School is an educational experience, in more ways than one. It can be enlightening, heart-warming, confusing, painful, and joyous all at once. Whatever the case may be, the memory of what happens in school remains etched on our minds for a long while. Here are some of the most indelible classroom moments imaginable.
1. Keeping It Together
All the way back in third grade we had one of the kindest female teachers, who even let us name her kid, Leo. One day she went outside the classroom to staple things onto the bulletin board while we were working on a paper in class. I don’t remember exactly why—I think it was because I needed to ask a question—but I went out to see her.
We were speaking to one another in the usual way until I noticed something horrifying: While she was speaking—lost in thought—she was busy stapling her own had. Up and down. Up and down. I couldn’t help but stare and went “Um, Miss.” Her reaction was just, “Oh. Oh, my God.”She was still super calm though. I asked if she was all right as her hand was bleeding a bit.
And she said that she was. She hadn’t realized what she’d been doing and didn’t feel a thing. Turns out she had nerve damage. I watched her pick the staples out. It was a strange blend of funny and gross.
2. A Hard-Hitting Message
Back when I worked in elementary schools, I worked with a hearing-impaired kindergartner. One day he shows up with this huge scab on his forearm so I ask him how it happened. He tells me that while riding his bike, he ran into a street sign and fell off his bike. I immediately imagined how funny it would be if he ran into a stop sign.
So, I asked him, “What sign did you run into?” He answered, “The ‘Deaf Child Playing’ sign!” Then he throws his hands up in the air and adds, “I ran into my own sign!”
3. Hamming It
So, I am a middle school teacher and have been doing this for ten years now. Students are not always at their best but this one takes the cake for the strangest discipline issue I’ve been a part of. Now, this was a few years ago, so I’ll refrain from direct quotes until the end. I used to work for a smaller school with a very small mix of students.
There were 20 or so students per classroom, 60 per grade. We had a classroom pet, a hamster named Amelia. Students have chores to care for the hamster before school and they respect that she is left alone during content parts of class, mostly. All the students love Amelia, and she frequently uses her hamster ball for exercise during study hall.
One day, we are all coming in from recess, and the alarm is raised. Amelia is gone and the cage is open. Now, Amelia is a little bit of a Houdini. If that cage is secured exactly right, she finds her way out. Never goes far, as most of the kids are very, very careful. So, it is not a commonplace event but no malicious intent is suspected.
As a class, we spend some time looking for her, and I pop over to my neighboring teacher’s room to give her a heads up. Our “wall” between our classrooms is a divider with hamster-sized gaps, so sometimes she’s over there. On my way back, I notice something strange in the hallway. A few pieces of the bedding in the cage are on the floor in the hall.
They are right in front of some of my student’s lockers, which are inches away. Now, as the hamster lives in my room and had never left breadcrumbs or shown signs of telekinetic abilities, my suspicions have been triggered. I call up admin, share that I am suspicious of the contents of said lockers, and asked if they would come do a locker check.
Admin agrees with my suspicion and decides a locker check in that area is warranted. Lo and behold, an opened locker reveals more bedding inside. Now, kids are weird. They collect weird things. If you had never seen the inside of a typical bank of middle school lockers you might be astounded by the variety of strange things that come out.
However, with Amelia at large, this is a bit concerning. A quick lookup leads us to Bob, the current user of the locker. Now, Bob went home during recess. He suddenly felt sick and had “thrown up” in the bathroom. Now, we don’t like to throw around accusations, but a tiny life is missing so we call up Bob’s mother. Bob’s understanding mother.
We explain what we’ve found, she’s upset and drags her son back into the school. Bob denies any knowledge of Amelia’s AWOL status. So, we ask about the bedding material. Bob claims he thought the bedding would be cool, so he took some of it weeks ago and we are only now noticing. This is despite the fact that the hallways are swept nightly.
But Bob is in this for the long haul. He starts to well up in tears and asks how we could accuse him of endangering Amelia in any way. Big crocodile tears are streaming down his face for a solid 20 minutes. It’s late, he’s not budging, and we are not a school that has cameras. We decide to give him the benefit of the doubt.
All of us classroom teachers—all eight of us since we are a small school—stay late and look for Amelia. We set up peanut butter traps—100% success previously—check in cabinets, and do the whole nine yards. Bob’s mom says she’ll keep an eye out, and we all go home. Over the next two days, students express concern and worry and Bob is right there with them.
