Classroom Capers – A Heartfelt Edition for December 2011
In addition to making us laugh at their jokes, cheer at their successes, and smile at their ah-ha moments, our students can touch our hearts in ways that can never be matched. The three stories below are examples of why teaching truly is the most rewarding and important profession there is. Grab a tissue and let the stories remind you why your students need you.
“My story comes from my first year of teaching,” explains Sherri, a 3rd Grade Teacher, from Rincon, GA. “I had a student in my class who was quite a challenge. However, I saw the good in him and his potential to succeed. He did not want to read. I encouraged him by setting a goal with a reward in mind. I told him if he read 900 minutes by Christmas, I would get him a surprise. His mother had to initial his reading and he had to convey specific knowledge of each book. I spoke with him further to see what he might want me to get him if he achieved his goal. He was in the sixth grade and never had his own personal CD player. My heart broke for him to be in an age of technology and not have what other children take for granted. He rose to the challenge and made his goal. I was so proud! I rewarded him with his CD player and his favorite CD. On the day before Christmas break, he came to me with a gift. It was a raggedy, dirty stuffed koala bear. I thanked him, but was unsure of what it would later mean to me. His mother called the next day. She proceeded to tell me that he gave me the koala bear he had slept with since he was a small child. He had nothing to give me, but wanted so much to show me what I meant to him. His gift was the most treasured gift I received that year. It made such an impact on me that to this day, I try to remember the difference he made in my life and I in his. The challenges I face in the classroom always remind me of the rewards to come. I will never forget how much that student touched my life and affected my teaching for the rest of my career.”
“I’ve collected about 30 small stuffed animals and beanie babies throughout the years to use as writing prompts. After Hurricane Katrina, I decided I would share my special animals with my new students on the first day of school,” said Kathy, a 4th Grade Teacher in Belle Chasse, LA. “I cleaned them up and my colleagues thought it was a great idea. But during that first day, I became anxious about the reaction I would get as I asked my 4th graders to choose a pet to adopt. Would they refuse or laugh at the silliness of the idea? I turned my head away as the students walked over to the animals…I didn’t want to see if they rejected this gift which was coming from my heart. After what we had experienced, I wanted each of them to take home a “little piece of me” in the hope it might give them a sense of peace and love. I heard the chatter and excitement as some of the girls rushed to the box, and then I felt a nudge on my side.
‘Mrs. C.,’ spoke a soft voice, ‘know why I chose this one?’ I asked him why. ‘’Cause he looks like my golden retriever, Goldie–that I had to leave at home when we left for the storm. And now I don’t have him anymore.” I took a deep breath to keep my composure, then held his new Goldie and the little boy’s hand over his heart, and we both shed a few tears. As we stood there, I felt his pain of losing his beloved pet. Seven weeks earlier, Zachary’s home had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. He told me when they went back to see their trailer—it was gone, there was nothing left. The doghouse was gone, too, but he knew his golden retriever was still alive – he saw his paw print in the mud. Zachary still has not found the real Goldie, but his new Goldie traveled back and forth to school in his school bag. Maybe that ‘little piece of me’ will begin to fill ‘the big chunk of what he has lost.’”
“In early March of the following year, Zachary, the boy in my story, was reunited with his dog, Goldie. A kennel in Delaware had been taking care of it since the storm.”
Will You Be Mine?
“After my students ‘graduate’ 5th grade they move on the Junior High School directly across the street,” explained Dawn, a 5th Grade Teacher, in Davenport, IA. “Many come back to visit me, and our classroom pets. At the beginning of the school year a couple of years ago, our classroom hamster, Nibbles, died. I like to have pets in the classroom, I have had a rabbit, Cozy, for the last 5 years and Nibbles was about 3 years old.
One of my former students came to visit and I told her about the death of our classroom pet. She went back to school and passed the info around at the Junior High. Many students came to visit and console me.
Then five months later, on Valentine’s Day, I walked into my classroom in the morning after a meeting to find 6 of my former students holding up a large sign “Will you be our Valentine” . When they moved the sign I saw a new hamster in a beautiful new cage with food and bedding and new toys; it was everything a hamster could need. I was so surprised and overwhelmed!! They explained that they wanted to wait awhile and thought Valentines Day (the day for love) was a good time for a new hamster.
I still tear up when I think about that day and the thoughtfulness that went into those students doing all of that for me, and my future students.”
Share your stories – the funny ones, the sad ones, and the happy ones with us by leaving a comment below. You might see them in a future edition of Classroom Capers!