Jan 302014
 

math

A few weeks ago, I went into Chase’s class for tutoring.

I’d emailed Chase’s teacher one evening and said, “Chase keeps telling me that this stuff you’re sending home is math – but I’m not sure I believe him. Help, please.” She emailed right back and said, “No problem! I can tutor Chase after school anytime.” And I said, “No, not him. Me. He gets it. Help me.” And that’s how I ended up standing at a chalkboard in an empty fifth grade classroom staring at rows of shapes that Chase’s teacher kept referring to as “numbers.”

I stood a little shakily at the chalkboard while Chase’s teacher sat behind me, perched on her desk, using a soothing voice to try to help me understand the “new way we teach long division.”  Luckily for me, I didn’t have to unlearn much because I never really understood the “old way we taught long division.” It took me a solid hour to complete one problem, but l could tell that Chase’s teacher liked me anyway. She used to work with NASA, so obviously we have a whole lot in common.

Afterwards, we sat for a few minutes and talked about teaching children and what a sacred trust and responsibility it is. We agreed that subjects like math and reading are the least important things that are learned in a classroom. We talked about shaping little hearts to become contributors to a larger  community – and we discussed our mutual dream that those communities might be made up of individuals who are Kind and Brave above all.

And then she told me this.

Every Friday afternoon Chase’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.

Who is not getting requested by anyone else?

Who doesn’t even know who to request?

Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?

Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.

As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children – I think that this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help – who need adults to step in and TEACH them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others. And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside of her eyeshot –  and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But as she said – the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.

As Chase’s teacher explained this simple, ingenious idea – I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said.

Ever since Columbine, she said.  Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine.

Good Lord.

This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that ALL VIOLENCE BEGINS WITH DISCONNECTION. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. She watched that tragedy KNOWING that children who aren’t being noticed will eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.

And so she decided to start fighting violence early and often, and with the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written with shaky 11 year old hands  – is SAVING LIVES. I am convinced of it. She is saving lives.

And what this mathematician has learned while using this system is something she really already knew: that everything – even love, even belonging – has a pattern to it. And she finds those patterns through those lists – she breaks the codes of disconnection. And then she gets lonely kids the help they need. It’s math to her. It’s MATH.

All is love- even math.  Amazing.

Chase’s teacher retires this year –  after decades of saving lives. What a way to spend a life: looking for patterns of love and loneliness. Stepping in, every single day-  and altering the trajectory of our world.

TEACH ON, WARRIORS. You are the first responders, the front line, the disconnection detectives, and the best and ONLY hope we’ve got for a better world. What you do in those classrooms when no one  is watching-  it’s our best hope.

Teachers- you’ve got a million parents behind you whispering together: “We don’t care about the damn standardized tests. We only care that you teach our children to be Brave and Kind. And we thank you. We thank you for saving lives.”

Love – All of Us



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  1,807 Responses to “Share This With All the Schools, Please”

  1. This is so very inspiring! Parents, please don’t whisper about the “damn standardized tests”! Scream it from the rooftops!!!

  2. Love this, save for the part where they say reading is the least important subject. Don’t quite get this logic amidst all of the other good stuff.

    • After reading through comments I see this notion was batted around before. As I say later in the thread, let’s agree it was an awkward choice intended for a specific impact that ultimate doesn’t work. As I say later as well, I was an unconnected child who loved to read and reading was my rock and helped me survive. It isn’t true that an unconnected child can’t learn well. They just can’t communicate well. Wonderful article that loses it impact by being a bit too simplistic.

      Also, perhaps all teachers need to take standardized tests since there is quite a disconnect between the knowledge some have (those who know what a sociogram is) and those who do not.

    • They’re not saying reading is the least important subject, just that the subjects taught in school, all of them pale in comparison to the other things they learn (or don’t) like being a good person and how to connect with others. If they can build good, solid citizens who truly love and care about each other then what does it matter if they struggle a bit in any given subject. They will still be successful in life.

  3. Absolutely beautifully written and a stunning account of this teacher’s insight. I hope she has been and continues to mentor others on their journey as she moves into retirement.

  4. My beautiful Professor Ledet was a magical thing to me as she taught me math my first math class back…ohhhh that more could be as these two Angels!
    Love and blessings…

  5. This made me cry. Kudos to that teacher!! I’m going to suggest that my kids school does it this way instead of how they are currently doing it by basing who gets awards by doing good things. I mean, doing good things is definitely reward worthy, however I noticed it was almost always the same kids ( and that’s just what the teachers saw… I saw these same kids being pretty rotten). All kids deserve recognition and praise. It’s like having a bad day and a stranger gives you a random compliment.. Changes your whole day! I know it’s strange to think that something like this might actually save a life, but when your 9 year old tells you that he wants to kill himself because he’s feeling bullied and isolated, you tend to want to take things into your own hands and make sure that it doesn’t happen to them or somebody else’s kid ever again!

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  7. I wish the writer of this article & the commenter who said an 80 yr old teacher taught her this too, had both posted WHAT they did next with the information they learned. They find out who the lonely students are, then what? They find out who the most popular students are, then what? Honestly, without that information, it’s a touching post, but not so helpful. Not meaning to be negative.

    • Sorry–by the Time I got through scanning all the comments, I had forgotten this blog was not written by the teacher making the list comparisons. So my comment was out of place, I apologize.

    • As a teacher I can tell you.

      She sat the lonely kids near big hearted talkers. She created group activities that would lead the kids to find things in common with classmates they don’t normally hang out with. She took a couple minutes from each day to chat casually with the loners to build a relationship. She pulled one of the sweet, more popular girls aside and talked her into inviting an outcasted girl to sit with her at lunch. She paired the lonely boy who was good at fractions with the jock who isn’t, then mentioned to them that they both have told her they play Minecraft (to spark a conversation). In private she asked the student who listed no names who they might like to sit with next week, or let them choose their desk. She may have even rigged the nominations so the wallflower would get recognized. And I’m sure she made phone calls or dropped notes to parents to tell them how awesome their kid is, especially if the kid had a tough week.

      • Awesome post. I’ve subbed and sometimes gone to other teachers with questions and gotten answers similar to yours – just based on my observations and knowing the kids as well as I did (small town, smaller school),

    • I agree so what? Not all teachers have the right instinct nor the time to do it. When they asked to provide passing scores that is what they are set to do. They need help and guidance to nurture those values in their students. At the end of the day what matters most of the time is that graph where the students’ grades make a teacher an amazing or a failing teacher.

  8. I read Barbara Branden’s biography of Ayn Rand – “The Passion of Ayn Rand.” She was the wife of the man with whom Rand had a long sexual affair. Nathaniel Branden was 25 years younger than Ayn Rand. In her biography, BB describes how AR, as a child growing up in Russia, had a hard time understanding the ability of some girls in her school to form friendships and relationships. AR had trouble making friends. Her intellect was her main identity, not her ability to be the most popular and most well-liked person in the class or group. She couldn’t connect with other kids.

  9. I recall a substitute teacher doing a sociometric diagram like that when I was about 6th grade in the 1950’s. Unfortunately, it did not have good results. One thing that I suspect she should NOT have done was to tell the class who were the most “popular” students (I was not one of them), and do nothing with the data. The thing I noticed about the teacher in this story is that she did it every week and shifted the kids around each week as well. Telling the kids that they may or may not get what they wanted is great as well.
    I went to an eight-year grade school in an older neighborhood; in the newer parts of town they were building jr hgh schools. My seventh and eighth grade years with teachers who had us all day long were probably the most influential school years I ever had. The teachers really worked on giving us a grounding in the subjects we had, and then built from that; and gave opportunities for us to develop talents that we probably wouldn’t otherwise have recognized. Particularly in seventh grade, we got a fantastic overview of history and math, which turned out to be very significant not only in high school and college but in life; and I began to write in those years, and have been writing one way and another every since.

  10. One of my colleagues shared this and I am glad that she did. Teaching is more than standardized tests and you showed that. Not only did your son’s teacher care about her students, but she took the time to help you too. I LOVE that this was written from a parent’s perspective. You get it!

    “There is a method to my madness. You are learning something right now.” These are some of my favorite phrases to my 5th grade students. I agree that bullying often happens out of an adult’s earshot, but methods like this, whether old or new, are helpful to finding the patterns. Thank you for sharing AND for volunteering in your child’s classroom.

  11. It’s called a sociogram and teachers have been doing it since WAY before Columbine. I was taught this by a master teacher in college who was about 80 when she taught our college course and I’ve taught 27 years. Every teacher should do it. You make two class lists, side by side, and draw a line from the student to the four people they want to sit with. It’s time consuming. But you keep going down the list until you are done, then you look at who has the most lines, and who has the least. Old methods are best, wish they’d let us teach the way we know in our hearts are best for our students.

    • In all my years in school and in the last 18 that I have had kids in school, I have never heard of this or seen it implemented. I think it’s great but not sure that many teachers know about it. Or maybe just don’t do it.

    • Yes–I learned to do sociograms in then 1970’s as an undergrad, and I relied on them through all my years of teaching. As a building principal, I use a sociogram when I have a child who needs help fitting in–it really does give fantastic insight. Every teacher should do it often.

      Columbine was only one shooting that affected my students. The worst might have been when an 11 year old was a shooter in the late 90’s, and one of my 5th graders said, “But Mrs. Byrnes, I’m eleven.” There were no good answers that day.

  12. A comment was made much earlier that there should be no cliques, the clique I belonged to were some of the nicest kids I ever met. Friendly talked to everyone smiles, popular with all including the “best kids”, Annie might be best friends with Rosie, but if Rosie went away on vacation for a week or two, she was no longer the best friend, Claudia replaced her, and visa versa. This mixing it up went on
    continuously, we all learned that it wasn’t the end of the world, instead it’s how we learned to make new friends. One of those gals who on occasion was my best friend, 60 years later remains one of my dearest friends today. Learn to roll with the good times as well as the bad, a nice smile can a good friend make.

  13. I wish one of my teachers had thought of doing this. I was one of the ones who fell through the cracks. I had a very hard time making friends.

    • I am also one of those who fell through the cracks and also wish this would have been thought of when I went to school. I also have a hard time making friends.

      • Seconded. I wish this was something that had been even though of in my schools. Never really made friends, still don’t know how to build lasting relationships.

  14. “All is love, even MATH”
    No. That’s the exact opposite of the message you should be taking away here. All is math—even love. That’s the accurate statement.

    • Then you are missing the point.

      • no seriously everything is made of math so his statement is 100% true so he missed no point he made a better one… take pi for example it is a decimal that is never repeating going on infinitely so technically speaking within pi the data for everything in the universe that has ever been or ever will be is within be it your exact genetic make up or word for word every page in hamlet…. too bad its so much data that it would take an eternity to actually decipher it…

        • The point was not technically speaking. It was a literary device, better known as irony. Please keep in mind that this article was written by the parent.

          At the beginning of the article the woman asked for help with MATH. She had wanted to understand what her son was learning. If she did not already understand how to do long division, than math was probably not her strong suit in school.

          However, math was a strong suit for this teacher so she put her skills to the test. She wanted to catch the kids who fell in the cracks. This was done by using statistics collected from the actions of humans. Math just recognized the patterns in behavior , it did not give that student love. Math cannot give love, it can provoke situations for love but it will never give love.

          Finding children who are being left behind socially and then trying to help them by placing the children with other people that could love them is love. This is an action of a human giving another human resources to thrive in the world.

          This article was mainly about a teacher finding statistics to help students thrive in the world. She wanted everyone to have a friend and to diminish the bullying and violence in the world. It just so happened that math was one of her talents that she could put into helping students.

          When this parent went to the teacher she did not expect to learn that the teacher was trying to save people by helping children make friends. Most of all she was probably shocked to learn that math, a subject that she either dislikes and/or does not pursue a life in, could help her child through recognizing a statistic. This is the irony.

          Statistics do not cause actions. People who care enough must be willing to do something about these statistics. In this case the statistics included who was being bullied, who the bullies are, who is lonely and who is popular. Along with this comes a child’s home life. If they are bullies than they probably are lacking something at home. The point was to show that love is in everything, even a statistic can show it.

          • *then math was probably not her strong suit in school.

