned. She took time out of her busy day if we ever needed her. I remember many times she would be eating her lunch whilst teaching as her lunch time was spent comforting a distressed student. She took the time to really get to know us as individuals and took an interest in us. She fought for me to get the extra help I needed at college, long after I gave up and somehow found time to give me one-to-one help. The best teachers are the ones who show they care about you as a person, not just as another statistic. I will always be grateful to my college lecturer for everything she did for.

  115. I had a very rough childhood. School was my safe haven. This brought me back to all those teachers who were there for me when I had no one else. I wouldn’t have made the positive choices I have made in my life if it wasn’t for those teachers doing exactly what you are talking about here. They made me feel special, something I didn’t get at home. Thank you for sharing!

  116. Reblogged this on One Girls Life and commented:
    I loved this post! The teachers in my life made such a difference because they were there for me. This probably made their life more difficult but it made a huge difference in who I have become!

  117. You are so right! I’m a high schooler at the moment, but I realize how much work the teachers put into teaching. And although neatness and cool captivating lesson plans are a major bonus, I remember the teachers who care about their students and thrive in such a classroom.

    • I love that you are in school and reading this blog about teachers! Thank you so very much for taking the time to read my letter!

  118. This was so powerful because looking back it really was the teacher who truly cared that made the biggest impact on me. Yeah, I may have had some teachers who were mean for, what seemed to me, “no reason” but they are not who I think about when it comes to my success. I had the same teacher for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade and she ended up taking me on as her God child when I left elementary school because she saw how much I loved her and also that my mom was a single parent raising a child the best way she could. I will never forget how special that made me feel to be cared about that much.

  119. Reblogged this on Avant-garde Coach and commented:
    The lesson here is not only true for teachers. I dedicate this to you who works in healthcare and hospitality services. Recently, I learned so much about “being” in the moment and listening to your true inner self through Co-active Coaching. As a Life Coach, I learned so much the value of “myself” than the skills I’ve learned.

    This blog truly resonated a lot of what value on who we are as a person than the “what” of what we do. Therefore, enjoy “being” as you:

    Being authentic.
    Being loving.
    Being daring.
    Being vulnerable.
    Being true.

    • I agree that the tenets of my letter are not just for teachers- truly they are for us all as we go about the “living” of our lives. It’s about being- period. If we can get that part down, we’ve won the battle! Carry on, my friend!

      • It’s great that you pointed it that way. Lots of lessons and to be learned to what you wrote. I believe that being vulnerable shows anyone to whom we provide our services shows the power of being true to ourselves, thus helps teach and empower them to be who they really are – which is: a beautiful human being.

  120. As a relatively new teacher, I am often faced with the struggles caused by the pressures put upon me by the administration, the parents, the government, and I sometimes forget why I chose this profession in the first place. Thank you for posting this little reminder of why I chose to be a teacher and what my real goals are for my students as they leave my classroom. It really isn’t about test scores and extra curriculars,

    It’s about that student who is so used to failing, that he can’t believe it when he not only is passing my class, but actually has a decent grade. It’s the way he tells me that the way I listened, the time I spent getting to know him, is what helped him want to try harder in my class. It’s on his graduation day when he hugs me and says that he never thought he’d make it that far, and probably wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been for me.

    It’s about the awkward freshman girl who can’t seem to find her place in the social jungle. The one who has more going on at home than anyone could ever really know unless they looked beyond the surface at the sadness and longing in her eyes. It’s the way she came to me and confessed that she was thinking about suicide because things with her dad were getting worse and she couldn’t find anyone who would care about her. it’s the way she thanked me the next day for talking to the guidance counselor about her situation so that she would have a place to get the help she needed dealing with an angry and neglectful father. It’s the way she thanked me for accepting her into the club I sponsor where she has at last met some people who seem to be good friends. It’s the way she says she trusts me not to hold judgment but to listen and help where I can.

    It’s about the young man who lives in a conservative small town and is battling with himself because he is gay but afraid to tell anyone. It’s about the way he chose me to confide in because he knew he could trust me to keep his confidence and be a listening ear when he was struggling. It’s about the way he cried the day I left his school to move elsewhere and I heard him say to another student, “I’m really going to miss her.” It’s the way he wanted to keep in touch when I was leaving, hoping to still be able to confide in me, and how he said over and over that when he graduates this year he is going to come visit me, wherever I am, because he can’t imagine not seeing me again.

