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The Kids Are Alright: Teachers Share Heartwarming Stories About Students

Phillip Hamilton

People like to talk a lot of smack about the younger generations today. They call them naïve, unaccepting, and intolerant, to name just a few things. But these accusations seem to be far from the truth. If you don’t buy it, take it from the mouths of the teachers themselves. The stories below come from teachers who came together on Reddit to share the most positive student stories that give them hope for the future. If reading these doesn’t bring a smile to your face, nothing will. Here are 50 student trends that inspire hope.


1. Waffle Time

They will go out of the way for each other in ways that I never saw growing up. For example, I had a student crying at lunch today because her home lunch was moldy. As she was telling me this, four others (who I thought were from different cliques) started offering up whole waffles (one of just two served with hot lunch), all of their sausage links, and even half of a seemingly-gourmet, homemade sandwich.

Also, the majority of the kids I work with will stick up for their classmates who are being bullied, regardless of the audience. Elementary and middle school-aged young people seem to be thought of self-absorbed and social media-obsessed. However, every single day I am genuinely astounded by their insight and resilience, despite their upbringing in a political and social climate which is considerably less stable than the generations preceding them.

Mrs765

2. LGBT Friendly

The vast majority of my kiddos are way more accepting of things like LGBTQ issues, other cultures and religions, etc. They’re not perfect and we still have teasing, but it’s more inner-friend group stuff than it is anything else. There are a few “out” kids at my school and no one cares (in a good way). Last year a trans kid came out and everyone started calling him by his preferred name and pronoun.

Pretty cool.

booksandowls

3. Teaching With Memes

Sense of humor. I know memes and Vines have made a lot of students lose interest in school but if you can find a way to bring it into the classroom and teach with it, they love learning and can be hilarious to spend the day with.

adammwhitee

4. Let Me Be Your DD, Bro

My girlfriend is a teacher and she is amazed at how uncool drinking and driving is. Kids are like “that’s stupid you will kill someone…” They literally make fun of kids who do it. In my day EVERYONE drove drunk. Very positive change.

HardGayMan

5. No BS

I’m a high school teacher, and I love my kids. In fact, it makes me absolutely furious when anyone rags on them, and for good reason. For one: they are the most accepting generation. Ever. I am not THAT much older than them, but when I was in high school kids largely stayed closeted. Now transgender students are transitioning and almost everyone is completely fine with it, or at least mind their own if they aren’t. There will always be some jerks, but they are the minority.

I really think they will change things. They have a real chance at learning from our mistakes. But if we keep telling them they are selfish/useless/lazy, they might believe us. Then we are totally screwed.

sillylittlebird

6. The Protectors

I worried about my son, who has mild autism, for the first 10 years of his life. I kept telling him that middle school would be hard, kids would tease him, etc. and that high school would be even harder in the same respect. 15 years ago, I would have been right. Fast forward to now, and I’m constantly amazed and grateful for how well he is treated.

Even the “jock” kids and big snotty idiot kids who would make perfect tyrants are inclusive, kind, and even sometimes protective of my son. I’ve told all of them how appreciative I am, and even got a few of them Christmas presents this year. Love those kids.

Saucebiz

7. The Entertainment Generation

Getting better and better at technology. I thought I was good at smartphones when they first became a thing and I still consider myself good at handling them, but seeing some of the 2000s and younger kids and what they can do with their smartphones, blows my mind. Tiktok is actually a good example, some do these crazy transitions and have really original ideas and they’re what, 11?

obekymrad

8. Cynical but Frank

Girls ask boys out more often; boys are starting to expect girls to be franker and more straightforward with what they want more often. Other than that, just like my colleagues: Generally kinder, more generous, understanding of differences, mature. On the other hand, I find them generally sadder, maybe more cynical, and overall quite happily pessimistic toward the future, a kind of “haha we’re so screwed” vibe I feel sometimes.

rly_not_what_I_said

9. All the Cool Kids Meme

I’m not a teacher but my girlfriend’s mom is a teacher and it sparked a dialogue. With the dawn of meme culture, kids are getting competitive with comedy at an early age. When I was a kid, I had undiagnosed mental health issues so I was bullied a lot, and the only thing that kept me alive was developing my sense of humor. Sad as it is, young people have a pecking order and cliques, but a few things can transcend those boundaries and one of those is humor.

