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Little acts of heroism from teachers

(146 Posts)
StabInTheDark Tue 20-Aug-13 23:10:12

I just read an article about the series Educating Yorkshire and it talked about how the program would show the nation the little acts of heroism teachers perform on a daily basis.

When exH and I separated, DD (15 at the time) found out in a pretty rubbish way and a few days later one of her close friends passed away. She was understandably pretty distraught and lost it a bit at school and had a panic attack. Lovely teacher cradled her on the floor of the toilets until she calmed down, took her to her office and gave her hot chocolate and talked to her for a good hour until I could get there. Still grateful today.

Another teacher stuck her neck out for her when she wanted to change GCSE options and the head didn't approve. She knew her pupil's happiness was more important than the paperwork etc and it meant a lot to DD.

So, what is the nicest thing you've ever witnessed from a teacher? And teachers, what little acts of heroism are you proudest of? smile

NamelessMcNally Thu 22-Aug-13 13:27:41

Wonderful thread. I've been moved to tears.

My fabulously individual, language loving, imaginative and never easy DD starts P1 this day next week. Sometimes, when she has been as challenging as only a four year old knows how, I need someone to remind me how fabulous she is. I know her teacher is dedicated, passionate, kind, firm, will bring things out of her I didn't even know where there.

I know the school she will go to is supportive, demands the best from each child whatever that may be. It's not fancy but it's fab.

I feel lucky and thankful that she is embarking on this amazing journey with such admirable guides.

MiaowTheCat Thu 22-Aug-13 14:20:02

The last headteacher I worked for (now sadly retired and it's teaching's loss)... fantastic woman.

I owe her probably my life for seeing just how ill with stress I was becoming, and administering one very well aimed kick up the arse to get home and if she saw me on school grounds before I was well she'd flipping well kill me!

Ignoring that one - a kid at the school suffered a very very big accident leading to massive physical disabilities, was all over the news about it as it attracted a lot of media interest and she was interviewed and the question was asked about would the school be able to continue accommodating the child when recovered and back at school... it was the look of total confusion on her face at the question and the reply of "why on earth would we NOT... he's one of our kids!" that just got me completely to lump in throat territory.

She'd also end up kicked black and blue by kids with real behavioural difficulties, whom lots of schools would have given up on long before (and indeed we got more and more of the hard to place kids sent to us as "you're so good with them") - and wouldn't give up on them, OR fob it all off to deal with onto her staff and lock herself away in the office to hide like too many school heads do.

Fab woman - one of the reasons I ended up as ill as I did was desperately trying not to let down the faith she'd put in me as a teacher to be honest (she'd basically hunted me down after getting to know me as a supply, and being horrified when I said I was quitting teaching, and bugged me back into the profession and then onto her staff)

homework Thu 22-Aug-13 14:34:04

Would like to add to this thread about my sons learning mentor , she constantly has his back in school both with other teachers , ensuring he has good support , taken on his case with head teacher getting him more support than worded in his statement . Especially for starting his gcse this coming year.
Supporting him though a difficult year with many episodes of bullying from kids in his school , listen to him and given him the occasional kick up the bum too, when he needs it.
Most importantly helping him though a lost of confidence when he was assaulted by child from another school , on train on his way home .
It's great to know that there are some fantastic teachers and tas out there , that will put the child first , so pleased that your continuing as his mentor for this coming year.
So mrs k your one in a million .

EddieVeddersfoxymop Thu 22-Aug-13 15:04:05

Nothing as heroic as some of these tales...but one which touched my heart. There's a little girl in DD's class who's parents never remember dress down days, charity days, fundraisers etc. I was in the class helping (parent helper) when it was red nose day. The school were selling cakes for 20p to raise money. All the kiddies were eagerly queuing (P1 in scotland, so just little 4/5 year olds) with their money except this little girl. The teacher slipped off to get her bag, and gave the poor thing a 20p so she could have a cake.

