From Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrates Teachers


Second-grade math can be challenging, and not just for the students. As a second-grade teacher I was always looking for new ways to help my students understand the concepts of “borrowing” and “carrying” when doing addition and subtraction problems.

Lynn was having a particularly hard time with subtraction. Every attempt to help her understand was met with the same blank look. Her difficulty focusing on a task was not helping matters.

Determined to help her be successful, I worked with Lynn, one-on-one, every day for a few minutes during recess. We tried large-muscle activities, manipulatives and worksheets. Sometimes we would sit together at her desk and work. She enjoyed the extra attention, but still the concept eluded her.

One day, it seemed as if the light was finally beginning to dawn for Lynn and subtraction. We were standing at the chalkboard working on a subtraction problem. Her normally distracted demeanor was subdued, and she was intently watching me, hanging on my every word.

Silently I was congratulating myself and reveling in one of those rewarding moments in teaching when you know that learning is taking place.

When I finished my explanation, I was confident that we had had a breakthrough. Lynn’s attention had not wavered.

“Do you think you understand it now, Lynn?” I asked, sure that I was destined for the Teachers Hall of Fame.

Lynn paused, still focused on me. With furrowed brow, she cocked her head to one side. Pointing her finger up toward me, she finally spoke. “Mrs. Henderson,” she asked, “are those your real teeth?”

Sara Henderson

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