          • Since love is just the significance we attach to chemical reactions in our brain and all of that can be expressed through math, the op was entirely correct. When you look closer at what that significance is in this particular situation and what it could mean to our larger community, Cat Rose is correct. My thought when I read the phrase that even math is love was the same as the op. The mother got it backwards. The teacher expressed relationships as patterns.

    • Exactly.

  15. My directing teacher, Don Buttermore, had me do this same activity with many positive results–and this was in 1958!!

  16. Wow. I am crying Glennon. What a beautiful lesson this teacher is providing. Not numbers or letters. Teaching our children to simply love one another. Teach on warriors, indeed.

  17. I see that some people are focusing only on the lonely kids. This system that she is using can also be used to focus on those kids who always pick the same kids, by mixing it up and introducing them to others they may not have thought of. By seeing the patterns in your classroom, it allows you to help all kids. She says that the kids know that she might not honor their requests. Every kid has something “going on” and a system like this can really help us work with ALL of our kids more effectively. I have taught the school “bullies” and getting to know them well, realizing that they are insecure and afraid of looking stupid. The “popular” kids often don’t know how to make “new” friends and so by choosing their seats for them (and sometimes honoring their requests) they can more comfortably branch out. This article is about the power of knowing our students well and yes, math and reading are important skills, but ultimately, life skills and mental health are the most important skills we can teach our kids. And it doesn’t stop in elementary and middle school. I teach high school and as “tough” as adolescents want to appear, they need us to see beyond the outer shell and help them work through issues. I have spend many after school hours just listening to a student vent about getting benched in basketball or losing their starting spot and although I realize this issue is small in the overall realm of life, at that moment in their life it is a big deal…so I listen and try to help them see all perspectives….I feel really lucky to teach at a small school so that I CAN know my kids well.

    • You sound like a wonderful teacher too Dawn and as Mom of an Aspie kid I am so grateful to read about people like you and the teacher in the article!

      • I’m also the mother of an 11 year old on the spectrum. Being a teacher has helped me understand him and having him has helped me be a better teacher!

  18. Does anyone know who this teacher is?
    What is her name and where is she from?
    Would love to speak with her.

  19. The only problem with this otherwise beautiful and important article, is that it presumes the children he grow muderous are the children who are ignored. Not true. The most grotesque bullies are often the most socially popular students. Enabled by their popularity to be cruel, they grow addicted to being cruel and this addiction can sometimes grow into murderous spasm. It happens with dictators and it happens with our kids. The lonely student and isolated socially- look at them! They are the ones who step up, despite their fear, to stop the bullying when it happens. I say having taught all ages for the past 24 years. It disturbs me to see all these self-proclaimed experts pathologize the lonely, isolated child. If you you really observe, that child is most often isolated because he or she is empathic person and refuses to play along with group bullying. And i say to you parents who may have a child who is “unpopular.” In this culture, unpopularity and courage and kindness often go hand in hand. If your kid is unpopular, it might not be something you did wrong.In fact It might be because your kid is an invisible hero and you helped in that.

    • Yes, I agree with you on one level. But, I think you could also pick out those “popular” bullies with this strategy and, possibly, develop a plan to change their trajectory.

      • Yup! Exactly. Notice that in the article there was no mention of what the teacher did with the data. The point is, the teacher had the data, and patterns emerged. Those patterns can lead your actions as a teacher in many different, hopefully positive, directions, to work for good. As an experienced math teacher, I am going to try something like this, especially after some students I have had recently, who I could not reach, as they were tuned out to the teacher and their surroundings, and not just in my class. Thinking back to my own rather isolated-feeling experience as a high school student (I was essentially “air-dropped” in to two very new and very different environments sequentially) in the late ’60’s, I know there is a need.

  20. I like that the teacher was worried about which kids didn’t fit in. However, I could not believe that she thought math and reading were the least important things taught. Those are the most important subjects. And i was blown away by all the information that the author left out of the article. What was the deal with the symbols that the teacher was calling numbers? What was weird about the new long division curriculum? And what did the teacher do with the information she got from the students about who they want to sit next to?
    PS there is a ton of spam in your comments. You can safely assume that the posts with no content specific to the article, and comments that look like they were run through a bad translator, are posts by bots or posts by people who get paid to create fake internet identities. You should use a captcha at least to catch the bots.

    • I believe I would rather live in a society where people treat each other with dignity and respect than a bunch of people who can read an do math, but are also assholes.

      Don’t get me wrong, because school is very important, but if states and federal guidelines would quit worrying about all of their standardized testing and where we measure up to the rest of the world, maybe we would turn out more educated, compassionate graduates. It’s not always about being the best…but being well rounded.

    • My children’s previous elementary school held “Math University” for the parents, so that we could help with the new way that math is taught.

      To break down a painful system (to us) for learning, they want the kids to know the “why” along with the “how” – this means breaking down the steps into what seems ridiculous (to us, who know the “easier” way of doing math).

      Reading and math ARE essential, but today there is altogether too much focus on standardized testing, and as such, more and more often teachers are hobbled by their list of “must do’s”. There is much learning that goes on in the classroom that happens outside of the books – when the teacher has the time and latitude to do it.

      Trust me, I can show you the section of gray hair on my head that is solely attributed to bar modeling.

  21. I would be interested in knowing if and when this fantastically brilliant woman was nominated or chosen as Teacher of the Year.

  22. My 4 year old started Pre-K at our neighborhood elementary school this week, so I have a billion emotions running through me right now, but this article just brought out a thousand more.

    The first thing I think about is Columbine. I am from Colorado and I remember watching this happening from my dorm room at Colorado State with my roommate. Two freshmen just out of high school ourselves. We were crying, hugging, calling our family and all I remember is thinking, these kids aren’t supposed to be doing this. They’re supposed to be getting ready for prom and graduation and college applications and summer jobs, like I was this time last year. My heart was broken in a way I never thought it could be. I still have the same feelings thinking about it and friends I have who were there that day.

    As the stories about the two boys started to come out and the bullying it made me think about a story of myself when I was in 8th grade. One I’m not proud of, but that did happen. We had a little “click”, the 8 of us. We ruled the hallway and thought we were the coolest thing to hit the middle school, like ever. And I played along, faked it like I was just as cool. While all along my friends didn’t know that at home things didn’t look like their houses. In fact, I didn’t have one. My mom and I had moved in with my grandparents the year before and at the beginning of that school year my grandfather suddenly passed away. I was hurting. I was 13 and so unsure about myself and everything as most this age are and never wanted anyone to know what was going on. My mom didn’t have a lot of money to spend on designer clothes, in fact the majority of my clothes came from second hand stores.

    Well, one day one of “the click” made a comment about my shirt. She was joking but in my mind I was panicking. I thought she’d figured out the secret. So instead of laughing along with her, I made up a lie and told all the other girls she called me a slut. And that started it. For weeks this poor girl was shunned, bullied, called names. Inside I felt like mud. It made me feel awful treating her this way, but I had started it, and had no idea how to make it right. One day in our favorite class with our favorite teacher, while the poor girl sat alone, the rest of us were passing notes making fun of her. The teacher had an idea what was going on and I think at this point was just fed up with it. I’ll never forget it, she stopped what she was doing, looked at me and yelled “what is wrong with you?!” And I thought yeah, what is wrong with me? I’m not this person. But how do I fix it?

    The girl did the right thing after that and sought out the help of the school counselor who sat the two of us down and talked it out. I’m sure the counselor was aware of my home situation but never let on and my secret stayed with me while he helped us. I apologized and she accepted it and all was back to “normal” (what grace for a 13 year old), and we moved on.

    I guess what I’m getting at is this, it was so easy for me to fall into that. And I’m not a horrible person. I wasn’t a bad kid. I made a mistake and needed help figuring out how to fix it. How do we help our kids not only prevent bullying but also know that there is always help? For the bullied and those who have and want to fix it? Now as a mom, I want to do everything to help my daughter and the classmates she’ll have.

    • Thanks for your courage in telling this story. And this is the challenge–as Archbishop Tutu reminds us, we are all capable of great good and courage. We are all equally capable of great evil and cowardice. I’m so grateful that, in the midst of your pain, you were able to hear your teacher’s caution–and respond accordingly. I’m sorry for the tough time you had then–and grateful the opportunities your four year old has with you as his/her mom. :)

    • It’s easy to fall into cliques and get caught up in belonging. I was never that kid, and with a different disposition could have become the violent outsider. We learn by example, so I often feel that parents and those that raise the kids are MOST responsible. Not for the lessons they don’t teach, but for the lessons they exemplify.

    • We can start by teaching our kids that everyone makes mistakes. Everyone deserves a second chance. The Golden Rule. Parents need to stop labeling young children or shaming parents when their child makes a mistake. Children need to know that a mistake does not define who they are or who they will be. Adults need to behave as grown ups-not participating in gossip, judging others, or being selfish. Our children learn what we model for them. Parents need to teach forgiveness and kindness by example. Then children won’t feel so ashamed/guilty when they make a mistake. They will know that all humans make mistakes. What counts is your actions afterwards-learning a lesson and not repeating the same undesirable behavior. But I’m a kindergarten teacher-in my world we are all friends.

  23. My mom died last August of Cancer. She spent her last year of life teaching at the school she loved. She knew she was going to die but at 71 wanted to teach until she couldn’t. She “retired” on the last day of school. She attended the All School Mass (during which she could barely stand/walk/talk). She was supported by the entire staff and loving community. She went home, was anointed and started Hospice the same day. one of her last wishes was that the principal put lunch tables on the playground the following year. She realized that some children need a space to sit with a friend, read a book, or have a spot to meet someone new. My mom understood that kids are lonely and that recess can be very, very difficult. With the same heart at described in your post, my mom lived and and loved. Born to be a teacher-she was one of a kind. I am so happy to read your post today as we honor her passing and feel abundantly blessed to have her as my mom. Happy BTS gang! Remember there are teachers out there-hopefully filling up your classrooms–like my mom. I should add that her wish was granted and enjoyed by good..I mean WONDERFUL students of all ages last year. :-)

  24. There is certainly a great deal to know about this subject.

    I love all of the points you made.

    • This is a bot.

      • Evan is a bot? What is a bot, a robot? Or, is best thing a bot? How do you know this, Evan? I really don’t understand. I’m not joking.

        • Evan has noticed that “best thing” posted a generic comment and is most likely a fake account, perhaps set up by a computer program called a “bot.” Or it could be cut-and-pasted by someone paid to leave comments to validate fake accounts.

  25. First off I would like to say excellent blog! I had a
    quick question in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing.
    I have had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out.
    I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips?
    Cheers!

    • just start writing. Anne Lamott calls them shitty first drafts. Her book Bird by Bird is an excellent way to learn about writing from a real live flesh and blood broken human being. She’s very much like Glennon, just a bit older.

    • This is a bot.

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  27. I’d like to find out more? I’d care to find out some additional information.

    • Yes, I would like more info too! I am especially interested in what the teacher did next. With that information, how did she work to build connections for those students who needed it? I feel a big part of the story is still missing!

  28. Not going to lie, in tears over this. This is genius and needs to be in practice nationwide. My teachers didn’t figure it out until my art projects were drawings of me holding hands with angels while watching my classmates play from afar.

    • If my daughter had this teacher or one like her,she might still be alive.. She did make it to middle age but it was a struggle for her. As her mother I always made excuses for her; if she was moody,sad,spent too much time in her room, or had so few friends even when she told me she was being bullied,the teacher didn’t take it seriously even blamed the incidents on her. All the signs were there but I and most of society has so little insight into these things back then. Thank you for this lovely post. If it helps one child or one teacher you will be blessed.

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  31. For the record I am a teacher who teaches in a small district in Michigan and I make it a mission, due to the size of our school, to reach out and connect with each lonely & unconnected student at least once a week. A hello in the hallway, an invite to tutoring after school, or a compliment about the shirt he/she is wearing. Legislators who want the small districts to consolidate need to consider this. My oldest son struggled in a very large school and I believe would’ve had much more success in a smaller district due to the possibility of making more connections.

    • What’s different about Chase’s teacher is that she goes on to teach the children how to make friends for themselves. Yes, when a teacher takes time to truly mentor a child and show them that they believe in them, this can inspire at risk youth to avoid drugs and gangs and do something with their lives. But a casual “hello” in the hallway, though well-intentioned, is not mentoring. I’ve seen many students who did well with teachers and with their studies who had no clue how to make friends with kids their own age. Kudos to Chase’s teacher for going the extra mile and teaching social skills!

