aha moment, kids, memories, Nancy, special, students

Each Day is Special – Nancy’s Aha Moment


This week’s aha moment is shared by Nancy Ehrlich @NancyTeaches, a passionate teachers who’s blog is a must read. Nancy and her writing about reading and teaching has inspired me on more than one occasion, so do follow her on Twitter and add her blog to your feed. She says about herself, “I have been a teacher all of my life.  I can’t remember when I wasn’t a teacher.  I started my own school in my backyard when I was in fourth grade.  I showed up at the neighbors’ houses for parent-teacher conferences!  Currently I am a reading specialist and former head of school who returned to the classroom. My class and I looped and stayed together for fourth grade.  This is my 29th year in the field of education.”


When asked to describe my “aha” moment in teaching, I was flooded with a plethora of images.  Imagine a montage of every day in your teaching life. My memories are a swirling mist of faces smiling at me as I remember the different children, classrooms and settings that filled the years.  Each day as a teacher was special.  Every child that crept into my heart defines my career.  I could never choose just one!

Of course, there have been bumps along the way.  There were days that I wanted to pull my hair out and run screaming from the classroom.  However, when I look back, a child was never the catalyst.  They were my soft-spot to land even on the worst of days.  Once engaged with a student, the rest of the world faded away.  They were all that mattered.

I remember Josh who came to me as a third grader and couldn’t read.  His parents and I put our heads together and came up with a plan.  We worked as a team and built his skills as well as his confidence.  By the way, he is doing well in college now.  I remember Taylor who was the perfect little angel in the classroom, but I knew she wasn’t learning.  Through testing, we discovered she had severe ADD and with the right plan, began to flourish.  I was so grateful I trusted my instinct.

I remember on September 11th the world changed for everyone, but for one of my students, it was intimately personal.  When this student’s parents called me to let me know what was happening and people were scrambling to get to school and chaos was everywhere, this child and I went for a long walk.  (I was a head of school at this point and could do this.) Throughout the next month as she grieved for her lost family member, she and I talked and read books together.  I hope I was a place for her to heal.  I will never forget her showing me the dust from the collapsed towers.

Then there was Izzy!  She and I bonded the moment she put her hand in mine as I guided her to the classroom.  She came to me significantly below grade level and was raw from the experiences she had in a former school.  Together we taught each other so much.  She is on grade level now and I learned to be a better teacher through working with her.

I walk into a classroom each day grateful.  George E. Fraiser said, “No one should teach who is not a bit awed by the importance of the profession.”  I’m thankful that each day gives me “aha” moments of joy.  I search every day for a way to connect with students, so that when they leave me, they will remember that learning is always filled with “aha” moments.

3 thoughts on “Each Day is Special – Nancy’s Aha Moment”

  1. What a beautiful, inspiring post! I think teaching is both the most challenging and the best job there is. Though curriculum binders sit on our desks, demanding accountability, once we close the door to our classrooms, what really matters is our connection to each child. They, and they alone, are the ones we must be accountable to. It is their lives, and not just their academic lives, that we impact every day, just as they in turn impact ours. A child's touch is like that of a butterfly – so gentle you can hardly feel it but if you look closely, you will be awed by the depth of their their colors and their beauty and be changed, forever. So when we tread too closely to practices that tend to dehumanize learning, or get frustrated to the point where we are ready to give up teaching, we must remember to listen to the butterflies. They are whispering, "The children are the prize".

  2. Thank you Nancy for this beautiful post. I am teary-eyed as I read about each child and his/her story. I know that sometimes we get overwhelmed or burdened by aspects of our jobs, but you have pointed out the amazing power we have with kids.You inspire me. Thank you!

  3. Having been at the receiving end of this remarkable woman's teaching I can tell you that she has an amazing ability to connect with and inspire children at all levels. She has turned around those that were behind and taken those ahead and provided them with challenge and confidence as well. Good teachers don't just teach from a book. They teach from their hearts and souls. They walk into the classroom each day and put aside their own lives, welcome in the traumas and dramas of their students. They enrich the lives of all they touch with knowledge, guidance and true caring. At the end of the day they send kids home a little smarter, a little healed and a lot more ready for the challenges of tomorrow. Nancy is all of this and more! I feel very lucky because she has touched the lives of not just my daughter and the other students she has had but because she has touched my life and taught me what to expect from a good teacher and how to be a good person as well!

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