Tiny Teaching Stories: ‘His Test Was Positive for COVID-19’

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—Getty + Laura Baker/Education Week

The Powerful Moments of Your Lives, Distilled

We invite teachers to share their triumphs and frustrations, the hilarious or absurd moments of their lives, in no more than 100 words.

For more Tiny Teaching Stories, click here.

To submit your own story, click here.


Unbelievable times! My school closed, and we were preparing for virtual learning. That weekend, my husband got sick. His test was positive for COVID-19. My superpowers turned on! Taking his temperature every two hours, sanitizing, and making him healthy meals were my first concerns.

After staying awake for nearly 48 hours, I had a Zoom meeting with my 96 6th grade science students. Boy, did I look rough!

None of my students knew that my husband was sick. But one exclaimed, “Mrs. G., you need to have your camera checked on your computer as soon as possible.” Kids!

Beth Garver
6th grade science
Mooresville, N.C.


“Good morning! I’m happy to see you!” I hear grumbled replies and view half-lidded eyes. I know, mornings are rough. Regardless, I smile and say, “Have a great day!” because a good day is not enough.

At year’s end, I ask what I should change about my class. The reply that floored me: “I don’t care what you change but keep saying ‘good morning.’ Nobody else ever said it to me. It was always a nice start.”

The simplest things we do as teachers can make a profound difference in someone’s day. I hold that in my mind, always.

Sandra Swanson
High school chemistry and environmental science
Storrs, Conn.


He’d been held back twice already. We were all hoping this year would be different and, for a while, it was.

Then, for months, he fell back into the same habits. Here we go again.

When schools closed, he stopped responding for weeks. I was determined to have him finish. I kept texting to just check in on him. He started responding and engaging in the work! I then received this text from mom:

“I’m not sure what happened, but he woke up excited for school again. Thank you so much for all you’re doing.”

This is why I teach.

Ramya Subramanian
5th grade
San Jose, Calif.


Nearly 50 years ago, about 3 a.m. the phone wakes me and my wife from sleep. Two young ladies, former students from sophomore English, have called. I hear sobs, frustration, fear, panic—one is pregnant—asking advice. I know her home life is a mess. Saying, “Talk to your parents,” who likely were not even there, was not an answer.

I had no advice, no wisdom for that anguished call. I mentioned one of the school counselors, but I knew the limitations they faced. This student needed someone to be there—I failed her. My next day’s grammar lesson seemed less than hollow.

Andy Anderson
High school English, retired
Overland Park, Kan.


I had just introduced my students to an algebraic concept. I asked for a volunteer to come to the board to solve an equation.

One student rudely commented, “Let autism try.”

Jacob, the quiet student who always completed his work quickly, replied, “It’s algebra—not autism.” With that, he put the sophisticated color-coded puzzle on his desk for all to see, walked to the board, solved the problem, and returned to his seat.

The smart aleck mouthed, “I’m sorry” to Jacob, as everyone else in the room smiled at Jacob—the math genius!

Sheila Freeman
Secondary literacy coach
Little Rock, Ark.


About This Project

Teachers’ lives are packed with powerful moments: moments of triumph, frustration, absurdity, joy, revelation, and hilarity. We want to hear about them.

Submit your Tiny Teaching Story, in no more than 100 words, here.

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