      • I’m still waiting for someone to teach me social skills.
        This teacher sounds wonderful. But this kindness and helpfulness is exactly what the “war on teachers” is trying to get rid of. We should be paying teachers more, not less. They do a very difficult job.

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  33. Oh, caring people are nice, but the best hope we have for the world is The Lord Jesus Christ. Cry out to Him, and ask him to be merciful to you, and forgive your sins by His precious, spotless, sinless blood. Look unto Him all ye ends of the earth and be ye saved by grace alone. The Lord accepts no good works, but only a genuine plea for mercy based on The finished work of His Son on the cross of cavalry. This is great news! This is the gospel! May the Lord save your soul. Start reading the book of John in The King James Version for more information. You may never be the same again, and may you cross from death to life.

    • Yes, my friend, but this is Jesus LIVED OUT LOUD! And this speaks louder than empty words, even TRUE empty words. I am not sure if this person is a lover of Jesus (and they well may be), but her actions speak louder than most Christians I know who know the truth! It is true that the business of saving lives has been perfected by our Jesus, but the first glimpse often comes from people like this and then that door is OPEN!

      Yes, Teach on WARRIORS!

    • Alecia – great comment ! ultimate peace and meaningful success come from accepting God’s gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ. Chase’s teacher opened a door of hope to her students, but that inner peace and sense of belonging – which they need – can only come when the spiritual ‘door’ is opened in their hearts. Blessings

  34. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this
    onto a coworker who has been doing a little homework on this.
    And he actually bought me breakfast due to the
    fact that I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this….

    Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to
    talk about this subject here on your internet site.

  35. Thank you for this story. I am happy to see this being acknowledged. We all must look for the child sitting alone. All professions and parents too. We can teach our children to do the same. Sit with the child that is usually alone, encourage them to join your group. Dismantle cliques. Get to know the quiet people, there are diamonds everywhere.

  36. Love the analogy, generations victim to churning out pupils who recite well but have lost their inspiration for science, and math as puzzles not programmed into their robotic like education.

    Human robots are poor excuses for people but make great work-slaves for industry.

  37. G

    I remember reading this a while ago and wanting to send it to my kids’ teachers, but felt too “shy” or too “interfering.”

    Last week, a 13 year old at my son’s school killed himself. I have been wracked with sorrow and filled with questions. One of my immediate thoughts was to search high and low for this post and I will be sending it to our schools tomorrow.

    While academic excellence is a priority in our lives, teaching kids how to be brave and kind is even more important and teachers are our eyes and ears for at least 50% of every day. If we could have more like this teacher, we’d all be better for it.

    Thank you, thank you.

  38. I have to say this story is very impressive and I was completely captivated by this teacher! I live in Canada, specifically Edmonton, Alberta. Bullying has become a very serious issue here as well, however we have been very fortunate to have not experienced a shooting incident in Canada’s classrooms. And I sincerely hope we never do.
    As a individual that was also bullied in grade 9. I became very introverted and did not trust anyone!
    Today I have been blessed with a beautiful little grandson. Whom I treasure very much. He is becoming very withdrawn and is also being bullied by girls in grade 4/5 during recess.
    His mother, my mother and I have decided to approach his teacher as well as his principal and bring this link to their attention. And will stress to them how important it is to provide a bullying deterrent, but handle it in a very respectful dignified manner. Which I believe I have just discovered.

    My youngest daughter is going to be an elementary teacher officially next June 2015 and I will be sure to give her a copy of this as well. I personally believe all children need to be “heard” and “valued’ for WHO they are.

    Thank You for another aha moment!! 😀 Kim

  39. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who was doing
    a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me lunch
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    allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time
    to talk about this issue here on your website.

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  42. This story was very compelling, especially evidenced by all the diverse comments. This one is based on my being a School Resource Officer for the past 7 years and working with “At Risk” kids for about 20 years. What I see from day to day, in my workplace and what I read is this, each comment has some validity. Today’s children have so many issues they bring to the learning environment, not including the issues the learning environment itself has that affects each student. I will not say, “We should or shouldn’t do this or that, I can only say what works (most times) for my students. Love, encouragement, consequences (good & bad), consistency and accountability. It has been my experience that kids will reach for the bar wherever we place it. Yes, even the learning & behaviorally challenged kids. I believe we must meet every student where their need is, not where we think it should be based on past experience or statistics. By this I mean getting to really know that child and the issues they bring to the “desk” every day. Yes, this takes up time, but if we don’t do it, then our children (as adults) will be lacking in making educated, informed and compassionate decisions that will impact the lives of the people of our country. I see the good, the bad and the ugly in my job – child abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, drug/alcohol abuse, to name a few…but the thing that keeps me going every day is the love that comes back to me ten-fold. I earn the trust of these students and every single time I get way more back than I give. It’s a hard job some days, but I believe I am investing in the country’s future by doing all I can for these students. Yes, sometimes they pluck my last nerve, but then I stop & think how I must pluck God’s! How can I treat them any less that God treats me?! God bless you all.

    • I really appreciate your commentary. My son is 30 and has no children. Most of his friends have no children either… BUT, I’m thinking about how to get this into the classrooms here in TX. We too, have bullying issues… I think almost every school in the nation does, but some are more effective in combating the issues than others. I loved the comment in the original article “Teachers- you’ve got a million parents behind you whispering together: “We don’t care about the damn standardized tests. We only care that you teach our children to be Brave and Kind.” That is so true! Standardized tests don’t encourage teaching… they only encourage testing which isn’t the same thing at all. We don’t teach kids how to be critical thinkers, how to problem solve individually and in groups, how to be creative and so much else. And we have eliminated much of what they should learn so that the “appropriate” amount of time is reserved to “teach the test”. Mike Miles here in Dallas, is the superintendent and he awards teachers (they get to keep their jobs) based upon test scores. (I’m not a teacher any more so I’m not worried about repercussions but some of my friends are.) Our teachers need THIS information so that we are turning out educated, confident, thoughtful, well adjusted, supportive young adults who search for TRUTH and are not just taken in by words. That will turn around our country before it’s too late.

  43. I would be interested to know what the teacher did with the info if (or when) she saw a pattern. Is there any way of reaching out and learning more about that piece of her plan?

    • I used to use this method in Girl Scouts to form patrols. I had the girls write 3 names in preference order. I made a chart with the results. I gave any girl who was not named or only named once her first and second choice. I gave every girl at least one of their choices. It worked!!!!!! And some new friends were always made.

  44. I need advice, a friend of mine doesn’t have any family left. He recently discovered his long lost father, unfortunately the father doesn’t want anything to do with him. I d like to step in and help him ( Im about 13 yrs older) but I don’t know where to start. I m not perfect but at least I m here.

    • Be his friend. Spend time with him and ask his opinion of something. Let him know you value him. Be a friend and share your interests with him. Sometimes just being there is a great help to someone who is struggling.

  45. wonderful teacher
    wish there were more like her
    please share this with her replacement

  46. This is interesting because I am walking across America from New York to Los Angeles to help raise further awareness on the issue of bullying. Feel free to check out my webpage on Facebook. Maybe I’ll be swinging through your area. Having trouble posting, website needs fixed.

  47. I want to emblazon that final paragraph on my heart and know it in my very soul.

  48. “We don’t care about the damn standardized tests. We only care that you teach our children to be Brave and Kind.”

    Um… I care! If all my child learns is to be brave and kind they will not succeed. They simply will not make it in the real world. Yes, they need to be kind and brave, but they also need to learn to spell, multiply, think critically, and read. They need to learn the discipline that comes from repetition and practice. They need the team and leadership skills that come through group projects.

    To much touchy feely and not enough brain work makes for a kind, brave ignorant child.

    • i just think it’s a little ironic that you talk about ignorance and use the term “to much”…

      • Dear Karen, excuse me for asking, but THAT”S what you took away from and felt compelled to comment on from this amazing post, I can only hope you will rethink your perspective and open your heart. This writing certainly opened mine.

        • Laura, I think Karen is replying to Stephanie – not the post

          • I believe that Karen is pointing out the irony in Stephanie’s post. Stephanie wants her child to learn a variety of things including spelling; however she herself cannot spell. The “to” she was looking for in her sentence beginning “[t]o much touchy feely…” should have been “too”.

          • Probably not. Probably Stephanie can spell just fine.

            Probably she was typing and forgot the last “o”.

            If anything, she needs to proofread before clicking “submit”. I can tell from her writing that she knows how to write and spell.

            Again, she made a point that was on subject, but nobody responded to the point that balance is needed.

      • A very perceptive comment. Spelling police are neither needed nor helpful. (Anywhere.) Most spelling errors are typos. And, to call out a spelling error on an otherwise worthy comment is a variant of the “ad hominem” fallacy – attacking the person and not their argument. I believe this is one of the weakest forms of argument, and calls the intentions of the attacker into question. (As well as just making them look petty.) It’s one thing to deplore poor spelling and grammar in general. It’s another, entirely, to assail an individual with their minor mistakes. Look at the substance of what a person is saying, not at their spelling.

        • Too many parentheses……I kid, I kid. :)

        • I agree with you, Bett, because spelling or grammar is NOT the issue…and these kids that learn that they are loved will do FAR better in any classroom and excel in life more than those that are brow beaten to death for not getting it…

          • Really fantastic article such a brilliant but simple concept….love heals and truly where there is GREAT LOVE there are always miracles…Mother Teresa. It would be a changed world if everyone implemented LOVE where ever we are in our everyday life…just like this truly compassionate teacher. Taking the time to notice to care to LOVE….thank you for posting and sharing.

    • Um…I think you may have missed the point. Hats off to this teacher for going above and beyond. In over 10 years of child care, I have seen way too many children who are a burden to their parents, an inconvenience to their life-style. Those parents would rather have anyone else “deal” with their kid/s then do it themselves. Those children feel it too. You can tell when they feel they are not accepted…you can see it in their behavior. It is sad but true. So again, hats off to a teacher who wants to help them feel better about themselves. Also, standardized testing is a joke. Every child learns differently and at their own pace. Forcing teachers into a marathon of material to cover for the all-mighty testing is wrong. I watched all three of mine go through it this past school year when the format was changed to meet the new state requirements. What a load of bologna. These kids barely get one concept down before they have something new tossed at them. There isn’t adequate time allowed for repetition and practice which I am with you on. Yes, they need to learn all that you mentioned. Absolutely they do! However, standardized testing, in it’s current format, is ineffective, inaccurate, and seriously needs to be analyzed and revised.

      • Well said….wish there were more parents like you. Each child at their own pace….time to absorb one subject before a new one is thrown on top.. allow them time to use the first thing and t g enjoy build on it…..
        But I would love the school systems to read this original piece and then have that teacher teach others. The kids are individuals and need to be treated as such. Teach our kids to understand how to function outside of school and deal with the harsh world around them.

        • How about the parents teaching their own kids how to function outside of school and deal with the world. How about if a child can’t keep up in school, the parent works with the child at home to help them, or get them some tutoring so they learn the information and are better able to keep up. How about the parents asking their own kids if they have any friends or are lonely? If the child has no or few friends, how about the parents work with the child on ways to make friends, learn a sport or hobby, etc. so they are included in more activities. Ultimately, how a child functions in the world is not a teacher’s responsibility; that responsibility belongs to the parent(s). Teachers have the responsibility to teach students the three Rs and whatever else is required currently by their school board, state, or whoever. It is not a teacher’s job to make sure your child has friends or to break up cliques of kids who already have friends. If a teacher has any time in their already overworked days to teach being kind and brave, that’s just gravy. But not all parents are secretly hoping that’s all their kids will learn in school. Most of them are probably just hoping their kids learn enough reading, writing, math, science, etc. to be able to get a decent job (hopefully doing something they enjoy) and support themselves and their families when they are done with school.