He is so worried about her getting food. He expresses horror when a student suggests she got outside and may have become food. He helps search for her before school. Now, Bob has a little sister. She’s five, so not super reliable, but old enough. Three days later, Bob’s mother comes in when she brings him to school and asks to speak to me.
She is furious. Her daughter got scared of a little tan ‘monster’ running around her room and told her mother. I hand her some peanut butter and a shoebox and tell her how to set a trap. Meanwhile, Bob is getting unpacked, sulking and loudly complaining that his mother thinks he took the hamster and he’d never do that.
No one is surprised when his mom comes in about two hours later, Amelia safely captured, and thankfully unharmed. Well, Bob gets called to the office again. I’m on my prep and am asked to join. Now Bob does not know yet that his mother has come into the school. She asked us not to tell him and to give him one more chance.
Now, admitting mistakes is hard for anyone, much less a 14-year-old boy. Bob is evidently an excellent actor as he is crying again about how he’s being hounded. These are big ol’ crocodile tears. But that’s not the best part. He brings up the Salem Witch Trials, he accuses us of discrimination, and the indignation is endless. Our admin patiently waits for him to stop talking.
Bob is still sniffling. Once he stops talking, the admin tells him that his mother has just found and dropped off Amelia. Bob tries one more time. Tearfully, he explains that his friend gave him a hamster and it just so happens to look like Amelia but truly and honestly that is not her. Now, our admin is a “wait them out” kind of guy.
He sits in silence and just looks at Bob. It’s a staring contest for two minutes. I remain silent because I just don’t know what to say at this point. It’s so quiet you can hear the clock ticking as each second goes by. All of a sudden Bob stops sulking, sits up straight and says in his normal voice, “Ah. I thought I could get away with it.” If Bob becomes an A-list actor someday, I would not be surprised.
4. A Prime Case Of The Giggles
I got moved to teaching young kids this year. I used to teach grades ten and above before this but now I work in a school in the UAE, and they have a different system here. Anyway, I was teaching in a grade four class today and was talking to the kids about how plants can make their own food, using photosynthesis, while animals can’t.
So, one of the brightest kids in the class—and this kid is just a genius—puts his hand up with this mischievous smile on his face. I was curious to see what’s up because the last I checked there is not anything funny about photosynthesis. Right? So, I call on the boy to speak up and his smile widens even more with each word he says.
He says, “Mr., if an animal gives birth to a baby and then eats it, does that count as animals making their own food?” He started giggling at the end of his question. In response, I laughed uncontrollably for a solid two minutes. All the other kids in class looked at me as if I was crazy.
5. A Solid Plan
I teach at a large high school, with over 3,000 students, in the middle of a very urban area, one of the 10 largest districts in the US, so we get all kinds of students. We are also 1:1, meaning every student gets issued a laptop for doing their schoolwork. My co-worker was having an issue with a female student during class.
Basically, my co-worker asked the girl to put her laptop up as they were doing an in-class activity, and supposedly this is an ongoing issue. This turned into an argument—but the student turned around and told my co-worker something scandalizing: “I don’t need school, I’ll make more than enough money playing online poker.” Well, good luck with that, I guess.
I hope you make enough money to get another laptop once the school takes theirs back once you graduate or you’re finally kicked out.
6. Kidding Around
I used to work at a summer camp for the children of wealthy faculty and alumni of my university. I was a homeroom monitor, which basically meant I spent all day with the same set of kids—ages six to nine, plus one four-year-old—as well as taught their first, middle, and final class of the day, which was reading, crafts, and music.
I had a horrible coworker, whom we will call Angel, who taught their mathematics class which they took after mine. Because she had worked at the department a few months longer than I, Angel assumed that she had seniority over me and could do whatever she wanted. My fiancé, who worked as the nurse/PE coach for the camp, had previously had a run-in with Angel.
Apparently, she had hit on him, he turned her down, and she reported him to the supervisor for “inappropriate conduct.” The supervisor, who was a rather close friend of ours, wasn’t having any of it, and he gave me an explicit warning, stressing that Angel was manipulative. Anyway, Angel had a terrible habit of running over into my second-class period.
This was mainly because hers was the shortest of the day. It was 45 minutes, as opposed to the hour and fifteen mine had and was rather bitter about it. On this particular day, my kids were being awful in the morning, so I was quite flustered. She, as usual, had decided that she wanted to run over into my class period again.
