Since the popular trend is to bash teachers for their selfishness and ineptitude, I choose today to share a story with you that showcases teachers for their generosity and decency.
Last week, I had a bit of an epiphany in my classroom. I noticed one of my students coming to school wearing the same clothes day after day, often too tight and too dirty. (This is an issue of poverty, not laziness). So I called upon two colleagues to ask if they had any clothes they would be willing to donate so this student could switch it up a little, feel a bit better about himself, and have the joy of wearing “new” clothes (which is a treat he seldom experiences).
Just a couple of days later, these two colleagues each came to my classroom with a big bag of clothes. I was so thrilled. They clearly had no second thoughts after I asked them the first time, and were all too happy to do their small part to help.
My final conference this week turned out to be with the father of the student for whom I requested the clothes. He has had a very difficult childhood. He was in my class last year and ran hot and cold all year. This year, though, he is a different person. He is motivated, friendly, uplifting, and all around amazing.
I had a nice chat with his father, basically singing the child’s praises, agreeing that he has gained so much confidence and belief in himself. As we prepared to wrap up, I told the dad that some teachers gave me clothes to give to any students who needed them. I asked, “Would you like to have some? I have shirts and pants. I thought maybe your son could use them.”
It seemed that several tons were lifted from Dad’s shoulders. Previously slouched, he straightened up, smiled, and humbly thanked me. I was so glad he was not offended. I told him I just want his son to be happy. He was. He loved looking through the clothes and arrived at school yesterday wearing one of his new shirts. He told me he would wear another one the next day.
I told this story to the generous colleagues who made this possible. They both wore smiles across their faces as they listened. They were so genuinely elated that their small gesture had such a great impact, especially on this youngster. I told them both, “You are changing the world.” They really are.