Teaching can be tedious, exhausting, and sometimes feel like glorified babysitting, which is why many young teachers burnout after only a few years in their chosen career. It doesn't always look like "Freedom Writers", but everyone once in a while it does, and teachers have those moments that reaffirm this is where they are meant to be.
People on Quora were asked: "What makes a teacher proud?" These are some of the best answers.
1. You won't know until you try
I had a student at West Point who was a recruited basketball player. He would hand in three sentences for a four page writing assignment. We had a couple of long talks about his writing--as a HS student, he got Bs as long as he was the number one scorer in his part of the state--so he had no idea how to write at all.
In desperation, I ordered (cadets are in the Army, as was I then) him to sit at his computer and not get up until he had filled one page with words. He had no idea how to start, so I suggested he write "Dear Mom, you wouldn't believe what a jerk my English teacher is. He has just ordered me to sit here and write anything until I fill a page." and then see what happened.
The next day, he came to see me with his sheet of paper--"Sir, I filled a whole page! I didn't know I could do that." We worked together for the rest of the semester, and he became a competent writer--never great, but competent. He went on to graduate and became a fairly successful Army officer. I have other moments, but this is the one I recall the most.
2. A life-long love of learning
My proudest moment came three years ago when a former 6th grade student walked into my classroom late one afternoon. She grinned at me and asked if I remembered her, which of course I did because of the telltale grin and her long ginger hair.
She was about to graduate high school and said she’d been accepted to Harvard for the fall! I was elated for her and asked her what she wanted to study. She said she wasn’t sure but that her time in my sixth grade class had instilled in her such a love of learning and a value for strong education that she absolutely soared in high school, graduating as a co-valedictorian and winning a scholarship to Harvard.
It was the kind of thing you read about when you’re in teacher college. But you don’t know how wonderful it will feel until it actually happens.
3. You never know how their imaginations will blossom
I have been a substitute teacher for the same school district for the past 8 years. Four years ago, I had taken over for a 5th grade teacher with cancer, from Nov to the last day of school. The teacher ended up passing away that April....so sad.
Well, when I went up to the middle school while these kids were in 7th grade, a student from that 5th grade class came up to me.
Student,"Hey Mrs. B! I just wanted to let you know that you letting us do free writing in the beginning of each day has really made me love creative writing. I'm going to write a book someday!"
"Awe, I'm so glad you enjoyed that time. Make sure you dedicate your first book to me!" (or something like that)
As just a substitute, this was pretty amazing for me. It made me feel good that I was someone's inspiration without actually having my own classroom.
4. It takes a whole village
I worked as a tutor while I studied at U of Iowa. One of my students was having a horrible time with math and I discovered that her fundamental understanding of math was non-existent. So, I helped her essentially go over high school math and then algebra etc. When she was accepted into nursing program (her lifelong dream), she came to see me, gave me a big hug and said "My parents helped me craft my dream, you made it come true." As a 20-year old, I was blown over that someone would compare me with their parents... I strutted like a proud peacock for at least a whole week.
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