So, as soon as the clock signaled the end of class, I knocked on the door. The kids, knowing it as a signal to get ready to leave, headed for the door. Angel proceeded to yell at the students to sit down because she dismissed them and not me. So, I said politely that she was running into my class period. So, she turned to me and yelled.
She said, “You do not tell me what to do. I am superior to you and you have to listen to me. So, you can leave and come back in 15 minutes.” The kids became very silent, and I was in shock. One of the first rules they tell us is to be civil in front of the kids. I was actually quite surprised that the children got out of their desks and followed me out the door.
They did so despite her yelling and storming after us. She tried to pull me back by my arm, but because she only weighed 90 pounds, of course, her efforts were futile. As we walked to the building, which was across the campus, the kids were surprised because of the way I had handled the situation. Their comments were along the lines of, “Man, Miss, you were so calm. I would have punched her.”
“You should have roundhouse kicked her like Chuck Norris!” And my favorite little nine-year-old looked up at me and quietly responded, “Miss Angel is a meanie.” Angel had called the supervisor, of course, who told her to get over it. So, she called the superintendent who came to observe the classes the following day. My kids, ever the loyal little pains in the neck, were absolutely perfect in my first class.
As we walked to Angel’s room, one of my boys whispered something diabolical, “Don’t worry, Miss. We have your back.” I dropped them off at Angel’s room with the superintendent, where they were greeted with cookies, fingerpaints, and pie charts for mathematics, and walked back to my classroom across campus to eat and prepare for my lesson.
It takes 15 minutes to get there, and as soon as I walk in, my walkie-talkie lets out a distress signal. I bolted out the door and got back to the math building in record time. I was welcomed with the sight of 20 screaming kids, fingerpaints, and cookies all over the floor, and well, a crying Angel and a distressed-looking superintendent.
“Handle this!” he said, as he pulled me in the door, and the chaos stopped. The children retrieved their things and lined up at the door quietly. Angel was asked to stay behind with the superintendent, while I escorted my kids to my classroom, and proceeded to have a pleasant lesson. The superintendent came to my classroom just as we were preparing for lunch.
He informed me that I would be teaching mathematics from now on, receiving half of Angel’s pay, because she was being removed. I could have sworn I saw some of the kids fist-pumping. Apparently, Angel was convinced that I put the kids up to it, and said a few choice words about me, as well as some of the other faculty.
One of these mentioned people happened to be the superintendent’s niece. My little kids really followed through for me. I couldn’t have been prouder of them, albeit a little guilty (not guilty) about Angel.
7. Getting Input
This teacher tale comes after four of my grade seven boys received suspensions and a technology ban that lasted the entire summer until the next school year. This ban included their school email and Google accounts being shut down. What did they do? Well, it started last week. My principal gave me the go-ahead to do a big final project instead of a final exam.
We’d been working away on them in class when I passed by one of my mischievous little rascals—instead of doing his work, he had a very offensive phrase written on his computer in a Google Doc. I don’t think that this kid is prejudiced; he just usually goes out of his way to be as offensive as possible for the shock factor. And it didn’t end there.
What the vice principal and I didn’t realize was that there were four boys involved, including the one caught last week, with this Google Doc and it was 20 pages long with every offensive thing they could possibly think of—cartoon gore, explicit pictures, profanities, etc. They formatted it and color-coded what offensive material they included.
This document was a 20-page, thought out, meticulous, offensive monstrosity that had more effort applied than anything any of them have done all year long, and our school Google Accounts all link to one another. These links are not just to accounts in the school, but in the entire school division. What do these four boys do next?
Well, they end up sharing this document with the only Christian school in our school division. A kindergarten to grade six school. And they shared it not just with the school’s main email address read by the secretaries, but with every student, teacher, and staff member at the Christian School, all of whom received an email asking them to edit this Doc.
Our school found out when their principal called their principal demanding to know how we let this happen. Is it summer yet?
8. Watching You
My last period of freshman on a Friday, the week after spring break, was nothing short of excruciating. Off-task behavior, no demonstration of respect in our discussion, just 33 annoying 14–15-year-olds. I bet I could disappear and they wouldn’t notice. This was my time to scare the wits out of them and end this for good.