Coincidentally, I was into internet humor, meme culture, and PC games way before my peers were. Wanna hear something crazy? I was bullied for that. Specifically, and mercilessly. If you ran a meme page and had a nice gaming pc at 10 today, you would be a GOD. It’s honestly made a lot of kids that don’t fit in have at least SOMETHING in common with their peers.

All you have to do is yell “FORTNITE” or whatever meme is going around that week and boom you have a friend. I had one time where I was able to make friends like that and that was when Pokémon came out, similar concept. You might think that kind of stuff is “cringe” or annoying or stupid, but if it can prevent someone from wanting to hurt themselves at 12 like I was, I’ll allow it.

Of course, I don’t need to have it anywhere near me, but that’s a different matter.

PROFITPROPHET

10. Reversed!

I’m a student, not a teacher, but here we go: A teacher called Mr. Sheen always was fascinated by our culture and memes and stuff (he’s 56) and always involved himself in memes. He is honestly the nicest teacher in our school with a massive understanding heart. Now one day we all brought in our UNO cards and kept the reverses for insults and stuff. So, when we used it on him, he got very sad and we just looked at each other. Then BAM he pulls out his own UNO reverse and laughs at my friend.

If you ever see this Mr. Sheen, you were a real homie.

Defo_not_a_cop

11. The Importance of Independence

They are generally independent and self-reflective. When I first started teaching I thought I had simply lucked out getting students who were consistently bright, engaged and curious, but having now taught at three different universities on two different continents, it seems to be a general trend across universities.

They are also, as noted elsewhere, generally kind and empathetic, and both my male and female students are usually pretty emotionally mature.

Hobbesina

12. Wearing the Shoes of Others

I asked my wife (primary teacher) and she says empathy and adaptability are the two traits she has seen dramatically improve over her last 15 years. Kids seem to be better at putting themselves in another’s position and understanding their situation. Also, they seem to be much more flexible with changes whether in the classroom or the outside world.

swhertzberg

13. Cite Your Sources

I’m a spouse to a high school teacher, she has to say: They were born into the internet and social media, it is not something they had to learn. Also, as a result of which, they are also more self-reliant with research. And most importantly, contrary to the largest complaints, today’s kids are extremely hard-working and are less judge-y of nerds (less judgmental in general).

ABahRunt

14. No Taboos

More acceptance in recognizing differences but also common characteristics or struggles. I think it’s easier to find somewhere to belong now, even if it’s also too easy to fall into an echo-chamber. Also, they talk more about suicide and self-harm and that is super important to never keep taboo.

sassisaac

15. A’s All Around

I am a teacher at a high school in Missouri. All of the stereotypes you hear/see in rural high schools are still prevalent. However, almost every “group” works harder academically. It is no longer cool to get Fs and fail. Even country boys who will never leave the farm or go to college care about getting passing grades.

600+ students in our HS btw.

Anifus

16. Hug It Out

Not a teacher, but a former afterschool care counselor. Even though it may have just been the school’s rules/conditioning, the kids were generally so good at apologizing, owning up to their actions, and being accepting of others’ apologies (after whatever situation transpired has calmed down, of course). They always knew to kindly and carefully approach whoever they hurt, make eye contact, and word their apologies in such a way that effectively communicated their apology for the correct reasons. And those being apologized to always knew to say, “I accept your apology” as opposed to “It’s okay.”

Kids in my day couldn’t figure those kind of communication skills out until at least middle school or high school. The only time I would get a sarcastic “sorry” accompanied with an eye roll and running away would be from a kindergartener, or an older child facing other difficulties.

sarar3sistance

17. Minecraft Minds

Taught art for a spell a while back: I know that a lot of people say stuff like “oh these children and their all-consuming technology,” but a lot of kids are so excited about learning to make things using their devices. A big part of the sculpture class I taught was to make a statement using a 3D printed sculpture. Even take something like Minecraft, I know it’s a big meme, but it’s a huge sandbox to build things.

I remember being a young teen when I came out—we would get so complex with our builds. Kids are learning to create in an incredibly different way. It can be really irritating when they latch onto something and run it into the ground, but they love learning new things and creating new things in an increasingly relevant way.

rehab_baby

18. Smokes are for Jokes

Secondary School: There are a LOT less smokers than 20 years ago. A lot of kids use their Juuls, but to be honest, I’d rather have that than cigs. Video games are a lot more accepted. Not just a niche played by nerds in arcades after school. Every social group plays video games. Kids are a lot more literate than when I was in school.