    I don’t focus on those students enough. The ones who ate lunch in my classroom because they didn’t want to have to sit at a table alone. The ones who were outraged when they found out I was leaving because they had signed up to take my class the next year and were no longer going to be able to have me as a teacher. The ones who begged me not to go. The ones who treated me like one of the most special and significant people they had ever known. I focus instead on the ones who didn’t like me from day one because I was “a city girl” and they “didn’t like the way I talked.” I focus on the students who were angry because they got detention for being on their cell phones, or the ones who cried because I refused to extend the deadline on the paper they’d had a month to write. I focus on the fear that I’m never teaching enough, getting the point across, preparing them for the future. I focus on the stack of papers I need to grade, the hours of set construction I still need to schedule for the ever looming school play, the upcoming EOCs and preparation for my students in class.

    I realize that this is a bit long for a comment, but what I mean to say, more than anything else, is thank you for helping me to remember why I love my job, why I chose to teach, and how I sometimes do make a difference even when I feel totally hopeless of truly reaching any of my students.

    • Thank you so very much for sharing your journey with me- and with those of us who care about the heart of teaching. Its truly about caring each and every day for our students. If we can determine to do that every day of our career, we will have done well at this profession of teaching. It’s about the students we teach and the connections we’ve made with them. Good for you for all the little and big ways you’ve touched your students lives. Keep on Keeping on, my friend!

      • I have to hold on to the memories of students who have come back to me and let me know that I meant something to them. I have only taught two years, and starting the first day of my first year, I had students trying to get me fired. They didn’t like that I was an outsider in their town, and they didn’t like that I was brand new to teaching. They went out of their way to torture me that year. If they couldn’t get me fired, they wanted to be sure I would quit.

        I didn’t quit. I stayed in that school a second year. The first half of that second year was so much better than all of the year before. The first year I was called into the principal’s office almost weekly because of some new complaint about me that was completely false or unwarranted. I felt like I was in trouble all the time, and most days I did want to give up. I’m a fighter, though, and long before I took that job, I had promised myself to dedicate at least two years to a school before I decided if it was the right place for me.

        The second half of my second year turned out to be just as bad as the entire first year had been. The students held all of the power in that school, as they were all related to school board members who were breathing down the necks of the administration. When a student gets angry over a grade or a punishment and have the ability to run to their relatives, neighbors, and parents’ friends saying that their teacher was unfair or create falsehoods shared among friends to convince the administration that the teacher was doing something wrong, there is no way a teacher can defend him or herself and prove that what the students are saying simply isn’t how things really happened. There is no way that teacher can go up against an entire community simply because they made a few students angry when they refused to put away their cell phones in class and received detention.

        I had made my decision to leave that school before I even found out that my contract was not going to be renewed. I was actually typing my letter of resignation when the principal came to inform me of that. When I left that school, I was ready to give up. I applied to schools all over, more than fifty different districts within my state, and I didn’t even get so much as an interview with any of them. I was lost and hopeless, thinking I might not be cut out to be a teacher at all, and that I needed to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

        This year I’ve been working a part-time job as well as substitute teaching. Most days I feel like, because I’m never in a class long enough to really get to know the students, I have no way of making an impact or showing the students I care. I get bored and don’t even feel like trying. It’s when I get the most pessimistic about my future as a teacher, when I feel like maybe it isn’t worth it, when I don’t know if I still want to try so hard for something that gives me so little respect, let alone a realistic income, that I remember those students who I did reach. I think about the ways I have made a difference for even one student. I look at posts like this one to remind myself that I’m A) not alone in my struggles and B) still called to this career that I so love no matter how hard it gets. I didn’t choose teaching; teaching chose me, and I can’t give up on it. Not now, not ever.

        As jobs start to be posted for next school year, I intend to put my heart, not just my resume, into each application and really show why I’m not only a qualified teacher, but someone who really can provide an education beyond literature and writing for every one of my students if I’m given the opportunity. This year away from the classroom has really shown me just what I’m missing, and how much I want it back. I’ll just be sure to choose a bigger town in the future.