          • Nadine, your comments are right on. The parents have ultimate responsibility for the upbringing of their children. That’s why I do my best never to have my son exposed to a learning environment where the teacher fails to teach decent human values. Yes I agree with everything you said, except I would add that if people who spend the overwhelming majority of time with a developing mind (teachers) dont have a responsibility beyond filling it with marketable skills, well then who does? In my opinion, it isn’t gravy for a teacher to teach social values. Why teachers need to do it is explained fairly well in other posts here, though I would add the “immersion factor”: By the time a child is in middle school, the fact is the parents are already done with most of the formative work they’ll contribute. A typical middle school child is at school for 8-10 hours, at home for 3-5, perhaps actively interacting with parents for 1 if you’re lucky. (Granted, most children pay more attention to what their parents say than to what most others say, so that hour has a lot of weight to it.) If you immerse a child in any environment for years, without paying attention to the social aspects of it, you can expect – well anything, including extreme antisocial behavior. In my experience as a teacher, it doesn’t even have to take much (if any) time, because values are best taught by example. Modelling generosity, patience, open-mindedness, bravery, etc. for the children is simply a classroom management style, not something you “do” when you are not teaching the 3 R’s. Among the extraordinary benefits of such a simple approach: Helping to foster growth in people for being productive and creative – for the right reasons. (You dont need to provide the specific reasons, they can do that.) Being able to discover and nurture a spark of interest, passion, even of genius, yearning to be expressed, but more often suppressed (by family, peers, or teachers). A spark – unique to each child – that definitely drives marketable skills, but which unfortunately seldom shows up on a report card or standardized test. Expression of a child’s spark seldom happens in a disfunctional social environment.

          • You’re mistaken that only parents are responsible for teaching children values and interpersonal skills. Parents are not in school and therefore cannot see how their child interacts in the group and where things go wrong. It’s next to impossible to adequately coach a child remotely. You’re relying on their perception of situations which in many cases is faulty. Furthermore, parents don’t know the other players the way the teachers do. And finally, parents may lack objectivity about why their children don’t fit in. We love our children and know their best selves but the children at school may not see that side of them or don’t have the life experience to appreciate it. Teachers can be more objective and help to create a climate that fosters interpersonal learning and growth for everyone.

            As Marc says, teaching these skills is not something extra that teachers do. It’s part and parcel of what the most gifted and caring just naturally do in the midst of teaching the 3 R’s.

            Studies show, too, that emotional intelligence plays a very big role in success, not just jobs but relationships, too. And I don’t know about you but I want more for my children than simply having a job and paying the bills. I want them to be successful in their relationships and to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

      • I had goosebumps reading this just as I did reading it once before. I did well on my Standardized tests but was very ostracized in school because of my quiet and trusting demeanor and mild to moderate Tourettes. In the 70’s and early to mid-80’s bullying was something the kids were mostly left to handle amongst themselves and it always seemed like most of my teachers never even noticed me being left out, kids acting like I had a highly contagious disease, my personal things frequently being stolen and broken or smashed – and this in a suburban white-bread public school. Society is an even harsher place now and bless her insight and proactive work. She is surely making lifelong changes for some of these lonely kids- and for kids who are instigating the bullying.

    • Kindly explain, exactly, how mastery of said standardized tests will guarantee the success of your children.

      I think that you missed the point. The author is not suggesting that math, reading, etc. are unimportant. She is merely pointing out, rightly, that some things in life are more important than a silly number on a test report. This is a fact that I think many of our schools should be reminded of. And I would be willing to bet my next paycheck that nobody involved with the Columbine tragedy remembers his standardized test score from that year.

      • Bravo!

      • Such a wonderful idea. Children will definitely benefit from this kind of observation and will be more able to learn the academic material and succeed!

      • We used to take tests at the end of each topic being taught… weekly as I recall. We had quarterly tests and final tests… of the subjects taught. As then we got our grades. My mother taught elementary, my father was junior high. They cared about what and how the kids were learning. They also fought for recess/breaks that allowed the kids to BE kids and become rejuvenated, prepared to come back into the classroom with an active/inquiring mind ready for the next subject. No one taught the test… they taught the subject! It worked!

        • Oh my goodness, for a minute I thought I wrote this. This was my experience as well. My dad taught junior high and mom taught elementary.

    • Stephanie
      I’ve been a public school elementary teacher for 27 years. It goes without saying that teachers need to teach all the basics and more so…but it’s just that AND so much more. Modeling and teaching kindness and bravery is really important in the world that our children are in. I’m not sure how old you are but the impact of social medial and our young children’s minds is incredible. Many children lack some of the basic emotions and reasoning that were just natural to a young person 20 years ago. The children today are to some extent emotionally dull due to the artificial stream of images that come at them. Utube and other sites allow them to view the world from such a distance they sometimes lack the emotional connection to what they see. (Pranks have become common for kids to do and watch)
      So, you are so right, parents should always be on the look out for that effective teacher who can prepare their child academically…the emotional piece in my opinion is equally important. Lastly, teachers have the daunting task of creating learning communities based on trust. The most effective teachers have found a way to weave emotional learning into their curriculum. Teaching is an art

      • Pam, thank you for your 27 years of service and dedication to our children. Some of my best friends are teachers and the love and energy they pour into their jobs is phenomenal. I think your comment hits the nail on the head…academics are important but so is good citizenship. Academics won’t mean a lick if kids aren’t emotionally prepared for the world we live in now.

    • Your response is the reason I think about home schooling when my grandson gets to school age.

    • What this wonderfully compassionate teacher is doing is over and above the Scope and Sequence of the discipline she is teaching! As usual, one of the biggest problems in education is parents.

    • Standardized testing does not always quantify critical thinking, or a child’s knowledge of science, math or English. What it does is tell you if a child is good at taking tests. Compassion and kindness will see you through a lot of situations, and day to day tasks at a job can always be taught.

    • Stephanie, standardized tests have been proven to be an inadequate marker of intelligence, learning, aptitude, and academic success. They’re an easy way for politicians and administrators to show success or failure through numbers – though those successes and failures usually have very little to do with the reading, writing, multiplication, and critical thinking skills that you agree are so important. The “discipline that comes from repetition and practice” is often lost when schools are forced to make every child conform to a standardized test, regardless of their learning style or speed. Finally, the “team and leadership skills that come through group projects” can only be learned when children are adequately socialized and comfortable with their classmates. This article demonstrates a way to make that happen so that each child is given the chance to thrive, succeed, learn the necessary academic skills, and apply them to the real world. When children feel alienated at school, everything else suffers.

  49. This is a spectacular article, and I thank you so much for sharing. I will be passing it around to others I know, teachers and otherwise. We can all look for those who need us.

  50. I am a male middle school math teacher. Can this work for 6th graders?

    • I would say you are in the right place for this. The article says this is a group of 11 year-olds, so that is pretty close.

    • DEFINITELY!!! I believe that this could work with almost ANY age, but middle school is the PERFECT and CRITICAL time to do this!

    • YES! My 6th grade class benefited greatly from a similar exercise. Also, our guiding thought in the classroom was, “Include everyone.” They were taught HOW to include others in group work, and HOW to include others at recess. Because I got to know each student, when I had responses similar to what was described above, I was able to shine a positive light on those being passed by. Hm… all of a sudden they were interesting and getting attention. Not everyone is immediately “attractive” – I use this term not as “pretty”, but as “similar enough or interesting enough that I want to give them my attention and have them share their attention with me.” What these kids learned is that everyone is interesting in some way – one has to take the time to get to know them first. Not everyone is popular and outgoing and active. Everyone is interesting. It’s about the ‘liking principle’ – spend enough time with someone and you’ll find something you like about them. By moving kids around with their input, we both give them someone they are comfortable with, and seat them near someone they can get to know better through participation in school events. They already have that in common. I also do a lot of grouping for many lessons: pairs to the side, pairs to the back, squares of four, rows, columns, girls, boys, etc. The possibilities are endless and keep the kids interacting with each other. Please try a couple of these ideas that you are comfortable with and engage the kids in the process. They have to know that YOU make the final decisions, and you need to be sure that everyone gets at least one person on their list or you lose credibility. One of my classes really surprised me when they embraced the idea in ways I had not imagined. They were not all great friends, but they understood the spirit of the grouping and seating idea. Plus, I shared that I practice this in other areas of my life: attending school board, faculty, and parent/teacher group meetings I sit by someone new each time so that I can get to know them, and they can get to know me. Modeling is so powerful, and 6th graders can understand the connection between YOUR actions and what you are asking of them. Enjoy a great year of creative energy from your class! :)

      I think this response applies to the posting below who is confused and used the term “losers” in her phrasing.

  51. I was teaching a 4th grade class. When it comes time to choose teams for the softball game for P.E. you know who gets picked last. I stood before the class and announced that we would be choosing differently today. The team captains were to start with the students who were always chosen last. Since this was a private, Christian school we were free to discuss the Golden Rule and some examples from the Bible, and the “first shall be last and the last first” etc. I was surprised to find that it was still very hard for the captains to choose this way. They were competitive in their very souls and they didn’t like to “lose.” But it did them good. Try the experiment.

    • So Annita Davison…a spotlight was put on the failure of the less successful students by forcing others to choose them first, even though they obviously didn’t want to and considered them ‘losers’? This is supposed to help their egos? What am I missing here?

      I

      • I completely agree with Annaliese. When I was growing up, there were no mass school shootings, yet guns were far more readily available. So what has changed? THIS is what has changed (the above article). Parents today, for better or worse, and I believe it’s worse, have abdicated much of their child rearing responsibility to teachers. Teachers should be teaching reading, writing and arithmetic, not character. That’s the parent’s job.

        We have created, and continuing to create, generations of wussies.

        Lest you think that I was a “bully”, growing up I was usually the one “bullied” and picked last in almost all sports. And do you know what folks, it HELPED me by building CHARACTER which is something fewer and fewer of kids have today. Lack of character makes a kid think that because he was “bullied” he can go and blow out the brains of the kid that did the bullying.

        Parents are responsible for building character in their children, not teachers. I realize that very few people will agree with in today’s society. Most people think that teachers need to be controlling everything that kids do (like in the article above). I think that’s backwards.

        Is there is any doubt as to why when I was growing up teachers stuck to JUST teaching and America had the best schools in the world and today American schools are one of the lowest ranked of any industrialized nation?

        • Your view is limited to your own experience. Some of us had teachers who went above and beyond because they are good human beings. Parents can’t know every single thing that goes on in school because kids don’t always tell for various reasons, and frankly, some kids have neglectful (and worse) parents, so what is wrong with a teacher acting from the good of her heart to support these children in the ways they know how to do it? Please don’t suggest that just because someone has a job that it’s not okay for them to do more because they can and have it in them to do so.

        • What happens if you’re right, and it is the parents’ fault? What happens if they still don’t step-up and great teachers stop caring about their kids beyond the realm of the three R’s? Will the world improve? Will these crises with our youth stop? If not, then your complaining is perpetuating the problem.
          I would argue, also, that kids learn more and better from someone that they respect and have a positive relationship with.
          I have lived this, and it’s true. I am a teacher.

        • Ron, and how do you propose to teach the parents what you say they don’t teach their children?

        • “Parents should be teaching their kids character.” I’ve been teaching high school for 22 years, and I’d have to say that at least 50% of parents expect teachers to do that for them or don’t believe that there’s any problem with their son or daughter’s character–even if that student lies, cheats, steals, bullies, sleeps through classes, cuts classes, etc. Of the 50% who do believe in teaching their children character–some of them are teaching a type of character exemplified by reality television and social networking and will fight teachers and administrators to the wall for daring to suggest a better way of dealing with life choices, conflicts, and social dynamics. While we are teaching any given subject, ALL of these things are happening in every classroom. We are not just preparing academics, we ARE indeed, preparing citizens.

        • Hey Ron,
          How old are your kids?

        • Ron, USA was at it’s lowest educational standard in the 70’s, and began (slowly) improving again in the 80’s. Before the 70’s (the “great generation”), most families had 2 parents, one at home full time and the other came home after a mere 8 hours of work. Nobody has that family today. What’s are we to do?

        • You obviously have never heard of the report A Nation At Risk. It was issued researched over a period of years and issued in 1983 about America’s schools because we were considered to not be keeping up with the rest of the civilized world. So I don’t know when you grew up with the “best schools in the world.” But it wasn’t any time since the 80s.

        • Ron–

          Have you heard of the phrase, “it takes a village”?

