Number Ten – Plant A Seed of Belief – The 30 Goals Challenge

Yours truly in kindergarten in Canada!

Starting with a little flashback: As some of you may already know, I was born in Canada and when I was eight my parents moved with us to their homeland, Greece. Before we moved, we went to Greek school in Toronto every Saturday and every afternoon we had the (dreaded by us and what my mom called) To Elliniko Tetradio (The Greek Notebook), where we copied endless texts in Greek selected by mom. Our Greek was okay by the time we moved but not perfect. Personally speaking, my accent and pronunciation suffered a lot and I did not have such a wide vocabulary (probably because I did not really like Greek school in Canada and I refused to speak to my mom, who insisted and looking back on it now, I am so glad she did!). Anyway, my sisters and I were unfortunately tormented at our new school and bullied for our accents – we were also called the foreigners for quite a few years. While my sisters coped with it, my confidence totally sank and I thought I would never learn. But my teacher at that time and for the rest of primary school, Anthony Kontos (with whom I am still in contact today), believed in me and helped me so much, even staying extra with me and showing me how to pronounce words correctly, patiently and in his truly lovely way. My Greek improved quite a lot and I started to believe in myself again.

When I became a teacher, I vowed never to let any student’s confidence falter and try my best, just like Mr. Kontos had tried with me. So one year, a new student appeared at our school – let’s call him John. He was a bright-eyed boy (now he is almost eighteen!) and he loved playing soccer and with his Playmobil. His mother informed us that John was dyslexic and had many problems at school. Other kids made fun of him and challenged his intelligence and other horrible things. The worst thing was that his schoolteacher never bothered to help him and also had told him he was “not so bright”. I was around 22 at the time and had never worked with someone who had a learning difficulty before. I could not sleep in the beginning, thinking of how and if I could help him. I knew he could do great things – only if he could believe in himself.

So my sisters and I set our hands upon any specialised book we could find on dyslexia and even consulted a specialist who worked in the local university. But what I was thinking was that John himself had to open up and really see what he could do. So when he did not understand something or found it difficult to apply something he had learned, I asked him what he thought would help him most of all. He said something very important: Only when I see pictures, then I can remember things. So when we had a lesson, I never sat down, but wrote everything on the board and made little pictures and designs, underlined with colourful board markers (but not too many flashy things as they could overwhelm him). Simple and clear line designs. And a few months later…John could apply complex grammar such as the passive voice – and he could explain how it worked and even use it in his speaking. His schoolwork also started to improve as he believed more and more in himself. He even started dreaming of becoming an architect.

Plant a seed of belief in every student! (Image taken from

There are so many students out there, not only with learning difficulties, but from broken homes or with other issues that hinder them from believing in themselves. It is up to the educators to find these issues, help their students overcome them and raise their confidence levels. It is definitely worth all the sleepless nights and thinking and studying, because once you see them with faith – it is all the motivation you need to help the next kids you find in a negative mindframe.

Planting the seed of belief in one student can help and then another and another!


16 thoughts on “Number Ten – Plant A Seed of Belief – The 30 Goals Challenge

  1. So moving and so true!
    Amazing how your instincts were so true that you could help a dyslectic student with no formal training – good for you!

    It’s good that a student has a few teachers, one can never predict the “chemistry” between student and teacher! While one was so meaningful for a certain student, a different staff member may be more helpful for another.

  2. Lovely, lovely post, Vicky! And, so important.

    A little bit of confidence and increase in self esteem can go a long, long way!

    1. Hi Carol!

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting – I am very happy you liked the post!

      Your last sentence could be a great and motivational motto for education. Absolutely beautiful!

      Many thanks,

  3. Hi Naomi!

    I really appreciate your comment – you summed it all up so well! It is about chemistry as well, I agree with you.

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Steph!

      Thank you very much – I try my best every day and I am inspired by all those excellent teachers that I have connected to on Twitter or met at events and kept in touch. I appreciate your reading the post and commenting!

      See you soon at an ETAS event, perhaps?

      Kindest regards,

  4. Vicky!!!!!!

    What an inspiring post! Like you I really care for my students, and have a special soft spot for the “underdog”, those students who have low self-confidence and many times are ignored or mocked by the rest of the class. I know building student’s self-confidence is not exactly in our job descriptions, but I take it very seriously. And so do you! How lucky that boy was to become your student!

    It makes my day when I read stories like yours, because they show me we can make a difference on our students’ lives, we really can, and not only on a language level.


    1. Hi Ceci!!!

      Thank you so much for your moving comment – I have read many times on your blog how much you help all the kids in your classes, and especially those who have less confidence. It is educators like you who make a difference and who make everything worthwhile for the children and education as a whole.

      Thank you so much again – I will be very happy to meet you face to face in Paris this November! It will be the highlight of the year : )


  5. Great post, what teaching is all about…
    Now, what is the 30 goals challenge and where are numbers 1-9…I want to read those too! (Or 30-11, if it worked that way around..)
    Lizzie. 🙂

    1. Thank you very much Lizzie!

      The 30 Goals Challenge is the idea of super Shelly Terrell – you can read about them on her blog here: She did it last year as well, with different goals (you can also read them on her blog). Thousands of educators around the world have joined her – it is awesome how she has inspired us all! She has even written a book on them which will come out in the fall. I am looking forward to buying that one!

      To read the goals I wrote from 1-9, you just have to scroll down the page on my blog and you’ll see them – when you get to the end of the page, just click on Previous Entries and you’ll find the ones before as well.

      Thank you so much Lizzie! Hope I have helped.

      Kindest regards,

  6. Απαιτεί εξαιρετική υπομονή, αγάπη και εφευρετικότητα όλο αυτό. Πολλές φορές δεν τα καταφέρνω και αγανακτώ. Άλλες πάλι είμαι πιο αποτελεσματική. Έχω παιδιά με μαθησιακές δυσκολίες, έχω και παιδί με Asperger και, κυριολεκτικά, τα ‘χα δει όλα, ειδικά στην αρχή, όσο χρειάστηκε να με μάθει και να τον μάθω. Τώρα τα πάμε καλύτερα, αλλά κι εγώ έμεινα νύχτες άυπνη ή άρρωστη από αυτή την ανασφάλεια αν όλα θα πάνε καλά ή όχι.

    Απόλυτα ενθαρρυντικά τα ποστ σου! Και κίνητρο για να συνεχίζω. Να ‘σαι καλά! 🙂

    1. Akrivos Marilia mou!

      Ta eipes toso teleia, pou pragmatika den exw tipote na prosthesw! Diskoli periptwsi to paidaki me Asperger, alla eimai sigouri oti tha ta katafernes kai tha voithouses auto to paidaki! Kai tosa alla.

      Tixera ta paidakia pou se exoun – kai auta apo o,ti vlepw sto blog sou einai asteria!


    1. Hi Eva!

      Thank you so so much for your kind words. I try to do my best every day and find motivation in excellent educators like you! I am so happy I have discovered all of you on Twitter and met some of you in real life. It has totally transformed my teaching!

      Thank you again,

  7. Vicky I must say:


    It’s wonderful.

    I saw true love in your words, teachers like you simply make the difference…

    1. Dear Lucas,

      I really don’t know what to say except Thank you so much. Educators like you with all your support motivate me and keep me going.

      Now I think I have tears in my eyes…

      Kindest regards and many thanks,

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