  121. very well work done…keep going…i liked it…its nice…as am a new blogger in this world and i wrote just 1 blog (story)
    http://mindtechnorms.wordpress.com
    and unable to find my viewer as like you, can u please help me by reading my 1st blog what wrong with my writing…is really something wrong with my writing or am just expecting too early…your helpful comments will really inspire me… and please follow me…

  122. as a grad student currently pursuing a masters degree in teaching, this was such a wonderful read! i believe that sometimes we get so caught up in trying to “do” everything right and perfect when it can all be just as simple as “being”. wonderful post!

  123. It was lovely to read from the perspective of a teacher. In terms of the message – I completely agree.

    I am in my final year of studies now and I have such fond memories of a selected few teachers. If I had one wish it would be to truly thank them for their time and company. I am not sure whether all teachers are actually aware of how influential they can be in sculpting a pupils vision of themselves. My teachers support and genuine concern has developed me so much as individual. It kept me from bowing to peer pressure and it is now being apparent how much that has helped me to develop in to a strong woman. I will never forget them and will always try to make them proud (a little strange since I may never see them again).

    I just thought this little comment may help show you, that your efforts are not lost and we really appreciate you for all of your help…. (It may just take us a little time to realise how much)

  124. what an annoying article. i am a teacher and if someone said to me when i am stressed ”stop its not about the lesson plans et, its about being there for the children” id become so enraged i would implode. why do you think teachers have so much work in the first place?!?! its because of the children!!!

    • I am really trying to understand this comment better- did you say that the work you do (which seems to be enraging you, if I read correctly) is ‘because of the children’? The children are why we teach- they are the reason we have this profession. Are we not in this calling- FOR the children? That is our calling. I am not really following this line of thinking.

  125. What a well thought out post :) I think we need to spend as much time as you as yours is amazing! Could you follow us so that maybe we’ll get a bigger audience!!!!!! Anyways, I’d love to read more of your posts

  126. That’s so so true. I have fond memories of my many many teachers and what i remember most is their caring and the laughs we had and the stories they told me. When i teach, i do try to give my students the best i can, not only the learning, but the fun and the caring, which my teachers gave me. The time i spend planning my lesson helps, but i think it is also the time i spend away from my students – the time to not be a teacher, and just be me, that helps me be a better teacher.

  127. As a mother of five I can honestly say that when my children excel in a subject it is always because the teacher is present, caring and transparent. Morals, values and kindness from people they spend so much of their time with is paramount to their lives as well as their education… Thanks for a beautiful post!

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  129. sweet post…and cute picture…it is true that a caring teacher will be remembered more than someone who is highly efficient but who lacks empathy….i too remember teachers from my school, college and university days who took a special interest in me and made me feel special :)x stay blessed.

  130. I had two amazing teachers in my school days…Mr Cole and Mr Griffiths. They were both rather unconventional characters. Mr Cole staged school plays, while Mr Griffiths rode a motorcycle to school and had a huge beard (actually the both had huge beards!) These two teachers inspired me to believe in my individuality and passions.

  131. Thankyou so much for this post. As a student teacher I am struggling so much with all the ‘stuff’ and the expectations and the hoops when what I really want from teaching is everything that you have written about here. This post made me cry. Please make sure you continue to be more than ‘The Other Teacher Down the Hall’.

  132. Well said. I do not have much to add here that has not already been said, except this:

    Thank you Ms Feldgreber, Mr Hojohn, and Mrs Smith. On behalf of ‘all of me’ I think each of you.

  133. Just heard about this text on my local CBC, love it. Love your simple, honest message. I work in the school system (I make hot lunches!) (Yes, I am a Lunch Lady.) and I take off my hat to the task our children’s teachers have; and to their dedication to the growth of our young people. Will come back & read often for inspiration!

    • Can I ask which CBC it was that you heard this on? I live in PEI, and I was only aware that it was available on radio here. I would love to have a link, if you know of one. Thanks so very much for reading and commenting!