      • Ron and Annaliese, I tried a different approach chosing teams. I selected 6 team captains. They were the least popular kids in the class. Next I picked 6 more kids, the next least popular kids, and the team captains had to pick from them. I continued this through the last group when the most popular kids were the last selected for the groups. Sure, within each group one had to be last but the next time the last place students were place in groups so all had opportunity to be first or second picked.

    • Annita, Why have kids choose teams at all – ever? Why not quickly draw sticks (with kids’ names or numbers) for the sides, do odd and even numbers, group by clothing color, playing cards with black going to one team, and red to the other team etc. We never have kids pick teams in our classroom. Did you ever imagine what it must be like to be picked last? I certainly don’t think it’s any better to be picked first because the teacher said this time we would pick the ones first who are always picked last. We have an awesome gym teacher in our school, who is fantastic at helping the kids build character and be kind, and you would never hear of him having captains pick teams.

  52. I just finished reading this article. I am moved by the teachers actions. Is there somewhere to find out how she helped the students, once they were identified has needing help. How did she help them? I would like to know what I could do if I were in the same situation.

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  55. I loved this article! I was horrible at math until my 4th grade math teacher pulled me aside and gave me encouragement. At the end of the year, I got a perfect score on my math exam, and went on to represent my school at math tests! Just that little push, and now I’m a Statistics teacher!

  56. I wasn’t bullied until middle school, so this is something that should be continued through the years. In addition, most of the people who made me feel terrible WERE teachers. One particular teacher almost drove me to near madness. She didn’t know, but at the time I was in 11th grade and watching my mom fight for her life after a botched surgery. In addition, I was taking 2 college classes and several AP courses…clearly not the scum she treated me to be. I stayed after class to get help on an assignment and she told me that she didn’t like me. After that, she blatantly ignored me…when she would ask a question in class and I would try to participate, she would act like I didn’t exist. I was so stressed and highly depressed that year. In addition, one of my best friends stabbed me in the back and I only had 1 real friend…and to be honest, if it hadn’t been for her, I don’t know what condition I would be in today, if I were even alive. There were definitely times I considered turning to violence because I felt like I was falling through the cracks. Nobody cared about me or asked me how things were going…and everyone depended on me so heavily at that time. It isn’t easy to be ridiculed by a teacher at school and then go home to clear your mom’s picc line, rush her to emergency surgery etc. But NOBODY CARED. To this day it drives me nuts. This particular teacher haunted my future too…who knew that I would end up in the very field that she “taught”. It took me 2 years in college to gain enough confidence to declare Chemistry as my major, and I’m still battling with confidence issues in pursuing a future doctorate in the same field. I have thought about emailing her many times, I still need closure. But what would I say??? The ultimate revenge is to show her how successful I am in the very field she told me “not to bother” with. And I’d really like to tell her all of this stuff, too. It doesn’t help that I am extremely introspective. I blamed myself for everything; the fact that she hated me, the fact that she thought I was a useless piece of crap. Still battling those, and some days I think she is right. Anyways, my point here is that there needs to be some sort of program like this in middle/high school, that INCLUDES teachers as possible culprits of bullying. I tried to go to the principal over this woman many times, only after months of ignoring me. Other students disliked her too, but were bribed with food and other goods to say that she improved. How disgusting.

    • Reading this type of essay just makes me crazy. I became a teacher because I knew teachers like this…people who would bully and make kids feel like they were lesser beings. I hate that stuff! It is disgusting. I am glad that you pursued your dreams. Chemistry is a tough field. For you to even think about a doctorate, you must be pretty good at it. Please, think about this. Your reaction to her is your reaction. By working on it, you can change your reaction. Please don’t let this woman poison any of the rest of your life. Move on, and leave that old hieffer behind you. She is not worth your energy. When you have kids, make sure that they don’t have to put up with what you did. Blessings on you. You were incredibly brave as a young student, and you are even braver now.

    • I am so sorry that this happened to you. It happened to me, too, on a smaller scale. Hang in there. It wasn’t your fault, and you are obviously amazing, no thanks to the people who didn’t care when you needed them.

    • You are very courageous and strong! Thank you for sharing! It is important that teachers remember why we are teachers and I promise the strength it took you to share, despite the hurt, will change lives! God doesn’t make mistakes, there are no coincidences. Every struggle has strengthened you and allowed you to become the successful woman you are today! WHEN you earn your Doctorate, please walk across that stage with the knowledge that we are proud of you! We care! I have no doubt that every real educator will be pulling for you! You are the wind beneath our wings, the ‘WHY’ to our purpose! You have inspired those of us that you will never meet, except through the spirit that drives us to make a difference every day, despite the odds! You are worth it!

      Sending much love and light, you are never alone on this purposeful path! Be Blessed!

    • Iz, I was bullied by a teacher too, though it was only one teacher at one time, and it was nothing compared to more than a decade of being brought down by my peers. I have to wonder about the statement in this article that most bullying happens outside teachers’ views. It was so blatant for so long that it’s hard to imagine how the teachers couldn’t have known. … That was 20, nearly 30, years ago though, and perhaps less is allowed to pass unaddressed now. I hope things have changed.

  57. I am a 66 year old. I served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, so am no wimp. Even so, I grew up bullied by dad and others at school, we moved around quiet a bit, following dad’s career. My mom died when I was eleven, so I was wounded as well. Being the New kid at school was the pits. The reason I am writing is that the most memorable bullies were the teachers. Of those, the ones at the middle school in the shadow of the future Columbine HS in Littleton, Co. I left Euclid in June 1964, just finishing 9th grade. I have never missed those cruel elitist teachers I knew at Euclid. When I heard about the Columbine shootings it was no surprise to me, even after so many decades. I had witness the root sickness there so many years ago. It’s roots are not of Littleton originally, it was planted there by teachers from Baltimore. It is all I heard from them for 4 years. I got the message, they were superior to us westerners.

  58. I just read this article in Reader’s Digest and I was floored (in a good way). Wanting to send a copy to a few educators in my circle, I was glad to find it online here (so I don’t have to type it in manually). I am 67 years old and on the autism spectrum, but I didn’t get diagnosed until 1996. It’s part of that drill that you get bullied mercilessly in school. When I told my mother about that a few years back, she said “Why didn’t you tell me? We would have done something about it.” I told her that’s not the type of thing that kids talk about, that they’re actually ashamed of being bullied. This account has the potential to change a lot of lives, and I’m glad to see it get such good exposure. Bravo!

  59. a fantastic piece of insight…I have shared your story with both superintendents in my community!
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  61. This needs to become a movement in ALL schools. We can think of quick fixes and immediate changes like: should we have guns in school to use as protection? Or: Does the school need a police officer standing in front? But what can we do that will make a lasting impact on the lives of children? How can we insure that all children feel nurtured and safe in their classroom? This teacher has it figured out and I hope that schools start picking up on this quickly!

    • My biggest fear was that my kids could ever been bullied for other kids. Thank God they are perfectly fine at school. Anyways even when they are senior high schools now, I try to talk to them not just about been bullied or been a bully, but about standing up for those lonely kids. My daughter is a sociable kid (she’s 17) and she has a normal teenager life, but I try to make her understand that some other kids have a though difficult time trying to socialize and sometimes all they need is someone to bring in them in the conversations or just a smile, or a simple hi how are you doing. It can make a difference and makes you feel good about yourself. I hope she’s implementing this behavior at school, because that teacher is right, many of this tragedies in our schools are the direct consequence of years and years of segregation, social isolation, marginalization, segregation and the worst the bully. Maybe if we start at home teaching our kids to be friendly, respectful and supportive with other kids, we’ll have success and all these terrible tragedies decreased…

      • Please define What is a NORMAL teenager? I mean no disrespect, however, what about Individualization!! We should be able to be who we want to be, even if its different than the “Normal” And still be treated fair and equal as normal does….

        • Yes. “Normal” is a setting on my washing machine. I think it is far more empowering for young people to learn that they are important and valued for who they are, regardless of whether they fit the “norm” (and perhaps especially if they don’t).

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  64. And what does she do with this info? Scare every parent of a kid in her class? Your child may be a serial killer one day or a self-employed computer programmer. Really? Well, he likes to sit alone and work by himself. No one ever wants to work with him. Maybe, teacher, he has Aspergers and there is no need for you to know the info we haven’t decided to give you since you have no program for people with this diagnosis. Meddling school personnel are the last thing most people need in their life. Trust me.

    • I am really sorry, you must have had such a horrible experience with an educator to make you so bitter. I am not a teacher, but I am a parent. While my son is not on the spectrum he has pretty severe ADHD. We have told every teacher he has had since his diagnosis. From some of them we have gotten very little, but from others we have gleaned multiple pearls of wisdom regarding the best ways to help our son learn and work within the organized classroom. I really hope that you can move beyond your past experiences because you may be missing out on some wonderful resources for your child.

    • Please read the comment that I just posted. I was one of those who went by the wayside because of ASD. I was a “problem child” that wound up being bullied by both my classmates AND my teachers, because I could not get along, and because I was not “living up to my potential.” I just returned from a local autism rally, and was glad to see the kids getting the extra attention and education they need to have rich lives. I can only wish I’d had a teacher like this. I probably would have had a much better — and easier — life!

    • As a middle school teacher (a special education teacher of 11 years) and a parent myself, we can only work so many miracles on a daily basis. When we are not supported at home, by following through with homework, extra help, etc., it is extremely difficult to help make connections with our students…especially when parents CHOOSE to withhold important information, such as a student with Asperger’s. I am curious to know why you hold that information from your child’s teachers. Just because there isn’t a labeled “program” for your child, perhaps the individual teacher has resources available to work wonders with him….if only they had the information from YOU as a parent. Maybe you could consider that and not continually set your child up for failure each year with the lack of information you supply his teachers.

  65. I believe our children see their schools as Godless places because too many parents are telling their children, they are taking God out of our schools. Have you ever thought about how your kids might see this? Are you promoting the idea that God is weak and our schools, our government, and our nation has power over him. The image is evil being in control.
    Our Children should never be told, they can’t pray in school. School is rough on kids in many ways. It’s a comfort to some to believe they can pray, anytime they want or need to talk with him.

    If we love God, why are we teaching our children about a God that is so weak man controls where he is allowed to exist. We should be teaching our children that we serve an ALL POWERFUL GOD -that cannot be put out of anything as long as he is in the hearts of the people GOD is there!

    The teacher that inspired me most never said a word about church or God. The way she treated every student and made each feel good about who they were; taught us more about the true God than a thousand public prayers.

    This woman inspired me to become a teacher. I’m retired now and my fifth grade teacher left this world a long time ago but her influence lives on. I now hear it in statements made by some of my students, (adult now, but still Facebook friends).. God & Goodness never perishes it’s life and energy itself. You don’t have to believe at all, you just have to believe in the children, even ones that feel they are hopeless.

    • Children are allowed to pray anytime they’d like. No one is trying to take away that religious freedom. It’s the prayer lead by a teacher or administrator that shouldn’t happen. If it’s a public school, there should not be any mandated prayer, period. Religion should be taught in a religion class and that’s it. Your child can pray all day long if they so choose. People misunderstand when they hear “taking god out of schools.” He was never there to begin, nor should he be. If you allow your version of god to be mandated, then every person of every faith will want the same thing. Separation of church and state is a good thing and I can’t understand why some people choose not to understand it that way. Teach your child religion and faith at home and church, and religious facts in a religion class. Simple.

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  67. I am a School Social Worker in Illinois, specifically a community 30 miles south of Chicago, that is in complete poverty. Prior to this assignment, I was in a suburb, west of the city, where poverty was not a concern. I value teachers more then you know. It is my job to come into the classroom to provide Social/Emotional lessons, as well as individual counseling. Until my profession is valued, there will be more of “crisis intervention” then “prevention.” It is the teachers job to teach, and the SW’s job to promote social/emotional curriculum. Teachers can’t do it all. It is not fair, and it is not their “true” responsibility. When a whole team of professionals work together, we can get the job done. There is a lack of SW’s in schools….sometimes one for every 800 kids. Kids today, all kids, and not just Special Ed kids, need support from the School Social Workers.