Even if they speak English as a second language, the ubiquity of the internet has done wonders for basic literacy, although a lot of mistakes due to the way words sound are still common (their/there, should “of” and could “of,” etc.).

Skithy

19. A Two-Way Street

The majority of my students are in the 18-22 age range. I’m 37, for reference. Students are far kinder than they ever were when I was a student. They go out of their way to help each other, and they are much less judgemental than my cohort was. For the most part, they are really polite and respectful. I know a lot of professors deal with problems from cell phones, but I find that if I tell them to use their phones respectfully and only for class purposes, they do.

The only real problem I seem to have with this cohort is the constant headphone-wearing, but I think that’s a battle I’m just going to lose.

msanthropologist

20. The Cool Girls

I’m a little late to the party on this one, but I’m a high school teacher. I teach both Honors and Inclusion classes, so I get a great variety of kids. Today, one of my students was very harsh to an autistic student who tried to politely sit next to her and charge his laptop. She said, “You’re not sitting next to me!” and put her leg in the chair so he couldn’t sit down.

Before I could respond, five of the “tough” girls in the class immediately jumped to the autistic student’s defense, calling the girl rude and really letting her have it. They were firm and composed in their defense of the student and probably made the kid’s day. Teaching can be rough sometimes, but they made me really proud today.

I think a lot of our modern-day students are compassionate for others and incredibly intelligent. Don’t let their use of smartphones fool you!

RockGameRepeat

21. I Recommend My Girl

The high school students I work with today seem significantly more emotionally intelligent than those of my generation, especially the young men. They are aware of their own feelings and are better at separating their feelings from fact (i.e., they’re more likely to say “I’m feeling X, Y, Z negative emotion right now” than “Ugh, this teacher just hates me, what a jerk”).

They’re also better at seeing and accommodating emotions in other people. There’s more awareness of and sympathy for mental health issues. Here’s an illustration: The other day, some of the students I coach were conversing, and one young man asked how frequently they had a good cry. They all answered. And he said, “I think I’m overdue for a good cry,” and his peers started suggesting good movies to induce tears.

It was an utterly shocking scene for me! Great, but nothing I would ever have expected. Kids can be stunningly introspective and empathetic when you ask them to talk about their interpersonal issues. There’s a real effort to perspective-taking that goes beyond what I encountered at that age.

Also, the students I work with have some selection bias, to be fair, but the ones I encounter as a whole care a lot about current events. It’s like it’s actually cool to know and care what’s going on, and it’s uncool not to. This is very different from how I grew up. I think a lot of them would agree with the statement “Being smart is cool and learning new things is fun” which seems simplistic but isn’t true to everyone.

I think it’s related to the pressure to get into college. This pressure to be more well-rounded in your interests is a double-edged sword: kids get social capital from being exposed to different ideas and cultivating interests, but it’s also a difficult race to model yourself into some ideal.

rkgk13

22. Hate-Be-Gone

Not a teacher but have been getting tens of hours shadowing teachers at every level over the last two semesters for my teaching course. I really notice the lack of teasing at high school, middle school, and elementary. I feel I have a unique perspective, as since I wasn’t the teacher kids acted more natural when it was just me observing in the corner.

I in probably 50+ hours of this haven’t seen more than one instance of kids being outright mean to each other, and in that case, it was just two kids roasting each other, nothing really physical.

yoHatchet

23. YouTube: The Best TA

As an ex-college prof, contrary to belief, they seem better at helping each other out and giving their point of view on a topic or idea. When teaching before, they would try to explain to each other how I explained it to them. Now, they go look for other ways, both good and bad, on YouTube and explain different things they have found on the site.

This mentality can be bad if it doesn’t always hold true (I taught math), but they can also other ways of explaining I hadn’t thought about. It’s refreshing to see the more open sharing of ideas. This may be that they listen better to their peers than to me, but if it helps, I’m not complaining.

outerproduct

24. Trading Up

A realization that any sort of specialization is a good thing and that a four-year college degree isn’t necessary for everyone (lots of my students want to go to tech/trade school or apprenticeships). They’re learning from my debt-laden generation.

TheFBChronicles

25. Future Voter Training

My girlfriend is a teacher and she said she’s noticed a trend in kids actually making an effort to learn about what they care for, ie. political issues and such. Unfortunately, there have been multiple cases where parents have called the school because their kid has come home not completely agreeing with their parents.

