I'm a college instructor, and it's always nice when students show genuine interest or acknowledge me as a human being. For example, today one of my students and I ended up walking the same direction after class, and as we went we chatted about class-related things. It wasn't anything huge or remarkable, but it always brightens my day when my students are friendly and comfortable talking to me outside of class.
I'm a professor, and I get upset when people tell me about how entitled this generation of college students is. I see gratitude, hard work, and thoughtfulness quite often. Here's one little story: in class, I mentioned having a headache. At the end of class, one of my students gives me two extra-strength Tylenol. Tiny gesture, but so sweet. Here's another thing that delights me: when my students want to introduce me to their parents at graduation. I'm at a large state school in the US. So there's usually a lot of anonymity, and it's fairly impersonal. But when these students introduce me to their parents, and their parents say, "Oh, YOU'RE Dr. FrauBoots? Thank you for everything you've done for my son/daughter," well, I'm floating for days. One more small gesture: when one of my students stays after class to ask a question, and s/he helps me erase the board. Again, small gesture, but so thoughtful!
Two stories from 5th grade where I worked as a para/reading teacher. I had a kid who was ALWAYS distracted and out there, but genuinely tried his best. Sweetest little guy. One day he walks up to my desk with an expression of pure joy... That was replaced by the most baffled face I've ever seen. He then solemnly said, "Miss Girllock, my train of thought just chugga-chugga-choo-choo'd away." He marched back to his desk and sat down while I tried not to die laughing. Second one... On my last day as a para, before I had to switch to subbing only due to health needs, a boy who'd been hell on wheels to every teacher the entire year came up and gave me a hug. This kid had a hard situation and would try everything in the book to get out of class, which was why he was my "partner" in class projects. I'd take as much time as we needed to get through a page, or his name, or just to stay in class without hiding. So, he hugged me as I left and said I was his favorite teacher because I never got mad, and I needed to come and sub his class (so he'd know I hadn't ditched him.) I held it together until he left, cried in the car, and you better believe I took every sub job to his classroom that year. Kid is finally in a better situation and I couldn't be happier.
I'm a band teacher, and this is my first year. So far it's been rough. The parents aren't pleased with what I'm doing, and it looks like I got on the wrong side of the loudest woman with nothing better to do with her time than to bad-mouth the new kid on the block. I've had several parents actually yelling at me over random things. Principal isn't happy with me, and is backing the parents. All I'm doing is holding kids accountable for learning their instruments. I was helping one of my students learn music for honor band auditions after school. After we finished up, she told me that her mom noticed a vast improvement since the start of the year. She also told me that I'm one of the best directors to teach at the school in over 5 years. (it's a k-12) I think at this point I started tearing up. It was the first time I was complimented on how I do my job. That was only last week. It meant a lot to me.
I have a student who has severe emotional trauma in one of my classes. Yesterday he brought a big book of Edgar Allen Poe to history class and shared his favorite poem with me. Needless to say this was a huge risk for the student due to the nature of the trauma he has suffered. This simple gesture of trying to make a connection and show trust is nearly enough to make me cry.
Instructor at a large university. I'm blessed with the responsibility of teaching one class with less than 25 students. I've been here a few semesters thus far, and I always get some students who tell me that they enjoy how I teach, the course, etc. I've had my fair share of students who say that they have switched majors to the major I'm a part of because they enjoy my class so much. It feels good to hear that I'm helping refine someone's life path, but the following takes the cake: In a previous semester I had this student. He was a transfer student from a community college. He wasn't the brightest, nor was he the hardest working. He kept to himself most of the time, but he had this knack of always finding humor and making the class laugh. Halfway through the semester, the class was assigned to give individual, personal presentations allowing for the use of stories and/or personal experiences. Nearly the entire class had emailed me prior to their presentation with questions regarding how I felt about the topics they were present on--nearly everyone but him. I reached out to him and asked him if he was doing well, just to check in. He quickly replies with a vague reply about what he was working on, and what his presentation topic would be. I didn't want to force him to tell me his topic area, because I didn't want to pry (It wasn't required for the students to clear their topics with me, but I suggested that they do it for guidance). Then comes the day of his presentation. I wasn't sure what he was going to present. Half of me expected him to give a humorous presentation, as per his usual behaviors in class. However, his presentation was far from that. It was a beautiful memoir of how he overcame his depression after being sexually assaulted and becoming a stronger human. I didn't expect it. No one did. His presentation was one of the best presentations of the semester (and probably one of the best I have seen thus far). After class I walked out of the building to walk to my office, and I saw him sitting outside alone. I approached him and thanked him for sharing his story, and commended him for his courage to share something that personal with the class. His reply? "Uh...thanks professor... I feel comfortable in your class. You're the only professor I have that keeps me attending this university. If it wasn't for you, I don't think I'd be enrolled here much longer."