  68. Ajijah has hit at least one nail on the head! (posted on Feb. 14) Did you know that other countries DO NOT count their special needs kids into their national numbers? They do it the way Ajijah stated – in the eighth grade all students are tested and it is determined then if the student goes into an advanced academic/regular academic or trade/vocational school. And the numbers they put out on their countries websites only reflect the ones that will continue in academics. Not the ones going on to trade schools and especially not the special education kids with the really low scores. Our schools have to test all their students and all of the scores count for or against the school, the district, the state and ultimately our national rankings in education.

    Our country has sold our children a bill of goods that is wrong and used biased statistics from other countries to scare parents into believing that our children are stupid and the teachers are not teaching. Our country has done a grave disservice to our chilren – making good teachers change their methods so all can pass the test, making students test EVERY year – but stacking the deck because our numbers will never be equal to other countries because the demographics of who is being counted will never be the same.

    • I was unaware that other countries base the education rates on only the college bound. Of course this would ‘Skew the Waters’ a bit… To say the least.

      Could you share links to any resources for this? Thanks in advance… Now you got me curious! If this is such the case, then we have really been fed a load of bull!

    • I never knew this! I’d love to read related articles. As a teacher I spend a lot of time trying to determine how to improve. This would explain a lot.

    • This is true – when we lived in Germany our German friends had children who were “sorted” into one of 3 tracks – college, high school, and vocational. This sorting started at age 11. The only students who ever would take those standardized tests were the ones going to college. Same when we lived in Italy with our Italian friends. Parents could override the school and place their child in a more challenging track, but for the most part, all the kids in the college track would compare to the kids in the US taking AP/IB/Honors classes.

      No other country tests everyone the way we do. It completely skews the statistics to our disadvantage. I’m a teacher and it’s frustrating to me when I see valuable, worthy children who are not college material struggling or being made to feel “wrong” because they didn’t score well on a standardized test. These children are often gifted in other ways – art, music, sports, building things…yet those talents are overlooked in favor of who scores the highest.

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  72. I have read your comments and believe that teachers have a responsibility to not only to teach the basics but to instill in each member of their class an understanding that if they offer each other respect and kindness, they will receive it back. Helping each other feels good, and there are schools that teach that very thing. Teachers have a responsibility to share and learn from each all philosophies that are used in all schools.
    Did you know:
    The Waldorf School of Garden City is an independent, coeducational, college-preparatory day school for students age three through twelfth grade.
    The Waldorf Schools educate children to meet the world with purpose, gratitude and respect.
    “Our curriculum, inspired by Rudolf Steiner, progresses in accordance with child development, awakening students to the experience of knowledge, strengthening their sense of moral responsibility, and empowering them to act with courage and conviction.”
    The school’s aim is to graduate a diverse group of young men and women distinguished by the scope and acuity of their minds as well as the depth and integrity of their character.
    Founded in 1947, their philosophy is based on the values of imagination, integrity, hard work, kindness, personal and social responsibility, and mutual respect. They provide a rigorous, liberal arts education that focuses on the development of the whole human being. Emphasis is placed on a multidisciplinary approach to learning through a curriculum that balances the physical, artistic, social and intellectual needs of our students. With a nurturing environment and diverse community students are enabled to excel as educated and compassionate individuals whose lives are enriched by their lifelong passion for learning. Consider sharing this with others.

    • Waldorf = school for rich kids.

      • Waldorf is not necessarily for rich kids. When I was in grad school 1994-96 to get my teaching degree, I learned of a project to convert failing schools in one of our inner cities to Waldorf supported by the same amount of tax money. I don’t recall the city, but education officials there had tried everything and Waldorf worked. That didn’t surprise those of us “in the field” studying and observing so many schools during our two years. Also, many of us who are not Waldorf teachers use Waldorf methods in the public schools.

        • $10k for PREESCHOOL and $23k for k-12 grade is rediculous ! It’s great the government felt the need to pay the schools tuition as a special interest project as crazy priced as it is, . Even if there is an endowment that helps families pay some of that it’s almost double the cost of even prep school where I live. That’s crazy everyday people can’t afford that! Look at the Newsday article the school is written about on March 22nd of this year where they published the tuition… Use of these methods is commendable, as are those of Maria Montessori,and Boys Town but they don’t cost that much to implement and any parent of a Montessori student can effectively communicate the methods used there. It’s a shame that public schools can’t just agree to use proven methods like those. :(

          • Perhaps there is a Waldorf-inspired charter school in your area. These are no-tuition public schools.

    • Waldorf schools are horrible environments where children’s need are secondary to the needs of the school and the “mission” of the school – which is to spread Anthroposophy. Parents aren’t told about the school’s mission before they enroll – and that is why Waldorf schools get so much well-deserved bad press. They hide their philosophy because most parents in Waldorf would pull their kids out if they knew the details. I’ve documented hundreds of complaints from former Waldorf parents regarding systemic problems in Waldorf schools – especially bullying and the inherent dishonesty of their representatives. Click on my name for the link.

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  74. Hi Glennon,

    This is beautiful. Once you’ve identified the lonely children, you can easily match them up with the children who are leaders in your class and create change.
    One day my son told me a story about a child , let’s call him John, that everyone always ‘pushes away’, that is never invited to participate. I was very upset to hear this and decided to challenge him to look for opportunities to include John, pick him first for the team, ask him to be his partner. It’s been three months and my son has made progress. Not only am I helping John through my child, but I am empowering my child to be a leader, to look for opportunities to be great, to do what others won’t do. If we could all teach our children to be inclusive, it would be a better world.

    • Beautiful example!

      • Great! Now her son will feel like he has to be responsible for all the underdogs. What ever happened to letting kids be kids and play without all this suffocating helicopter parenting? Funny how she says I’m helping this kid. Using her son. Maybe she should put her money where her mouth is and volunteer in the school or befriend the child’s guardians. Just because it sounds sweetly nice does not mean people are thinking in the best interests of their kids.

  75. Amazing. What an amazing teacher and person. How blessed those children are. And thanks for sharing with others. So beautiful.

  76. While the gist of the article is phenomenal, I’m left with one rather disparaging question. What does/can she do with the information that she collects? I have been teaching for quite some time. I find talking with counselors is like talking to a wall. They seem to be overworked, understaffed, and fearful of any liability to the school district. This isn’t just my school district that I currently teach, but several that I have taught at.

    Also, tragically, when I identified one stood who was “disconnected”, I felt it prudent to talk with the parents. We had what I thought was a really positive meeting with the teachers, counselors, principal, and parents. Only to find out days later, it was the parents that were making this poor child the way he was. The parents put on such a good act.

    One can talk with the children affected, but this can make a bully wiser and harder to catch because they know you are “on to them”. It can also make the one being bullied more reluctant to speak out next time because you talking with the bully and the bullied made things worse.

    Yes, bullying is a major problem. The article addresses how to identify it. This is a great start. My question, what did this particular teacher finally do with the information when she got it. That’s truly the article I would like to read.

    • It seems to me that she ought to have introduced the child to another , and suggested they be friends; that they play together at recess; that they work together on a class project. The teacher must hopefully have set many interactive – connecting activities into focus. Music, art, DRAMA – – social skills training are all coming to the fore in teaching again. Thank God

      • The last time i taught was in a school with highly professional and vocal parents. The principal didn’t allow us to teach those topics or skills because it took time from testable ones. To increase test scores we were so busy with new training toward that end, we were too busy to allow time for humane topics. In Seattle Schools those teachers with low test scores were forced out. I felt like I was teaching robots because I couldn’t teach students as humans. And no, I’m not teaching anymore. Sad, because that’s why I went into teaching in the first place.
        I think I initially wanted to teach because in the fourth grade I had a teacher whom I felt didn’t like me. I loved the s r a books but I read them all too early. In addition, my mom was depressed and I felt so invisable. I teased a new girl at recess and the teacher called my mom. Of course, my mom treated me with disdain so I felt worse. The strip of paper are great because they circumvent poor parents. When my own sons mentioned kids whom they felt were ignored, I asked them if they wanted to invite them over to play they always said yes and the kids became good friends in and out of school. Yahoo to you for pubicly bringing the heart back into teaching!

    • I thought the same thing. I’m sure she could definitely gather and sort the information, although anonymous, based upon the child/children never mentioned. But then, what was the follow-through? This is such a good piece of information and I will be passing this along!

    • I believe that everything we develop into starts in the home…or in the lack of a home.
      “Children are the only known substance with which responsible adults can be made” (Author unknown)

      I know, from my own experience, that just having a teacher show that they care, can sometimes be ‘enough’ to start a child on the right track. You don’t have to be perfect yourself, but give the child a taste of the good that IS in the world.

      • I hurt very much throughout middle school, feeling like I had no true, loyal friends. My music teacher really showed an interest in me and it meant everything to me during that hard time. I’m not sure if she had any idea what I was going through or what she meant to me, but I had occasion to meet her as an adult, and made sure to express my profound sense of gratefulness.

        • I am so glad that you were able to express your thanks to your music teacher later in life. It must have meant a lot to herl

          • And this teacher didn’t have to manipulate anybody to be positive in a child’s life. Hooray for a normal adult teacher!

    • I am going to assume that she might have changed seats around to have the “lonely” kids sit with others that she knows might be good for them? Or perhaps she would try to acknowledge those that aren’t nominated just so that they know someone cares?

  77. This is a teacher who went into her profession because she loved children….and proved by her actions…we will never know how many lives she saved….God bless!!!!

  78. THIS WAS A TEACHER WHO WENT INTO THE PROFESSION BECAUSE SHE LOVED CHILDREN…AND PROVED IT….WHAT A TOUCHING STORY…WE WILL NEVER KNOW HOW MANY LIVES SHE SAVED…GOD BLESS!!!

  79. Thanks for finally talking about > Share This With All the Schools, Please
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  80. What a nice story. The other comments were very revealing, too…what a commentary on the state of our profession.
    Personally, I was glad the writer didn’t spoon feed us with instructions about how to use this information. Our business is far too “cookie cutter” as it is! We are all unique people, and the dynamics in our classrooms are all unique. I think there are a million creative interventions that could result from this exercise…which we can each discover for ourselves if we simply take the time to creatively reflect.
    To Greta: I hope you have an awesome and rewarding day!

    • Great story that I am passing on to my school.
      Thankyou

    • I love your comment Jo. Yes, cookie cutter is not the answer, but I think a structure can be helpful. I’ll bet that this lovely woman trusts her intuition and does something slightly different each time. We are individual. Kids are individual. When we are clear and stand in a place of love, I believe we know how to serve.

  81. Hello, I had a friend share your information on her facebook page and I copied it down and posted it on my blog. It really moved me. I hope that’s okay with you. If not, just send me an email and I’ll take it down. I also posted the link to your blog and gave you credit for the post. Thanks in advance. This is an awesome story!

  82. while I find this article overall a sweet reflection of what good teachers offer our children … the sentence “We agreed that subjects like math and reading are the least important things that are learned in a classroom.” bothers me… first, for the simple reason that ultimately what teachers are there for is to teach our children skills they use for the rest of their lives to obtain jobs, enter into contracts etc. Without these skills, they will be lost to poverty. But, more ironically, she uses these “least important” skills to see deeper into the emotional make up of her kids. By reading the little slips of paper and using math to calculate patterns. So, if her childhood teachers had taken the stance that reading and math were least important and only concerned themselves with the emotional state of the kids… well, perhaps she wouldn’t have been skilled enough to have even become a teacher. Again, I’m not slamming the article or her desire to assist kids with the emotional side of life, it is as noble as this article points out. However, to bash reading and math as unimportant or least important, I think does a disservice to the entire teaching profession as these are more important to a life long healthy life than temporary classroom standings. Most students have experienced being bullied, being left out or even being the smarty pants of the classroom, ultimately, for most students… these have no impact on the remainder of their lives. But, not knowing how to read or work out math problems will have a huge impact on the remainder of their lives. I believe a good teacher can do both.. now perhaps that comment was trivial to some, but, I think it points out what is wrong with education today. We are expecting teachers to teach emotional balance rather than reading, writing, and arithmetic. We wonder why American schools are dropping in standing compared to the rest of the world… this is why. I’m not saying they should ignore the emotional… as they face it everyday in their classrooms and it affects how students learn. But, lets not forget or diminish what the ultimate goal of teaching, a child who is able to read, write and calculate math problems.

