6 Memorable Teaching Moments and Lessons Learned From Them

By Kirsten Hammond

As the school year winds down, many teachers find themselves reflecting on their experiences, thinking about what went well and what didn’t, and questioning their career path.

In this blog post, I want to share some of my own reflections and memorable teaching moments from my own career as an educator of almost a decade.

Whether you’re feeling uncertain or simply seeking a connection, I hope my stories resonate with you and offer some valuable insights.

teacher in classroom
Teaching one of my first lessons, 2012

How I Got into Teaching

Like many educators, my journey into teaching wasn’t a straightforward one. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, I never imagined myself becoming a teacher.

Looking back, I realize that my childhood tendencies, from playing school with stuffed animals to helping my teachers after school (I got to even grade papers!), hinted at my true passion. It wasn’t until a college job as an after-school camp counselor that I had my epiphany: I wanted to be a teacher.

I went forward with graduating with my degree in psychology and completed a Master of Education degree in Elementary Education. I was also able to obtain a teaching certificate during my Masters program.

While I won’t dive into my whole journey here, I do have a very interesting path in who I am and what I do today!

6 Memorable Teaching Moments and What I Learned

1. Overcoming Professional Challenges

One of my memorable teaching moments relates to my student teaching experience. This particular moment taught me valuable lessons about resilience and self-belief.

Despite starting on a positive note, my relationship with my mentor teacher quickly soured due to her control issues and a lack of support. Feeling discouraged, I reached a breaking point.

However, with the support of my supervising teacher, I was able to transfer to a new school with a new mentor teacher. It was a much better experience and I was able to complete my student teaching with her support.

Lesson Learned: Stay resilient in the face of adversity, and don’t let negative experiences define what you are capable of.

2. Navigating Toxic Work Environments

Another of my teaching moments happened at school I worked at that had a very complex and toxic work environment. Encountering high school-like drama among colleagues became very stressful and at times made me feel uncomfortable. At the time, I wasn’t sure how to properly address the situation.

Ultimately, I realized the importance of maintaining professional boundaries and prioritizing a positive work environment as much as I could.

Lesson Learned: Not everyone will be your friend, and that’s okay. Focus on fostering a supportive and inclusive classroom community instead.

3. Embracing Unexpected Opportunities

One of my memorable teaching moments relates to a a surprise transition to fifth grade. This moment challenged me and led to unexpected growth.

While I initially was resistant to the change, I soon discovered a passion for teaching older students and found joy in the unique challenges and rewards of 5th grade.

Lesson Learned: Embrace change and adaptability. Sometimes, the greatest opportunities arise from unexpected shifts in our plans.

memorable teaching moments of my classroom flooding from harvey
This photo of workers moving items out of my flooded classroom was featured in a local news article.

4. Finding Strength in Community

The devastation of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 tested our resilience as a school community. Facing loss and uncertainty, we rallied together, supporting one another and rebuilding amidst adversity.

Through a variety of efforts and community support, we transformed tragedy into an opportunity for growth and solidarity.

Lesson Learned: Lean on your school or local community for support during challenging times. Together, you can overcome even the most daunting obstacles.

5. Navigating COVID-19

The year 2020 will forever be etched in our memories as the time when the world came to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like many of you, I found myself thrust into remote teaching, a journey filled with both challenges and silver linings. While saying goodbye to my students virtually was heart-wrenching, it reinforced the importance of showing appreciation to our students every single day.

Lesson Learned: Despite the uncertainties, remote teaching taught me resilience, adaptability, and how to be creative to engage students virtually.

6. Unexpected Transitions

Another pivotal moment in my teaching career came when I faced an unexpected transfer to a different school, amidst the chaos of the pandemic and being in my third trimester!

The news, delivered just a week before the start of the school year, left me with a wide variety of emotions. Despite the uncertainty, the school ended up being a positive and supportive experience.

Lesson Learned: This experience taught me the importance of taking unexpected challenges in stride, relying on a support system, and embracing new opportunities even in the face of adversity.

teacher in classroom 2
Selfie in my final classroom before going on maternity leave.


Reflecting on these teaching moments, I’ve come to realize that despite the unpredictable nature of our profession, there’s a resilience that defines us as educators.

From navigating unprecedented crises to embracing unexpected transitions, each experience has equipped me with valuable lessons and insights.

It’s a reminder that despite the highs and lows, there’s always an opportunity for growth, learning, and finding strength in the face of adversity.

Check out my community of upper elementary social studies teachers if you’re looking for extra support from educators like you!

kirsten hammond

Kirsten is a former 3rd and 5th grade teacher who loves helping upper elementary teachers by creating resources and sharing ideas that are engaging, research-based, and TEKS-aligned. She is a work-from-home mama of 3 rambunctious little ones and loves running, true crime, and lots of coffee.

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