Standing at a robust 5’2, it is easy for me to stealth around my class. I decided to go to my place in the corner atop a cabinet about two meters (eight feet) off the ground, where I can essentially perch like a gargoyle. This isn’t uncommon so the students that saw me didn’t think much of it. There, I found my creepy pig mask that I use during our unit on Lord of the Flies.
I put the mask on and just silently stare down. The bell rings, kids look around to be dismissed and can’t find me. Then, slowly, their reaction goes from, “Where is…what in the world is that?” The shock, fear, and utter disbelief that they had a teacher just this strange was oddly satisfying. I remained perfectly still until they were silent.
Then I cocked my head to the side, and said, “Dismissed.” They filed silently from the room, I stayed in my corner, and thought what a great start to the weekend!
9. Going Viral
Last year, we had a task in school that involved making a video. I wasn’t able to come on the day my class presented their videos, so I gave the teacher my USB drive—she insisted that she “can’t download files” so I can’t send it—and we agreed that I’ll present it with another class. A while later, I get my USB drive back as well as a grade.
After inserting it into my computer, I’m greeted with something strange: All of my files are shortcuts. 15 minutes, a few Google searches, and an antivirus scan later, I got rid of the trojan horse and recovered my files. I hoped this episode was over, but nothing could be further from the truth. A few days later, I’m with the other class and everyone is getting ready to show their videos.
A student inserts their USB drive and starts searching for their video, when suddenly I see—all of the files are shortcuts. Immediately, I tell the student not to open the file, and explain that it’s a virus and opening the shortcuts will activate it. I offer to fix it after the lesson, and the next student inserts their drive.
What a surprise—all of the files are shortcuts. Confused, I try to insert my own drive, which I know is clean, and lo and behold, shortcuts. Realizing that the computer is the one affected by the virus and it’s infecting the drives, I try to explain the situation to the class. Right afterward, in the corner of my eye, I spot the teacher trying to insert another USB drive.
I told her that if she inserts the drive, it’ll get a virus. She looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t care.” And inserted it anyway. For the rest of the lesson, I remember barely restraining myself from yelling, “No, no, no. Don’t insert it,” and pulling the teacher’s hand away, as she inserts drive after drive, opening the “videos” one by one.
Thankfully, the issue got resolved later. About a week after that lesson, the teacher asked me to copy all the videos to her own USB drive, which, of course, was infected as well. She let me use one of the teachers’ computers, which was clean, so I was able to manually remove the virus from each drive. They also got someone to install an antivirus in all the school computers.
Apparently, that virus spread like wildfire, and almost every single school computer in the city was infected. By the way, I still don’t know what the virus actually does aside from infecting USB drives and other computers. And, boy, am I thankful for that.
10. Foolproof Plan
So, it’s term three in Australia. This term is the “pay for end-of-year events” term, so I make regular commentary about ensuring school fees are sorted, that they’re getting their formal costs planned, etc. so there are no surprises next term. I also always ask my year 12 classes if they want me to go to formal to see them off.
But this year my morning class is graduating too so it’s doubly special. I’ve had these kids for four years so jokes and banter are pretty common among us. The phrase “get your outfits sorted early so you don’t end up at formal with me looking better than you” has passed my lips to much amusement. These are really good kids.
Anyway, I’d been helping one girl with some problems she’d been having with mathematics last week. Yesterday she turns up in my staff room. I figure she just wants to ask math questions but instead she goes with, “Sir, are you going to the formal?” I tell her of course, as I want to see them all off and say goodbye properly.
She then starts to open her bag. I jokingly go, “Ooh what’s this? Are you asking me to the formal?” Her response is so much better than I could have ever imagined…Instead, she pulls out a giant family-sized chocolate bar. She offers it up to me with the explanation, “This is for you, sir, so you eat it and get fat so you don’t look better than me at the formal.” I spent the next ten minutes practically wetting myself with laughter.
I was so proud of her. Also, the chocolate bar was delicious.
11. Having A Handle On Things
Whenever I take the roll, I usually get the class to answer a question rather than simply saying “here.” In my Year Seven English class today, I asked everyone to name one fact they knew about WWII because of the book we’re studying at the moment. One boy was clearly the expert, so I asked him to come to the front.
I, then, gave him a whiteboard marker and put a world map up on the projector, and asked him to explain the event. He spoke flawlessly for over 40 minutes and the class was riveted. At one stage, he said to a couple of boys, “Excuse me, but why are you on your iPads? If it’s because you’re doing research, I can assure you that I know what I’m talking about.” He is 12.