    • She didn’t “bash reading and math”. And there was no talk about teachers “teaching emotional balance”. Did you even read the article?

      It’s about keeping children invested in the classroom – a child who is disconnected from his or her peers is not likely to be interested in learning anything. You can’t teach a child who doesn’t want to learn. I disagree that being bullied has “no impact on the remainder of their lives”….a number of interviews have shown that it does have detrimental impact on the emotional lives of students, often for a long period of time afterwards.

      She is also largely addressing the need to reduce school violence. Are you aware that there have been 44 school shootings since Newtown? 44! If I was a teacher in school today, I’d be darn concerned about avoiding school violence. A bullet-proof vest wouldn’t be a bad investment either.

      • Well said.

      • Amen.

      • In the last part of this wonderful article it states: “We don’t care about the damn standardized tests. We only care that you teach our children to be Brave and Kind.” But that isn’t true. I do care about the standardized tests and I do care about each child’s emotional well being as well. So I do not disagree with what Vtiff posted nor do I disagree with you. Not only have there been 44 shootings since Newton but there have been 100’s of shootings before Newton and possibly this teacher has found a critical clue to help reduce that number but we cannot “not care about standardized testing”. Both are important in the future of our students.

    • Did you read that at all? A child who is not connected is not learning math or reading. My daughter has kids like this in her classroom. I’ve seen these kids, the 12-year-old who can’t read. He is neglected at home, and rejected at school, and he is on a scary path. I’ve talked with him, and spent time with him, and even looked at some artwork he shared. This kid is obsessed with violence, and I’m sort of relieved that my daughter won’t be in school with him next year. He won’t learn. He’ll continue to be an underachiever, until he finally gives up on the school system, and drops out. So yes, reading and math are the least important skills. And bullying has a huge impact on kids, or have you not heard all the many news stories about young people committing suicide over bullying? Are you even a parent, because you really have no clue.

      • Good reply, Charm. Except you had to take that little stab at the end. Are you even a HUMAN, because YOU really have no clue.

      • So what great teacher(s) kept passing him when he could not read? That s a true educational problem. But we don’t want to do our job. We want to act compassionate, it is easier than doing our job. Problem is the only place you get paid for it, you have to pretend to be interested in teaching.

      • Still think reading is important. Reading and connecting. I wasn’t connected, but I loved to read and that helped me to connect eventually. Let’s agree it was a poor choice of words for the author to dismiss math or reading. It’s simplistic to think that if a child isn’t connected, they don’t have the capacity to learn.

    • When I was in high school, I was shy, kept to myself, and drew during classes. Most teachers told me to stop, or they would get irritated that I’d be drawing instead of listening to them (when in fact the opposite was true, drawing helped me focus). I had an English teacher that decided that instead of getting upset, she’d encourage that. She switched up the curriculum so that instead of writing book reports we could give a visual presentations instead, which included different mediums: food related to the book, artwork of all mediums, and if you didn’t like presenting you could write a long paper (So most kids tapped their creative talents). Anyway, what I’m getting at is that having a teacher encourage me to draw while she was talking and complimenting my artwork instead of ignoring me or getting upset made a bigger difference in my life than grammatical sentence structure ever did. I went on to become a relatively successful graphic designer/illustrator because I had her encouraging me to get into art college instead of telling me to grow up. Sometimes, the biggest thing that can impact a student isn’t what’s being taught from the lesson plan.

      • Lovely Tiffany, I am glad that things worked out for you in the end. I like your comment “Sometimes, the biggest thing that can impact a student isn’t what’s being taught from the lesson plan.” Bless you.

    • I find the ultimate goal of teaching is to teach kids to think and to become contributors. Some kids will better at math than reading and writing. Some will be strong readers and writers. But the individual skills are less important than the ability to think, navigate and solve problems and communicate with others.

      I’m hoping that what this brilliant math teacher does with the information she collects is provide opportunities for kids to excel and therefore be recognized and noticed by their peers. Helping to create opportunities for those kids to experience success will help develop some confidence which will create a cycle opposite the negative cycle caused by apathy and helplessness. Kudos to this very smart lady. No doubt she will be a loss felt by students and teachers.

    • Without emotionally stable children and a culture in the schools that promotes these type of activities the kids will not even have a chance to learn math and reading. I can promise that the environment she established in her class has lead to better learning across the board. This is true for kids in class and adults at work.

    • I honestly don’t think the writer meant math/reading were unimportant literally… I believe it’s being used to demonstrate that although this is the reason why they are there, to learn these skills, there is a much more important skill, that left unattended could ultimately make the learning of these more important skills, take a backseat. If the things that she discovers from the little papers are left to ‘fix’ themselves, most often these small social issues will deeply affect the learning process of our children. I’d rather my child get their seat changed, or have a little push to find new friends, (to study with?) than have underlying issues that upset them to the point that they’re, angry, doing drugs, committing suicide and killing other people. On a whole I think this woman saved/saves lives, she did what she believed was not only helpful at that moment, but for the future to come. Wonder how many of these children have not turned to drugs or picked up a gun because of this…I have to say that I, personally, think what she’s done/doing is commendable, it’s brave, it’s smart and it costs us not a thing. It’s a good thing.

    • vtiff said exactly what I was thinking! You are right on the money! I like what Tony said too – except that I don’t want them teaching only things that will be on the test but actually learning and the testing showing what they’ve learned – nothing was said about mainstreaming kids which is a real problem when they have to pay attention to kids with so many emotional and physical problems that they can’t teach the other kids reading – writing and math

  83. This sounds wonderful. What did the teacher do to make the situation better for these children, once they have been identified? What methods did she use that worked and helped them make friends and feel included? This would be the information that should be shared with everyone.

  84. Big deal. What a load of hyper emotional crap. Anyone can pick a lonely kid or a bully or isolated kid within 5 minutes of meeting them. It’s how the teacher turns those kids around to stop them feeling isolated is where we should recognise her merits as a teacher. Not a bunch of lists. There is no way that she is stopping a mass murderer from emerging. That takes a whole community over a whole lifetime.

    • You’re very negative. You assume she doesn’t do anything with the lists and the information gleaned from them. While the story does’t give details of the exact actions she takes the story does say she acts on it.

      • But the actions are what we can all learn from. To celebrate someone who apparently can identify the ‘disconnected” is very shallow. Every teacher can do that – it is how they reconnect them is far more inspiring. This article puts too much emphasis on a teacher who thinks she is god’s gifts to teachers because she has worked out that there are disconnected kids in her classroom. It’s an overemotional, shallow, and pointless article that doesn’t help anyone else in the teaching industry help other students in their own schools. Time for this teacher and the author of this article to grow up and act like a professional.

        • Wow, Greta…what happened to you? I was bullied, have a learning disability and was terminally shy, for the longest time. When I teacher, in today’s system, goes beyond the basic…I’m impressed. To call the article “shallow” is beyond disconnected to the true sentiment. If you don’t like something…guess what? You don’t have to read or follow the author. Insulting them by telling them to grow up is more of a self-reflection, don’t you think?

        • I think you are the one who is shallow – never mind the positive things this article has to offer , lets jump up and have a hoo – haa because I have nothing better to do. You’re out of it. What about – each and every individual or child in need of attention requires a different medication – there isn’t a one-stop solution. Only the teacher will know and understand how to make the appropriate change – use your RORO.

        • Greta,I am a teacher. I do pay attention to my students beyond their test scores. As the year goes on in my full classroom, I am continually noticing things about students that I did not the first week. I then direct a little more of my attention and also other students in subtle ways to be more inclusive.
          I do not hear the teacher bragging about herself. It is the parent thanking her and I thank them both for inspiring me to continue doing what I do.

    • Dear Greta, From your response i can only assume you have never taught – or never taught a classroom, or more than one class at a time, or a class with more than 5 kids in it. Teachers have a LOT of things to do and kids do fall through the cracks even with the best of intentions. Also, what kids do in class and how they behave to each other out of class can be very different. So yes, this teacher’s system is rather brilliant, to monitor the lonely left behind kids,
      And IMHO, if you think “emotional crap” hyper or otherwise shouldn’t be part of education, you shouldn’t come anywhere near education. Education isn’t only about teaching content and skills – its also about caring for people; and that my friend is a pretty emotional thing.

      • Personally, if Or when my kids have needed any interventions for mental health or diagnosis or medication, I pick the professional, pay for it, provide transportation until it is no longer needed or someone or something else is needed. I would avoid anyone who works with the school system or a teacher who is a psychologist wanna-be.

        • .. And you should be thankful. You obviously have the knowledge and the means to be able to support your child in such a way, however, the child sitting in the corner of your child’s classroom, neglected by all… Has a different perspective and your child will be effected. Just keeping it real.

    • Compassion and consideration are supposed to be cornerstones of any professional teaching strategy, maybe Greta had one too many bad experiences………….!

      I think it is a lovely item, but wish that a follow-up, e.g. what does she do when she identifies a lonely, unhappy student?

    • Greta.

      Either your not a teacher or a parent, maybe neither by the sounds of things.
      What this teacher did was inspirational. It was her list, whatever this comprises of, it was the list that was part of her math pattern, which without it, she would not have been able to identify those who needed her help.
      She also used her time to discover this, which some teachers don’t give up their own time to help their students in need. So yea, good on her in what she has done, it is obvious that you are not a woman who would go out of your way, to help anyone but yourself. Hmmm!! Now to me, it sounds like you maybe a bully too, when you should know better. When I was younger, I was one one who used to get bullied and it went unrecognized, fortunately, I did not get to the point where I felt suicidal, I was one of the very few lucky ones, so yes I can see where this teacher is going with what she did, I just wished there was more positive in people than there was negative. And boy don’t you just give off negative vibes, try and be a little positive for once, as nobody likes negative people. If you don’t like what this teacher has done or how she has gone about it, then don’t follow the post or at least keep your negative thoughts to yourself, nobody wants to hear folks whining. Rant over.

    • To an extent this is true. Sandy Hook is a wonderful school filled with wonderful teachers. They didn’t prevent the problem. Nothing they could have done would have prevented that problem.

  85. I would like to start implementing this in my classroom. I understand most of this. However, how does she figure out who the bullies are?

    • My guess is that the bullies could be the kids who get too much attention at first and then begin to lose it. Whether or not she can identify bullies using the paper method, she can know to be more aware of the relationships in the classroom based on children’s answers.

    • My thought is that after awhile the kids share more than just names of who they want to sit by and maybe the choices the kids make on the best classroom citizen show a pattern and tell her why some kids are not chosen.

  86. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.

  87. t is one amazing teacher!!! I applaud her efforts and I’m glad this mother has acknowledged her. However I disagree with the author on one critical point found in her last two paragraphs. Unarguably teachers can have a lasting impression on our children. However, ultimately it is our responsibility as parents to shape character, to model, teach and instill good morals, values and principles in our children. Our teachers have a big enough challenge as it stands to educate our children. We cannot expect them to also assume the responsibilities of parents. The family is the most fundamental unit of society and there is no substitute for good parenting. Ultimately it is the teaching and rearing that happens within our homes that most influences our communities. What is the saying? The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. So while I’m grateful for good teachers who REINFORCE the good that is taught in my home. I accept that it is MY responsibility to teach my children to be kind and brave and would suggest that PARENTS are the first line of defense. Unfortunately too many parents today would like to pass their responsibility on to others. No nanny, daycare or teacher, even the best Sunday school teacher, can ever make up for what should be taught in the home, by dedicated, loving and involved parents.

    • Mother of 5, you rock!, along with Chase´s brilliant teacher! Totally agree with you. I am blessed to have grown up in a family-oriented community and to have passed that on to my wonderful kids. There´s no substitute for good parenting and dedicated teaching, period.

    • “should be taught at home”

      And when it’s not, it effects all students.

  88. This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am actually happy to read all at one place.

  89. This is a very nice list of do follow blogs.This is exactly what I was looking for. It’s really very useful for me. Thank you.

  90. AMEN. Let’s get back to basics with the children we teach. What’s the point with knowledge if they don’t know how to think for themselves????

    • I so agree with you BJ! Everything is emotion nowadays! Knowledge and being able to think for yourself would go along way to fixing many problems!