As I say, nothing like some of the above stories, but it touched my heart to see her care so much about her class. And of course so see the little girl munching a cake with her pals. Priceless.

happypotamus Thu 22-Aug-13 15:52:17

My yr 10 and 11 form teacher took time to notice what an unhappy person I was, and, without prying, let me know she was there to listen if I ever wanted to talk. Knowing that she cared helped even though I didn't trust her (or anyone else at all) enough to open up. Eventually, the afternoon before a week off school, my friend broke my confidence and told the teacher I was self-harming. I am sure the school's policy required her to tell the headmistress and for my parents to be informed, but she took the decision to get me to the school nurse instead. I know, from things friends said at the time and afterwards, that I wasn't the only girl she helped through those years.
Also, not a teacher, but my school nurse. It was a private school, so she was based in school. She had the patience to put up with me just sitting crying in her room for a lesson each week unable to tell her what was wrong until I eventually started talking. Then she listened and guided me through each problem. When she got me to go to my GP and I was referred to CAMHS, she drove me across town to my appointment so I would have time to get there and back in my lunch time. I am sure that was a) beyond her role and b) probably not strictly allowed.
I don't think I would have got through the last years of secondary school without them. Ever since I left, I have wanted to contact them (and a couple of other adults who really helped me drown under my depression) to say thank you but don't know how.

storynanny Thu 22-Aug-13 16:01:41

I've got lovely memories from my 35 plus years of primary teaching and they are all non academic ones! When I see my old pupils they always remind me about how I taught them to knit, sew and learn lots of songs which they can still remember the words to. Not sure how we managed to find the time to do those lovely things, maybe we were supposed to be doing numeracy or literacy at the time.
I'm very grateful to the secondary teachers who encouraged my sons to indulge their passions of music and sport.

Wonderstuff Thu 22-Aug-13 20:38:10

My dd teacher has been fantastic. Dd is gorgeous, but headstrong and determined, she tries my patience often. In January she had plastic surgery which resulted in both feet in casts for 6 weeks. She was on lots of pain killers, very uncomfortable and tired. Her teacher treated her with such sensitivity and compassion, through that half term and throughout the year. DD has loved school this year, it could have been really stressful.

I remember my mum taking a boy she taught under her wing, for lots of reasons the poor kid didn't have a good relationship with his mum. My mum used to take him out on the weekend sometimes, always tried to support him in school. Wanted him to help him.

perfectstorm Thu 22-Aug-13 21:54:42

This woman reduced me to tears. She passed away shortly after, but her words have stuck with me.

"Kids don't learn from people they don't like... every child needs a champion."

What an incredible teacher.

janpa Thu 22-Aug-13 22:59:08

These are lovely stories, but please, please tell the teachers when they have done such wonderful things. About ten years ago I was on a course held at the teacher training college I had attended when a young woman came up to me & said I had been her student teacher (on my final practice) & how she had always hated school until I came along & how what I had done had inspired her to become a teacher so she could turn around the lives of other children in the way I had turned around her life. I still don't know what I did specifically, but it doesn't really matter. Whenever I have a complaining parent I remember what a good job I do and what matters. Please pass on your messages, where possible, to stop fantastic, but disillusioned, teachers from leaving the profession. Thank you.

Mikachu Thu 22-Aug-13 23:25:51

perfectstorm - That's the Rita Pierson thing isn't it? Our headteacher played that to us on an inset day recently. Every word is so true. That's why I became a teacher - to make a difference in kids' lives.

And janpa is right. Please please tell teachers if you think they're amazing. We rarely hear these positive things because parents generally only come to see us if there's a problem. You could make a real difference to their day/week/career with your kind words.

DaleyBump Fri 23-Aug-13 00:09:48

This thread makes me incredibly happy and sad all in one. I was bullied terribly in school. So much so that I am still suffering from severe depression. I was suicidal at the time. Not one teacher ever tried to help me, and when one teacher saw some scars from my self-harming she then told lots of other teachers and classroom assistants who would talk about it behind my back. It wasn't like she told them to help me, it was just teachers gossiping. I just wish I had run into a teacher like you all describe.

Thumbwitch Fri 23-Aug-13 07:12:19

Another vote for Classics for this thread - it's wonderful and so touching.

thanks to all the fab teachers and assistants out there.

I don't have any inspirational teacher stories, but this is a great story of a brave heroic receptionist at an American school

phantomnamechanger Fri 23-Aug-13 10:48:07

sniff! what a lovely thread.

so many teachers make a huge difference and go far beyond the call of duty.

halfpint76 Fri 23-Aug-13 12:11:55

These are so heart-warming! Think teachers have come in for a lot of (unjust) criticism recently. Good to hear all these little acts which will (or have) made a huge difference to someone and their family.

chicaguapa Fri 23-Aug-13 13:42:33

I must be tired because this thread has made me well up.