I hate my school. Absolutely hate it. The staff are horrible to the students and each other. One kid keeps getting screamed at and comes in most days crying. Had a parents meeting with his mum and dad. His mum told me I'm his favorite teacher because I'm calm and relaxed. Came at a perfect time and I've stopped looking for other jobs.
Was teaching English at a school in the countryside of Chile. Word had gotten around that I used to work in coffee shops. An 8th grader (not my grade level) surprised me one morning with a thermos of hot percolated Italian roast and said "Now you not have to drink that stuff in the teachers room." Kids can be so rad, man.
I am a high school teacher. For me it's as simple as a student having an honest conversation with me. Many high schoolers are extremely closed off towards adults (never more than "hi", don't really make eye contact etc). It's nice when a student will stop by your office just to talk or to ask advice on something.
I had a student with Autism. We developed a tradition at lunch where I would ask for one of his cookies and he would say no. Sometimes I would act like I was going to take one and he would grab them. As I walked away, he would hug his cookies and smile. It was our daily joke. On Monday morning of Teacher Appreciation Week, he realized he didn't get me anything and started to panic. I kept reassuring him that it was ok, but he continued deeper into a "meltdown." He ran to his lunchbox and pulled out a cookie and gave it to me. I wish I could have kept that cookie forever.
I had a student that was a recent immigrant from Africa. I was teaching geography and I was showing her something on the globe. She wanted to know what all the blue was. You could see her brain exploding at the thought of all that water. I thought that was so cool.
I teach English to some pretty low level Korean students so any time I see them outside of school and they try use all their English with me is guaranteed to make me feel better just knowing that me being there inspires them enough to want to try..
When I was doing the final year of my under-graduation, I taught drawing at a local institute to kids between 6-9 years old. On one of those days, after class, a couple of the parents were late to come pick up their children because of a traffic re-routing on the road outside. I got bored and decided to draw the portrait of one of one my students. A cute 6 year old. It was a very rough sketch, just outlines and some very minor shading. One of the kids watching me draw said "You are even better than Leonaado Vinchee". Made me chuckle. It was and probably will always be the best compliment I've ever gotten.
This was a few years ago, but it is by far the most heartwarming (and heartbreaking) thing a child has ever said to me. I was with a group of after school kids, two brothers and their sister. They lived with their dad, mom wasn't in the picture. While playing in the sandbox, out of nowhere, the girl looked at me and said "Ms. Pikacakes, I wish you were my mommy." It made me so happy, and so sad all at once.
I took an extra week off after New Years to bury my father (a few years back). First day back, I'm in my classroom, getting ready for second period (I didn't have first). Student comes in a minute early and said, "Sir, I'm sorry about your Dad." I smiled, said Thank you, and turned toward the blackboard to finish something and when I turned back, he was gone. I spotted him walking into the classroom across the hall. That's when I realized, he was in my period 3 class, not period 2. He could've waited 45 minutes to say something, but he made that little extra effort for me. I reminded him of that in June on graduation day.
In the middle of teaching a math lesson to my fourth graders, I got a paper cut. I said ouch, and then spent a grand total of about two seconds looking down to examine the damage. When I looked up, one little boy was already standing in front of me holding a band aid. So darn sweet.
I teach private trombone lessons in middle schools. A couple weeks ago I was working with a 6th grade beginner who was finally making some serious progress after weeks of struggling to figure out the mechanics of making a pleasant sound by buzzing into a long bendy piece of metal. As we were playing some long tones, an 8th grader who I've taught for the past 2 years opens the door to the practice room. This kid has been through some stuff since I've known him and he isn't always the nicest, or most socially graceful of the middle school boys I teach (not that they're an especially graceful bunch.) He looks right at the awkward little 6th grader and said something along the lines of: "You sound great, man! I remember hearing you when you first started at the beginning of the year and you've made a ton of progress! Keep it up!" Seeing my formerly troubled student act with such maturity and kindness, and seeing how happy it made the younger boy was amazing. I may have teared up just a tiny bit.
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