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In my second year of teaching, I had a group of grade 5/6 kids at a small rural school in Nova Scotia. I was in a term position from September until Christmas and had found out only days before the school year began. There is nothing quite like the anticipation and nerves of the upcoming school year, and the horror stories of “kids these days” to scare a new teacher. I settled in easily with a fantastic group of kids. We spent a lot of time getting to know one another and I followed their lead.  

In November we read a book called “Maniac Magee” by Jerry Spinelli, where a boy runs away and lives on his own. It is all about the relationships and the friendships he builds along the way. At one point an older man, who he cares for deeply, passes away. This led my class and I to talk about losing people we love. I shared with them that I had just lost my father in June and a young girl in my class opened up about losing her father when he was at sea. During this conversation I told my students about how my dad would always get me a stuffed animal at Christmastime and that it would be hard this year without him. We finished the book and continued with our time together, deepening that connection every day.  

On our last morning together, I went and grabbed a coffee to help me get through the day. I walked into the classroom to see all my students huddled in the corner. I piped in with a “What’s going on, guys?” As they turned around, one of them spoke. “We know your dad can’t get you a teddy bear for Christmas this year, but we can.” I burst into tears, and they ran to give me a huge group hug. “Kids these days” are truly amazing. 

– Christy MacNeil, Teacher 

For more real-life educator stories (and great strategies for the classroom), don’t miss our new online course, Teachers These Days, a fantastic, 2-hour session with Dr. Jody and Laurie MacIntosh! 

And if you’re someone who loves a kid, teaches a kid, or wants to better understand a kid—check out our website for Teachers These Days, the book! 

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