12. Calling A Spade A Spade
I had asked my eighth-grade students to write a one-sentence summary of America’s reaction to Japan targeting Pearl Harbor as an exit ticket and share them with the class. Most students had the expected reaction of “America got mad and nuked Japan,” or more accurately, “America retaliated against the Japanese and entered WWII”.
John, who normally doesn’t interact in class except to act up, raises his hand politely. I took a risk and let him share his piece which was, to put it politely, “America’s reaction to the Pearl Harbor attack was essentially, ‘Talk Nonsense, Get Hit.’” I burst out laughing. It was such a “John” response which also happened to be such a “me” response.
The rest of the class, including John, didn’t know what to do. I regained control and through stifled laughter explained that his actual word choice could have been better but the sentiments were accurate. Next time I’d discipline the cursing but for now, they were free to go to lunch. John tested the boundaries later by trying to curse and make me laugh, which caused some small issues, but ultimately, he learned to keep the language professional.
Still though. “Talk nonsense, get hit,” is a great way to summarize the US’s reaction.
13. Dealing In Truth
Most of our “substance education” materials read like they were written by Amish people who watched movies about 1960s New York. Honestly, the takeaway is that some stranger is going to approach you on the street and try to force substances on you. This was what I walked into when I went to take over a class. Their assignment was to write what they would do in such a situation.
The kids started sharing what they would do if anyone ever offered them some dubious substance. Responses ranged from “be random” to “run screaming.” It still makes me sigh. Having had enough of this ridiculousness, I finally stopped them, made them put down all materials, and finally decided to teach them how the things in question may be presented.
I asked them, “I’m not going to bust you, but has anyone in the room ever taken gum from a friend or classmate?” Hands rose around the room, except for one student. I said to the student, “Really, Gunter? You’ve never taken gum from anyone?” He promptly replied, “No, teacher. I’m the one who has the gum.” I then said, “Well, we’ve met our dealer.”
All the kids look confused. I had to clarify that, in many cases, taking dubious substances was as easy as grabbing a piece of gum from a friend. That, in most cases, it was friends or family who introduced people to the “habit,” not a stranger. Once that was clarified, the students decided that there were better responses than the ones they had previously come up with.
They now thought that maybe, “I’m not into that.” “My mom would be mad at me if I tried something when I’m still a kid,” or “You shouldn’t be doing that, let alone offering it,” were better responses. A few years later, I ran into Gunter, but he didn’t remember my referring to him as the class dealer, but he did think the story was funny.
14. Quite A Spectacle
I’m at a middle school building—seventh and eighth grades—doing my student teaching. Prior to this, I’d been a substitute teacher in the district for about two years. So, I’ve had every student in the building in one classroom or another at some point prior to my student teaching. Sixth period I have lunch duty. The school has two lunch periods, one for each grade.
The period is split in half with the girls eating first while the boys are in an “activity period,” and then they switch. I monitor the seventh graders. The first week, they can sit wherever they like and at the beginning of the second week, their table choices get “locked in.” So, I notice that one particular table has six girls that are all good students and happen to all wear glasses.
As I’m wandering the lunchroom, I’m looking at this table, pondering them, when one of the girls asks what’s up. I mention my above notice and tell them that I was trying to think of a nickname for their table, but I don’t like the one I came up with. They beg me to tell them anyways and I say, “The Respectacles,” combining respect and spectacles.
The combination seemed suitable to me on account of them being strong glasses-wearing ladies. They go nuts for it. Two days later they call for my attention and as I turn to look, they all simultaneously adjust their glasses, strike intellectual-looking poses, and say “Respectacles!” while nodding. This week they told me that I need glasses too so I can be part of the team.
Apparently, I’ve got a posse now.
15. Making A Difference
I work as a high school biology teacher in a K-12 private school in the UAE, and last week was our final exams season. During these days students just come in, do their exams, walk out at around 10 am, and then we teachers stay in school grading the papers. Last exam day, which is the last day for students as well, was last Wednesday.
However, the school year is not over for us teachers. We have to stay an extra two weeks for PDs, curriculum mapping for next year and such other things. The story occurred during one of the staff meetings this morning. I met up with one of the grade one teachers, who just happens to be the mother of one of my grade ten students.