This one kid’s parents threatened to un-enroll their student because they said they had a few conservative ideas and that the school/my girlfriend was brainwashing him. My girlfriend is progressive and works really hard to make sure she shows no bias, she felt pretty happy when that parent accused her haha.

CheeseCurdCommunism

26. X-Ray Vision

I’m a middle school social studies teacher. The students I’ve taught, whether at a school that was generally dysfunctional or at one that runs really smoothly, question authority and speak out against perceived injustices in a way that kids in my generation (I’m in my early 30s) did not. They are absolutely aware of the spread of misinformation and attempts to control people’s thinking through propaganda, and they are massively better prepared to see through it than any generation before them.

This is the only generalization I can really make, to be honest. I’ve been at schools with negative cultures where the kindness that I’m reading other people talk about in their responses was nonexistent. I’m at a school now that is so relentlessly positive and loving that if I hadn’t taught at other schools I might think it was a generational thing.

For a lot of things, it really is dependent on the neighborhood and school culture.

heyheymse

27. Culturally Cool

The general and basic acceptance of other cultures. My city has the highest immigration percentage per capita right now, thanks to our previous mayor declaring us a “sanctuary city.” I don’t feel politically charged one way or another on the topic, but I do wish there was more of a solid matriculation plan for families.

Printing permission slips in 27 different languages (this is not an exaggeration) is not exactly meeting the needs of each family when it comes to them understanding what is expected of them as a parent and what is going on in their child’s life. That’s a whole other whale of a topic though…the point is, the students don’t seem to notice the explosion of culturally different children. Like, at all.

More than half of my females wear a hijab over her hair for various religious reasons. No one bats an eye. A fifth of the class is fasting for Ramadan? Oh, that’s cool, man. Little Fadilla speaks Swahili? Woah. What does it sound like? Cool! Let me show you where the lunchroom is. We frequently talk about family food traditions and it is a ball hearing what each child’s favorite food is. I love it.

When I was in school, we had one kid from a foreign exchange program, and he was a freaking celebrity. Now, we have don’t even teach ESL (English as a Second Language) anymore. It’s ENL (English as a NEW Language). That’s because most of our students who speak a language other than English speak at minimum three or four languages and several I can think of speak six or seven.

It’s incredible! I see this as a massive step in the right direction. Instead of pockets of cultures, I simply see heterogeneous groups of kids being kids. Sharing lunches, trading Pokémon cards. It’s awesome.

orangejuicenopulp

28. Looking Fresh

As a teacher who works with young adults, I’ve noticed that they are more considerate, deeper thinkers, pragmatic in a good way (they know what they want to do with their lives and take action to reach their goals). Also, they are really beautiful kids, well-groomed, dressed with good taste.

Etrangere09

29. Student Care Plan

I’m late to the game, but I’ve been a high school teacher for 14 years and I’ve witnessed a number of changes that give me so much hope for the future. I truly believe the kids will lead the way. We just have to give them our support. I’ve been preaching to adults lately that teenagers are so much more empathetic than we give them credit for. I have a severe facial pain disorder and have had numerous procedures and brain surgery, and my kids take better care of me than my coworkers. They take care of each other, too.

While they aren’t afraid to fail, failure isn’t a badge of honor. It’s cool to be a “smart kid.” This isn’t something I saw first starting 14 years ago. My college-level kids challenge each other to be better, think deeper, and ask more important questions. They are kind. They take care of the odd kids, the quirky ones. They appreciate diversity and differences of opinion. They call out BS.

Sure, there are jerks who try to make the lives of other kids the worst, but the majority outweighs the bitter few every time. I love my job, and these kids make my life whole.

justanobodygirl

30. Spread the Love

My son is six and on the autism spectrum. He’s somewhat verbal but still socially delayed and doesn’t easily interact with peers. He’s not aggressive, but he’s perfectly content to play on his own. He started kindergarten this year and while he’s receiving special education, they try to have him in the class with the neurotypical children for a portion of every day (what they describe as integrative special education).

What blows my mind is how these children interact with him. I drop him off occasionally and when I do, the other kids all will say hi and ask him how he’s doing, even when they know he probably won’t respond to them. They invite him to play in the classroom and on the playground, and they are just genuinely nice kids.

When I was a kid, special education students were completely segregated from the mainstream students and we weren’t taught about what made them different or how to interact with them. It really makes me happy and gives me hope, not just for my son but for the next generation as a whole. Also, teachers, you guys rock.