  134. Your post was shared with me through a friend. I am finishing my first student teaching gig, as I am finishing my master’s degree in my mid 40s (I took the long way ’round to my final vocation). And I was deeply moved by your words. I have been working hard on just those things you mentioned – showing the kids you care – and yet the other, more important (deemed so by state certification requirements, by government/media focus on curriculum and content and accountability to standards, etc) vie for my attention. I try to put them aside when I ‘catch myself’ being more concerned about the lesson than the student. It’s in these moments, too, that I am reminded (sometimes by the students, sometimes by my own thoughts) of the little humans I spend my day with.
    Thank you for your post. It has buoyed my spirits at the end of a long and trying week, and I’ll return to it again(just after I hit ‘send’ on my certification portfolio/assessment).

    • Thank you for sharing with me your journey thus far. I appreciate the constraints that we as teachers are all under- and the call that we feel tugging at our hearts. At the end of the day, we know which to follow- we follow that path which leads us to care for our students!

  135. Teachers have been the closet people I’ve ever had to me my whole life(:
    While other students complain about their teachers I’m thankful for mine. I’ve had 2 very inspirational teachers in my life(:

    • I just thought it would be lovely to honor these teachers for their impact. Through naming, we give honor and worth to those we’ve come to admire. If you could provide the names of these two teachers, everyone who scrolls through these comments will then be given pause to consider the worth and significance of these two lives. Thanks for writing me back again! I appreciate it!

  136. Pingback: What is important in Education, let’s not forget! | silkatorres

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  138. You’re absolutely correct. I taught for thirty-eight years. I miss it and I miss my students. I hope they remember me as compassionate, kind, happy, and always available to them.

  139. I was an ADHD kid in the 50’s when nobody knew anything about that. So I was just a troublesome child who couldn’t sit still and never stopped talking. I tested my teachers and most responded well. But I will never forget one who did not. I was bright, probably would have tested as gifted if they had done that back then, and learned how to read from my Mom reading to me before I started school. In the second grade I had a teacher who only considered me bad news. Then we were divided into fast and slow groups, no colors or animals, as if that ever worked anyway. This teacher put me in the slow reading group much to the amazement of my friends and everyone who was in first grade with me.

    The students in each group daily would take turns reading aloud from the same textbook. I of course being over sensitive was crushed to be in the slow group. But I found a way to get moved to the fast group. When it was the fast groups turn to read I started doing something I never did in my slow group. Well, actually no one had ever done it in either group that I remember. Anyway, when someone in the fast group would stumble and get stuck, unable to continue reading, I would pick up were they stopped and read a few sentences aloud. This delighted everyone in the class, and it wasn’t long before I was moved to the fast group.

    As a shy person this was a big step for me so overall it was a positive year for me. But it could have easily been the beginning of one of those horrible stories of a child being mislabeled and not given the opportunities they deserved. Just because a child is a behavior problem doesn’t mean they can’t learn enough to have a good education. I can see now that if I hadn’t done this I might have just given up and lost my love of reading. I’m not sure this story relates to the subject addressed here, but I spoke to that in earlier comments and just remembered this and wanted to share it.

    • Ronald, thanks for sharing this story. It certainly does connect with the theme of this letter, as it does with much of my own personal philosophy of teaching: that is, that teaching must be done with heart and love. We must offer our students a curriculum of caring, keeping in mind that our students are unique and different human beings, not cookie cutter cut-outs. I am hopeful that by sharing our stories we can learn from one another. Thanks again, Ronald!

  140. Speaking as a current student, that in the end all I really do think about is how our teachers care about us. And you can definitely make a difference in our lives. Without my history teacher, I wouldn’t be here right now. He took the time to notice that I wasn’t myself and questioned me about it. If he had not done it, I would of never (eventually) admitted to planning to kill myself. He has helped me so much, and I hope the teachers reading this know that some students really appreciate everything you do for us. So really asking how a student is doing, could save a life. Just a little thought.

    • Katie, your comment just floored me- I am so glad you shared with me the impact that your teacher had in your life. He is a true hero, and you are right- SAT scores and test results matter little when a life is at stake. I am so glad your teacher had the intuition along with care and concern to see your need. Thank you again for your reminder to me- what we do as teachers matters. Sometimes lives depend on it. Love and light to you, dear Katie!