I bloody hate DH's job tbh, but I'm very proud of him that there is a troubled teenage boy out there who was offered refuge in DH's classroom. He was in DH's tutor group and was always in trouble for losing his temper in class and storming out of the school. DH told him that if he felt like that, he could come to his classroom and calm down. Sometimes he used to just sit at the back for the whole day, but at least he was in school.

It's very similar to a lot of stories I've read on here so I hope it made a difference to this boy's life in the same way.

SpecialCircumstances Fri 23-Aug-13 13:49:48

Feeling very emotional reading these!
My top one has to be our last head, she was the sort of woman who inspired all her staff to just go that extra mile for the kids and their families because she went the extra mile for you. In my first year a child in my class had massive holes in her shoes, there was a whole raft of interventions going on with this family but it just got to me that her little feet were so cold. So I bought a cheap pair of tesco shoes. When the head found out I she called me in and I thought I was in big trouble for stepping over the line for a professional. She handed me £20.00 out of her wallet and told me to get her a pair of wellies too.

She stood up to bullying parents, the LEA and anyone who threatened the wellbeing of her staff and children. And she was an absolute inspiration. She remembered everything about the staff and families and would always ask after your family/how things were going at home/ gave lovely personal presents for Christmas. I really miss her and I hope I can be half the teacher she was.

serin Fri 23-Aug-13 19:45:44

The teachers on whistling sands beach back in May, who spotted DD revising from a GCSE chemistry book and came over to chat and encourage her then ended up spending the best part of the afternoon tutoring her. Thanks for that, she got an A.

The year one teacher that DS fled to during the nativity performance, he had stage fright and climbed onto her knee. The way he snuggled up to her was exactly how he snuggled up to me and I realised he had a second Mum in her! Thank you.

GetKnitted Fri 23-Aug-13 21:21:36

so glad I came across this thread.

CharlotteParks Fri 23-Aug-13 23:16:19

My parents are teachers and we regularly had various waifs and strays brought home for the night or for the weekend or sometimes even longer. Often because no one had turned up for them at the end of the day and it turned out the mum had be arrested again or whatever.

Once they had a dressing down from social services about it, but it was gone 6pm, no foster care had been arranged and the child was hungry and tired. Social services had a strip torn off them and the child came home with us for a dinner that you have never seen eaten so fast, stopping off at Tesco to buy them a coat, shoes that fit and a new school uniform because theirs was in tatters. They were never bothered by SS again! In fact they went on to be foster carers and have had many children stay with them now, anything from a few months to many years.

storynanny Sat 24-Aug-13 09:07:13

Well maybe this thread has helped us see the good points about lots of teachers instead of just hearing the usual moans and groans about them. It's very hard to defend yourself as a teacher when faced with criticism from parents as they obviously have justification at that particular time re their children. However the vast majority of teachers I've come across in my career so far would be able to participate in this thread!
I'm not sure parents know how much of their own time and money lots of teachers spend on their pupils. There can't be many other professions where this happens, the money side that is.

KateSMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 24-Aug-13 10:16:41


We're going to move this to classics <wails>

Thumbwitch Sat 24-Aug-13 17:18:27

HUrrah! So glad it's in Classics, well done MNHQ thanks

EvilTwins Sat 24-Aug-13 20:29:14

One of my colleagues saved a student's life- literally. The student (yr 10 boy) choked on a sweet (obv shouldn't have been eating it) during his lesson. Banging him on the back didn't work. Colleague called for first aid but realised he needed to act fast as the boy was in real difficulties and starting to go blue. He got the boy to lie on the floor, picked him up upside down and the sweet came out. No idea how he managed it - normal bloke in his 50s lifting a straping 5"10 15 yr old. Paramedics said that the teacher's actions had saved the boy's life. All a bit dramatic for a GCSE Science lesson!

PomBearWithAnOFRS Sat 24-Aug-13 23:41:14

My parents were teachers, and I remember once answering the phone to a little voice asking "Is that John X's house? the teacher?" and when I said yes, they said "oh thank you God - is he there? I need help"
I never found out what exactly that student needed from my Dad, but whatever it was, he went and did it and I have never heard anyone sound quite so relieved to have found someone again. My Dad did say that "there was a reason he and mam weren't ex-directory" in the phone book...

tresleches Sun 25-Aug-13 00:00:09

My parents separated when I was in primary one and I went to stay with my grandparents 600 miles away during the school term. My teacher's daughter was an art student and I was presented with work books and jotters that had been personalised and covered in very good felt-tip Snoopy illustrations. My memory has pretty comprehensively blocked out whatever happened around that time, except the warm glow of looking at my school books

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