DingDingDao

31. Books Have Feelings, Too

A few more weeks till the end of the year and no one has destroyed their books yet.

backrubbing

32. Let’s Collab

High school teacher here. Open communication and collaboration skills. Nearly all of them have a phone or are able to schedule when to work together. My Computer Science students have a Discord they run together to work as a development team. They rely on each other for support for hard questions, the really good ones not plagiarizing. Generally, the students I see are masters of collaboration and group work—which are essential skills in nearly every profession.

Or course you see the usual negatives in a social group, the stereotypes that have always been. There are those who want to sleep, mess around on their phone, not do the work and then question why they have a 41% in your class. Then when you explain they say it comes as a “big surprise” to them. Then they sit down and curse at you under their breath (happened to me today).

These kids are the minority. We teachers have a bad habit of focusing on them rather than the habits of good students. Thank you for this post. It’s nice to see a chance of pace.

Expolaris

33. No Biases Allowed

I teach introductory philosophy and ethics courses for college students. I have two positive trends in mind, though the first trend is a positive spin on a, I think, a negative trend. Students are usually very open to discuss different beliefs regarding hot-button ethical issues such as abortion, euthanasia, animal rights, and other topics.

They are often very understanding of others’ views and try to see where others are coming from. But honestly, this is an overly-kind trend of intense relativism that affirms contradictions, makes a hard distinction between belief and fact, and asserts that all opinions are equal regardless of how well or poorly they are justified. But at least it’s not erring on the dogmatic side of the spectrum.

Anyway, the second positive trait I’ve seen is how informed students are on issues of pressing social concern. So, it’s refreshing to know that many of today’s youth are going out into the world with knowledge that will help them help others.

AlyoshaKaramazov1

34. All Hail the Prom King

In my high school (around 2000), I witnessed something utterly horrifying that broke my heart into pieces. The inconsiderate students voted the ONE kid who was brave enough to come out as gay as prom king, just to be dicks. He was the school joke and it absolutely devastated him. Fast forward to about 2012, I was chaperoning the prom dance at the high school my sister worked at in the same city. And they elected an openly trans student as prom king and everybody loved him and supported him.

Basically, the same thing, but one was to make someone feel utterly terrible, and one was because everyone loved and supported the kid. It blew my mind that so much had changed in 12 years!

Baconstrip01

35. I See No Difference

I teach five to six-year-olds currently. A few months ago, I was teaching a PSHE lesson about different types of families, one type being children who have two mums or two dads. The children didn’t even bat an eyelid, they are just so accepting.

VeryConfusedPerson26

36. Love is Love

Not currently teaching but I have taught. My high schoolers were SO much more comfortable with their own/others’ preferences. They still had all of the awkwardness of adolescence and figuring themselves out but lots of the queer kids were out and comfortable and their classmates didn’t particularly care either way.

Also, the activism around climate change and general political awareness I’ve observed is impressive.

Gay_Kira_Nerys

37. That’s Fake News, Sir

In the UK secondary school pupils seem very aware politically. They seem to be particularly resilient to “fake news,” which is particularly encouraging; though I guess they’re probably the first generation to have lessons specifically looking at the validity, bias, and accuracy of online sources.

DunBite

38. At Least They’re Honest

9-12 teacher here. Everyone’s in a tizzy because this generation is obsessed with their own fatalistic/”life sucks” style of humor. I prefer to see a group of kids who are finally able to communicate their feelings and emotions, regardless of how uncomfortable that makes you, Karen.

deadpanawesome

39. Working Hard to Work Hard

I found that kids these days are more aware of the needs of the job market and what they need to do to stand out. They are aware of internships and networks and hobbies that will help them get ahead more than my generation (millennial). They volunteer more as a result and pursue their talents/interests.

I felt that when I went to school we were told that as long as we went to uni we would graduate to a successful job and post-financial crisis found that that was no longer the case. My students now know that a degree is not enough and have a clearer idea of what they want.

missymuses

40. Just Chatting

My students range in age from 16-35, averaging in the early 20s. The youngest are way kinder and more social. An example: I was talking to a student aged 17 before the class started and we somehow talked about, “It’s 2018! Why don’t we already have…” I shared that my biggest wish for streaming is a search engine that will tell me where I can stream any given show or film. To which my student countered that a feature he really missed was being able to watch a movie with someone else in different places. It should have a (voice) chat function and synchronous playback, so you could fast-forward or pause together.

