Teachers Make a Difference

By on September 30, 2014

This week I would like to celebrate teachers for all the amazing work they do for students and families across the country. To honor teachers, I would like to share a quick story about my former geometry teacher who taught me to believe in myself.

I wasn’t a great math brain in high school. I liked math, but it didn’t come easy to me. Although I enjoyed working through the process to find the answer, I didn’t always come up with the right one. I remember peeking in the back of the book (as though the speed in which I looked had something to do with what I would find) and slumping in my chair when I discovered that the answer was nothing like what I had written down in my spiral notebook.

I did okay my freshman year in high school. I earned a B+ average in algebra. I thought I was going to be fine until my sophomore year when I was introduced to proofs in geometry. It can be argued that it was my age that led me to fail my first semester of geometry, but I think it was my confidence. I wanted to drop the class after receiving an F on my first test. I passed a few tests and pop quizzes, but overall, my grade in the class remained below a 55%.

I didn’t think I was good enough to pass a second semester of geometry, so I went to my teacher and asked him for advice. Instead of agreeing with my plan, he surprised me with a challenge. He told me that I had all the tools I needed to pass his class. He reminded me that I pay attention during his lectures, that I take good notes, and that I complete all my homework assignments. He explained that my low grade had more to do with my commitment to the class and my overall confidence than my actual ability. He assured me that I had the intelligence to pass his class. And not just pass, he believed that I could earn an A my second semester. He believed in me more than I did. He had challenged me to be my best self. I was excited and weary at the same time. I went into the meeting thinking I was going to drop his class. Now, I was making a commitment to earn an A second semester.

I’m sure you can predict what happened next. I did earn an A that second semester. I don’t think I dropped below a 92%. My teacher believed in me and I think that is all I needed. I wanted to prove to him and myself that I was capable of earning an A. I wanted to honor him and live up to his expectation of me. I am thankful for Mr. Caldwell for his dedication to his students. He could have told me to drop and take a remedial math class, but instead, he told me I was capable. He told me that I could accomplish the seemingly impossible if I worked hard and believed that I could. Belief. That was the secret formula to my success in his class. Belief in myself. Belief that I could face my fears and excel at something that I thought was beyond my reach. He believed in me and that made all the difference.

In the weeks to come, I would like you to share a story of a teacher who inspired you to be your best self. I am looking for stories that demonstrate teachers believing in their students. I want to use these stories to celebrate teachers. I would like to post them on eCoach and send them out to our community of inspired educators. You can send your stories to me at jonathan@literacyta.com or post a message below.

Another option is to ask your students to share a story about one of their teachers. Students can write 250 words on the following prompt:

Think of a teacher who has believed in you at a time when you were down of feeling defeated. Explain your situation and share how your teacher built your confidence and helped you overcome your fear and doubt.


You can use this post as an example. After they are written, have students share their stories in class and vote on a top few to send to LiteracyTA. We will publish their stories in eCoach so that their voices are heard across the country and around the world.


Please have students submit their stories to jonathan@literacyta.com.


Let’s work together to recognize and celebrate teachers for who they are and what they do for kids, everyday!

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