  91. This is really nice and good blog it is really amazing and useful.

  92. I completely agree with Ajija’s last paragraph . Added to this, teachers are given more students than one can handle in a 40 minute period. Corrections of notebooks and other test papers become a big burden.

  93. Hello, i think that i saw you visited my weblog so i came to “return the favor”.I’m trying to find things
    to improve my website!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

  94. Enough blame to go around. Plenty for everyone. The teacher in this article develop a beautiful idea and implements it in her classroom. It appears to be a positive experience and moves individuals in a positive direction. If we can all, kids or no kids, forgo blame and pitch in anyway we know how to make life better for any reason, it has a ripple effect-little then big. The world, the earth becomes a better planet to live on. We are the majority. Let’s take it back!

  95. Beautiful. That’s why I went into teaching in the first place, and will hopefully always remain the reason I stay in it, even when times are tough, and educational trends come & go!!!!! Can I hear an AMEN from the rest of the teachers out there?

  96. Amazing! It makes me proud to be a teacher.

  97. Everything is very open with a very clear description of the issues.
    It was definitely informative. Your website is very useful.
    Many thanks for sharing!

  98. I love this teacher’s unique plan for discovering what was in the heart of each child. Many of us are trying to show character and love to children where we are. The school system in our country is broken for sure but it’s not going away any time soon. I homeschool my children and am able build their character little by little every day but many can’t, don’t know how or are unwilling to do so. Thank God for the teachers who can stand up for those children. They are the future too and will have jobs someday along with my kids. We need to show children God’s love wherever we can and not pin blame on the parents. They need love as well.

  99. I like what the teacher is doing and the motives behind it, my only issue is this…

    If the primary purpose of school is to encourage friendship and community…. Why are we doing school at all? If the teacher’s cheif concern is teaching courage and friendship then we’ve got something very backwards. Surely it would be a much easier (and more appropriate job) of the parent to teach character and community than a complete stranger? That’s not at all to say teacher’s shouldn’t try to teach those things – it’s saying that the system itself is one that is broken.

    We clamor for community and allegiance between our children when we put them in cells for 8 hours a day with kids of the exact same age and, a lot of the time, socioeconomic background. We expect ‘tolerance’ and interconnectedness when one of the principal things schools and especailly now social media teach is aloneness.

    Communities were never originially build around a school. Character wasn’t learned by Miss Smith but by mom and dad. If we’re clamoring for those things – for character and community – we need to realize that schools themselves are one of the chief stumbling blocks in their way.

    • It doesn’t help when mom and dad don’t know how to teach character. Maybe mom and dad should be the ones going to school to learn how to teach their own children. Also, communities were originally built around the churches-which often acted as the schools as well. Maybe our participation in religion and faith, and understanding the teachings of God are the key to developing children into loving and righteous individuals.

      Food for thought

      • I agree with the fact children are not born with character..it must be taught…in fact – it must be “hammered and forged”. There are so many “negatives” out there…it amazes me that only a handful of schools only teach the 3-R’s (readin’, ritin’ and rithmatic”) – isn’t it time that Respect and Responsibility become part of the core curriculum?

      • But what was her response to the study? What changes does she see when seat assignments are changed. If none of the children ever got moved from their previous seating assignment from week to week, then they would become self-conscious simply from never moving. She becomes a catalyst for the kids’ own lack of self-worth.

        So how the heck would she “pin-down” a bully-kid as opposed to simply the “less-popular kid” from several students saying they wouldn’t wish to sit beside that kid? Or even more obvious if many darker-skinned kids continuously never mentioned the lighter-skinned kids, or blondes from brunettes or boys never writing down girls names. There are dozens of combinations and reasons for kids to write down names regardless of the instructions.

        Heart-warming as the story is, I can’t see it having more merit of resolving an issue than it might be simply misdirecting a teacher’s intended side-line goal of world peace among children.

        If the teacher was so astounding, you mean to say that she didn’t wish to have her name known? IF there were positive results (not just positive intentions) then she should be praised and the system implemented in other schools. Again, a heart-warming story but moreso suspiciously vague. We often create stories to purport our own opinions or fill pages in books, so if there is any doubt or wrong, then we’re not to blame, it’s simply “Chase’s teacher” that’s the focus.

        Regardless, I would facetiously suggest to survey the kids about their parents instead. Then send surveys home to the parents to take. Have a mandatory school to teach the parents to instill confidence in their child. Kids just reflect the stress, ignorance, indignation or uncaring attitudes of the parents gained in the first 6 years before school even starts.

        “Teach your parents well. Their children’s hell will slowly go by”

        Teach the parents and the child will handle their peers on their own as a residual outcome of having self-worth from an early age.

    • I think you’re missing the point. This isn’t an either/or situation. It’s not either “Ms. Math Teacher” OR the parents teach character, but rather both. You’re right, kids spend so much time with us that as the year goes along, they become our children, and we want our children to grow up to be responsible young adults, then productive members of society. And contrary to your opinion, kids aren’t always in the same socioeconomic situation as their classmates. Situations vary wildly, even in private schools. But once those doors close, they belong to me, and I want my kids to learn to be good people. I pick up the lesson where the parents left off. We work together.

    • Well that is for sure the truth: our school systems are not what they used to be. Not only is the education outdated, our government (while teaching what a great country we are) keeps cutting the budget for schools. Teachers, who make the most difference and get paid the least, are being fired every day. We pride our country on being so advanced and yet there is less and less money for schools and curriculas are curtailed to compete with other countries. It’s sad and it has to change

    • I did not get the impression this teacher ONLY focused on this method of teaching kindness and acceptance. The notes were done once a week. They were not discussed with her class. She studied them and made her own decision. I am sure the rest of her week was spent educating her students in their core studies. As the parent of a daughter who was left out and lonely, I applaud the thoughtful, loving and discreet way this teacher tries to avoid that hurt and loneliness that plagues many children today!

      • Lonely kids as you see it are not all lost and lonely. I prefer to work independently now. I like a lot of alone time to read, play the piano, do quizzes and number and word games, write real letters to friends. I still have a great and lively imagination. Please don’t pigeon-hole your daughter by looking at her outsides. People are so much more than what you can see. This is just another way schools try to label people so they fit into preconceived categories for a one size fits all fix when nothing is broken.

    • First, schools suffer from a lack of funding, due to voter concerns that the revenues will never reach the classroom, teachers, or students; but rather, the money will go to expand or financially reward the administrative structure. The average voter is more than willing to send more dollars to the schools, provided there are clear and definitive guidelines as to who will get this money and how the money will be spent.
      Secondly, the real issue facing most teachers is really best defined as a “Crisis in Parenting”. Many parents are simply no longer disciplining their children, as well as no longer teaching values that allow them to be adding to, rather than, subtracting from society. Research as recent as 2005 shows that teachers spend 50% of classroom time teaching, and the other 50% dealing with behavior issues that disrupt the learning environment. However, when a school or teacher does enforce the rules, most parents come in to berate the teacher and/or principal, rather than apologize for their child’s behavior, and then follow through with home-based correction/instruction. In our age ov Cultural Relativism, where, “what I think is right is right”, why are so many perplexed by this outcome?
      Thirdly, exposure to a variety of cultures and socio-ecomonic backgrounds is also something some people call “world travel”. So this is great for students and hopefully teaches tolerance and respect for differences. However, a huge deterrent to this is children who come from homes where the expectation is “I’m owed (x, y, or z), chicken raised with racist attitudes (yes, they are still present), or children who suffer from abuse and mental disorders.
      Fourthly, we are over-medicating our children with drugs whose long- term effects are yet to be understood. Why? Because it’s easier to give a child q pill, than to spend the time and resources necessary to help the child.
      Fifth, like it or not, your children are soon to be primarily educated by computer programs, which much more accurately track progress, actual skill levels, and off- task time. The teacher will act as moderator/helper, while the computer does the teaching. Then, based on computer results, the child will be “tracked” into advanced academics, regular academics, or trade school, much as happens in several countries already. And, if you have a complaint, you will most likely talk to a computer, which will logically and objectively explain why your child is being reprimanded or disciplined.
      Lastly, teachers, such as the one in this article, and the ones I’ve seen at work, and who helped shape and guide my own life are rare gems and are disappearing. Why? Because they are exhausted with trying to teach your children how to behave, while simultaneously trying to teach academics; and tired of being berated and meetings where the child’s bad behavior is defended by the parent(s)/guardian. Schools aren’t broken, but they are changing due to a severe lack of proper social skills in students of all ages. 99% of all educators are “heroes”, who exhaust themselves trying to make a difference in the lives of student’s. The other 1% are just too burnt-out to continue teaching effectively, or are unable to handle the immense demands of the modern classroom. Parents, start doing your job at home, and quit expecting an institution to do it for you!

      • To me, one of the saddest problems is the lack of parenting skills. Becoming a parent takes more than birthing the child. I wish every parent-to-be had the time and money to take classes to learn this skills. But not all parents have this ability. Why? some are too young and some others are so busy having to work to try to support their families, which makes this almost impossible.

        Social issues are always rising their ugly heads from lack of funding. Weather the lack of funds is from poor voting habits or too much politicking to where the funds goes, I’m just not sure.

    • First, schools suffer from a lack of funding, due to voter concerns that the revenues will never reach the classroom, teachers, or students; but rather, the money will go to expand or financially reward the administrative structure. The average voter is more than willing to send more dollars to the schools, provided there are clear and definitive guidelines as to who will get this money and how the money will be spent.
      Secondly, the real issue facing most teachers is really best defined as a “Crisis in Parenting”. Many parents are simply no longer disciplining their children, as well as no longer teaching values that allow them to be adding to, rather than, subtracting from society. Research as recent as 2005 shows that teachers spend 50% of classroom time teaching, and the other 50% dealing with behavior issues that disrupt the learning environment. However, when a school or teacher does enforce the rules, most parents come in to berate the teacher and/or principal, rather than apologize for their child’s behavior, and then follow through with home-based correction/instruction. In our age of Cultural Relativism, where, “what I think is right is right”, why are so many perplexed by this outcome?
      Thirdly, exposure to a variety of cultures and socio-ecomonic backgrounds is also something some people call “world travel”. So this is great for students and hopefully teaches tolerance and respect for differences. However, a huge deterrent to this is children who come from homes where the expectation is “I’m owed (x, y, or z), children raised with racist attitudes (yes, they are still present), or children who suffer from abuse and mental disorders.
      Fourthly, we are over-medicating our children with drugs whose long- term effects are yet to be understood. Why? Because it’s easier to give a child q pill, than to spend the time and resources necessary to help the child.
      Fifth, like it or not, your children are soon to be primarily educated by computer programs, which much more accurately track progress, actual skill levels, and off- task time. The teacher will act as moderator/helper, while the computer does the teaching. Then, based on computer results, the child will be “tracked” into advanced academics, regular academics, or trade school, much as happens in several countries already. And, if you have a complaint, you will most likely talk to a computer, which will logically and objectively explain why your child is being reprimanded or disciplined.
      Lastly, teachers, such as the one in this article, and the ones I’ve seen at work, and who helped shape and guide my own life are rare gems and are disappearing. Why? Because they are exhausted with trying to teach your children how to behave, while simultaneously trying to teach academics; and tired of being berated and meetings where the child’s bad behavior is defended by the parent(s)/guardian. Schools aren’t broken, but they are changing due to a severe lack of proper social skills in students of all ages. 99% of all educators are “heroes”, who exhaust themselves trying to make a difference in the lives of student’s. The other 1% are just too burnt-out to continue teaching effectively, or are unable to handle the immense demands of the modern classroom. Parents, start doing your job at home, and quit expecting an institution to do it for you!

      • Knowing I’m responsible for my children’s ability to learn and ability to function in society is the only thing that has kept me sane through (so far) 13 years of public school goof balls, placeholders, desk riders, and just plain dumb people. Nine more years to go. Don’t feel bad public school employees, private schools have silly people, too.

    • Parents don’t/can’t “teach” character and community other than by example. Sometimes the example is wrong or misinterpreted. Caring “complete strangers” are needed to show that there are alternatives. I am happy to know there are a few still around.

    • Thank you, from a high school teacher.

  100. This was truly amazing and inspiring to read. I’m a teacher and I love this idea, I don’t know if it’s possible but I would really love more details of her classroom and seating chart I wanna try this. A ny way I can get more details?

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