  141. I am a special education teacher and as much as I would love the heartfelt love that many students have for their teachers I know I will never get it. As a young teacher myself, no one will stop to help me because they’re too scared of my students and have no idea what’s going on. I just get the “oh, I’m so sorry” glare from everyone I pass by. Parents have no idea what we do. What we have to give up to help their students. It’s all totally worth it. I love my job and will do anything for my students. I try to remember how scary this has been without another teacher (in my huge building, btw) to go to. Now it’s great to be able to help other people who were in my position with no one else to turn to. It’s scary out there! Try to be there for your colleagues!

    • Alyssa, I am so sorry that you have not had anyone to turn to. You are right- we often feel isolated and misunderstood in this profession. I hope that you know- you are not alone! We are all in this together. Take heart that the many teachers represented here in this comment feed understand what it is like to be doing this important work of teaching and caring. Keep on keeping on! You are making a difference!

      • Alyssa (and anyone else who feels isolated or simply want more support), please feel free to contact me.

        I enjoy helping others. I have experience with students of all ages and developmental levels.

        I am currently teaching students with moderate/ severe disabilities in middle school and studying behavior analysis and student advocacy. After this school year is over, I plan to take a break from teaching to complete my BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analysis) certification. My hope is to gain enough education and field experience to become a support provider and/ or consultant for classroom teachers because I feel that teachers overall are not adequately supported! I have seen so many first year teachers drowning under their workload and very few people stepping up to help them!

        During my first two years of teaching, I taught at a district where there were two Program Specialists. I had one specialist assigned to me and the other was my BTSA Support Provider. From those two, I learned that some support providers/ fellow-teachers will support you by listening and giving suggestions (which seem difficult or even impossible to implement) while others will go out of their way to help you implement effective strategies by providing you with the training, resources, materials, and also listen to your needs. I have also met those teachers who are afraid to help you because they are overwhelmed with their own load or find my kids frightening. I totally know where you are coming from! :)

  142. I’m new to the world of teaching – just finished my internship in a lovely kindergarten classroom. However, at the end of my experience three months ago, one of my students unexpectedly passed away. It has had a profound effect on my view of a teacher, but it has been difficult to put into words how my priorities changed.

    This letter explains it.

    To me, it is of course important to cover curricular objectives and make sure students are learning and growing. That is what teaching is. However, at the end of the day, the most important thing to me is that my students enjoy themselves and know that they were cared about. Because if, god forbid, it is their last few weeks on earth, I want those weeks to hold as much joy as possible.

    I know that’s not quite where you were going with this letter – but it rings true anyway. Thank you.

    • Thanks so very much for your thoughts. I am touched deeply by your story, as last year a very similar situation occurred here at our school. A child died unexpectedly on a Saturday morning, on the heels of a busy school week. No warning. One last picture taken the day before during Show and Tell to hold a lifetime of memories. In fact, I sang and played the piano at his funeral. It was heart-breaking and affected me profoundly as well. I have written about it here ( http://pursuitofajoyfullife.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/i-can-only-imagine/), if you are interested in reading. Again, thanks for you comments as well as for sharing your story. Blessing to you in your journey.

  143. Reblogged this on Victory Kids! and commented:
    This is a timely reminder to each and every one of us who’s involved in kid’s ministry – at the end of the day, kids may not remember the Bible story you shared, or that brilliant PowerPoint presentation (or at least, it was brilliant to you) that you prepared, or that crazy fun game you played in class. But kids will remember the times that you were there for them; when you showed care and concern for them; when you bothered to connect with them beyond the stipulated service/duty times.

    Kids may not remember the Christ you taught, but the Christlikeness you displayed will leave a lasting impression.

  144. Pingback: What I remember about my teachers | It was a joke.

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  146. GREAT blog!! May I use this article on my blog? I am a PE teacher and I really enjoyed this piece. I also like to collect and share stories like this on my blog “Good Time Stories” Thaks for your time. Looking forward to hearing form you.

  147. cheers for the actual article i’ve recently been on the lookout with regard to this kind of advice on the net for sum time proper now so numerous thanks cgfdcfbcebke

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