We had this when I was a teen, it was called TV and a phone, but nobody did it.

Jumbobog

41. The Good Kind of Peer Pressure

I teach middle school art. The students are definitely more accepting and will often shut down someone being rude before I even get the chance to do so. There is also more concern about getting work done and getting a good grade. Students will also often tell other students who are fooling around to “sit down and do the project like everyone else.”

Peer pressure is very effective in curbing behaviors. I’ve seen a student who I struggle to get to sit and work actually do so after getting chewed out by a peer. I’ve also seen students break up fights quickly rather than stand around and whoop. There is more homogenization, fewer cliques. Students have things that they like and will sit with other students who like the same things, but you’d be surprised by who’s talking about it.

Someone who in the past might have been a prep and one who might have been an emo will sit there and go off about K-Pop and who they like best from BTS. All of this is mostly a comparison between now and my experiences in school (graduated high school in 2007).

ravibun

42. Already Climbing the Ladder

The whole start-up craze is definitely a great development. Kids have people who founded successful multi-million-dollar startups in their 20s and they are being inspired to dream big and work hard for the dream. The previous generations were more concerned about stability, climbing the corporate ladder, but I know way too many university-aged people venturing with their own projects.

Sure, changing the world can all be a pipe dream, a rose-tinted and optimistic outlook of youth—especially considering the average age of a successful founder is way into the late 30s. Also, something like nine out of 10 startups fail. But overall, I think the work ethic, the lessons, the experiences, the connections gained along the entrepreneurial journey are all well worth it for the young.

minhhale

43. Woke AF

A lot of my high achieving students are happy to question and reject ideas, not just accepting them because the older generation used to think/act that way. To preface this, I live in Spain, which lags seriously behind in terms of backward attitudes and views about gender roles. For example, we have been reading Romeo and Juliet and they were appalled to see the inappropriate threats and aggression towards women. They were outraged by the inequality and the way a father would treat their daughter.

To give a more recent example, we also do A View From the Bridge. One of the characters, Rodolfo, behaves in a what could be considered an effeminate way (likes to sing, cook, wear fancy clothes). To them, there was nothing inherently wrong with any of that behavior and I had to explain to them why another character disliked Rodolfo so much because of it.

I hope I’m helping make these old attitudes go away.

MattAmpersand

44. Blurred Lines

I’m a dorm parent at a university (not a teacher, sorry, but I see students outside the classroom at all hours of the day, so I see how they live and act in private life). They have vastly different conceptions of traditional gender roles, to the point that already at 30, I feel out of touch. There are still fraternities and sororities that play the age-old hookup games, but outside of that microcosm, masculinity, femininity, and identity lines are blurring and far less important than when I was in high school and college.

Homosexuality has nearly zero taboo associated with it anymore, transgender identity is expressed openly and largely accepted without question, male friendships (as far as I can tell) more closely resemble traditional female friendships in terms of openness and physical expression. It threw me off for the first few years holding the job, but a lot has changed in just 10 years, and the #metoo movement is making things change even faster.

Gender and gender equality are no longer just movements but baked into the landscape of today’s 18 to 22-year-olds, and they are very disappointed in us. In comparison, I came up in a very anti-gay, transphobic, and womanizing culture, and I went to relatively progressive schools.

COPCO2

45. Cheering for Equality

Acceptance of one another and kindness. Two great recent examples from my time in schools: In a 95% white high school, there’s a rather effeminate black young man on the cheer squad, which was otherwise all girls had and been for recent memory. During the pep rally, all the cheerleaders were doing their tumbling passes. His turn comes up and the roar in the gym was louder than anything I’d heard before. He made his pass—which honestly put all the others to shame! —and IT GOT LOUDER! It was a goosebumps-inspiring moment.

Last day of school before Christmas vacation and I’m going classroom to classroom to hit up teachers for their pocket change and loose bills so we can take care of the few remaining names on our angel tree (gifts for kids who might otherwise not get one). As I leave one classroom, a student follows me into the hall. “Here’s $5. It’s all I have. I heard you ask Mrs. Smith for angel tree money and I want to give this.” His name wasn’t on the tree, but it could have been. He had a job at the local grocery store and he likely knew what it was like to go without.

I have so many memories like those two from my 20 years in schools. I hate it when people complain about young people. I have more faith in the generations that follow mine than I have in my own and in those that preceded us.

InstantKarma71

46. Better at Every Level

I’m but a lowly sub (for now, I’ll be a “real” teacher by next year), but I’ve seen changes in all age groups: Elementary school: children are waaaaaay more open about expressing their feelings in healthy ways. I’ve had little boys cry in my classroom and not one classmate had ever made fun of him. They comfort each other instead. They usually know when they’re about to lose it and ask to have some quiet time instead of letting it get worse.

Middle school: Less peer pressure. Yes, there are still some queen/king bees, but far fewer. More and more kids are saying no to things they know they’re not supposed to do; they care more about not getting in trouble. High school: Far more students care about their grades and going to college. I work in a district where inner-city kids are bussed in, and for a long time has carried a stereotype of having the “bad hoodlum kids,” but a lot of the time they are more humble than the rich kids who live in the district.

I’ve heard many tell me they want to be the first in their family to graduate college. I’m so proud of all of my K-12 kiddos.

RaichuRose

48. We’re All People

Kids nowadays are typically more supportive of children with disabilities than the kids of yesteryear. When I was a child, children were ruthless towards anybody different, especially someone with a disability. Derogatory words were commonly used. I’m now a SPED teacher who works with younger children with mild to moderate disabilities.

I’m beyond impressed with the amount of support children with disabilities have from their peers. All of my students are readily accepted by their peers and there are very few incidents of teasing between disabled and non-disabled children. Matter of fact, the only real issues of intolerance shown towards my kids were from parents.

Yardbird753

48. A Million Helping Hands

Students are not afraid to just be nice to each other. I teach elementary art and it is so nice when a kid who is pretty unskilled in art show another kid their work, and instead of getting laughed at (like when I was in school) kids are just so sweet and will say things like “Wow, I really love that!” I hear kids telling other kids “I think your work is beautiful” or “I really like your ideas!” and I just think of when I was in art kids made fun of my work.

In general, I really don’t see kids being jerks as much as they were when I was a kid. I went to school in a really nice district too with few problems but I was bullied. Kids here have MUCH worse home lives than kids at my old school, and while they could choose to take it out on others, they don’t.

Kids help each other too. They know if a student is “special” and will try to help that student out. They’ll offer to walk them to the bathroom, or help them with their drawing, or very politely tell them to be careful with things.

Kighla

49. The Lunch Fairy

My mom is a teacher and she says that it just brings her to tears when the kids that have lunch share with the ones that don’t. It brings back good memories about an adorable little kid who did not deserve what was happening to her and we wish someone had helped her out so that we didn’t have to be her only safety net. This whole situation still makes me furious when I think about it.

There was a girl in one of her classes who I thought of like a little sister. I went to the same school, so I saw her often. We let her call Mom “Mom,” and since her father was starving her at home, we did everything we could to make sure she was eating. She had expressed wishes to stay with her mother more often than her father, to which he responded by refusing to send her lunch and telling her stepsiblings to throw out any food she got.

So, that’s how I ended up taking a third-grader to my mom’s room for lunch every day so she could eat some of what I had or whatever we could bring from home, giving doom-glares to her step-siblings and acting as a bodyguard as often as I could. The stepsiblings were terrified of me because I had once demonstrated that I gave zero cares and would happily defend people I cared about, once punching one kid who was teasing another.

I defended the underdogs of my mom’s class and treated them like they were my siblings, and I extended this kindness to anyone who needed it. After a few months, when the “punishment” wasn’t letting up and my surrogate little sis started coming to school with bruises, we reported it. The principal didn’t do anything.

We continued to report it, even called CPS ourselves, but nothing came out of it. Kid’s fine though. After a while her mom took back custody so it’s alright now, I hope.

SatansKid666

50. The Dream Comes True

Last year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day I was substituting at an elementary school in a very wealthy area and was surprised to find a very culturally mixed Kindergarten class waiting for me. Their teacher left an MLK worksheet and asked that I talk about him, so I found his “I have a dream” speech on YouTube for the kids to listen to while they did the worksheet.

When he got to the part about dreaming of little white children and little black children joining hands and playing together, one little (Indian) boy shot his hand up and asked why he dreamed about that. I explained that in MLK’s day, children of color were not supposed to play or mix with white children and that they were sent to different schools, eat at different restaurants and couldn’t even share a water fountain.

The appalled little faces turned towards me shook me a little; and when one little (white) girl said, “But we’re all together now, so he’s got his dream.” I teared up a bit. The kids are alright.

ladyrockess

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


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