She went on talking about how her daughter (let’s call her Anna for now) really enjoyed biology this year and how happy she was with her performance on the final exam. On the day of the final, Anna told her mom that she felt like she aced the test. Here I confirmed that she did! And I tell the mother that Anna is one of the best, brightest and coolest students I’ve ever worked with.
And that is totally true. This is when the mother goes on saying that Anna didn’t like biology earlier. She had been in a different school last year and had not liked her science teachers back there. Now apparently, after I began teaching her, Anna kept boring her parents about random biology facts she learned in school that day on a daily basis.
Upon further conversation, I learn that today, Anna is seriously considering a career in dentistry. And that’s when it hit me. I did that. I know it was not me who turned Anna into this smart young lady who is going to do all these awesome things in her future. She was all those things from the very day that she was born.
All I did was show her that biology can actually be fun, and she did all the rest on her own. And that’s what my job is as a teacher, to help students realize that they can do pretty much anything, even turn things they once thought were boring into exciting career choices. This is basically why I love teaching, and why I became a teacher in the first place.
16. Picky Eater
I have this one kid in my class who might be the chubbiest five-year-old I know. You’d think he would stuff anything down his throat. But the past two weeks, he’d eat maybe one or two bites from the lunch we provide. And it was all good food, like pizza, spaghetti, grilled cheese, and of course fruits and vegetables, but he would make a disgusted face each time.
All right, so I was serving lunch today, and we had chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, and apple slices. Surely, you’d think this boy would tear down on this food. But I noticed that he wasn’t eating once again, so I asked him if he didn’t like it, like I ask him every day. Of course, he was like, “No, I don’t like chicken nuggets.”
Now I was frustrated, and I asked him, “Well, what do you even eat??” This kid replied, “Pancakes and oatmeal.” I asked, “Anything else?” He said, “That’s all.” Man! I know I was a picky eater when I was little, but, in my opinion, this is just ridiculous.
17. Out Of Character
I came into my ninth-grade physics class today to several of the boys jeering at a girl in the class. I overheard something that sent a chill down my spine–something about “a video,” and “The whole school’s seen it!” I quietened them down and proceeded with the usual teaching of physics in my class. Afterward, I pulled the girl aside and asked her what was going on.
She then told me what was going on. She said, “I was at a party over the weekend. It was a sleepover party with all girls. We were playing truth or dare. Someone recorded a video and put it on Snapchat. It was a video of me. Cursing.” She’s a very sweet girl. She insists that she doesn’t swear. At all. This incident had clearly been out of character for her.
I told her that she should probably talk to her friends about how she wasn’t comfortable with them recording her, and certainly not with them sharing a video. She merely said that it was okay because “They all know that I don’t really curse.”
18. Timing It Right
We had a two-hour delay at my school today due to a snowstorm last night. This, of course, always messes up my kindergarteners’ schedules because they come in two hours later, eat breakfast (in my school it is free along with lunch), have their morning meeting, and they go straight to lunch. One of my little girls comes up to me as they are all unpacking.
She says, “Ms. Duggatron! I slept until 10:55 this morning!” I respond, “Hmm. It’s 10:55 right now, did you just wake up?” Pat replies, “Wait. I can tell time!” I’m genuinely not sure if this was just a stroke of luck that she said this random time till which she slept in. Maybe it was a result of her being confused by our delay. Or maybe she can subconsciously tell time and used it without realizing it to tell her story.
I just know the way she said that last part cracked me up for a while. Kids say the strangest things.
19. Salty Humor
We just finished our mineral unit in the eighth-grade earth science class I’m doing a leave replacement for, and I still had the mineral stations set up around the room. While working, one of the kids picked up a piece of talc and pretended to throw it at another kid. The other kid said, “Mr. B! He’s throwing a mineral at me, that’s assault!” I had the perfect comeback.
I pointed to the halite on the other side of the room and said, “No, that’s a salt, over there.” It took some of the kids a second to remember that halite was salt, but when they did, my joke was met with either groans or laughter. I consider it my crowning achievement in earth science puns so far.
20. A Smooth Ride
My mother is a high school math teacher and was teaching at a school that had mostly upper-class rich students. One of those kids had recently turned 16, and his parents bought him a brand-new Lexus for his birthday. After this point, the kid stopped showing up to class. Being a good teacher, my mom informed the school’s administration about the absences.
They then contacted the kid’s parents. The parents, in turn, got in contact with my mom. They asked, “What can we do to get him to go to class again?” The teacher suggested, “Why don’t you take away his car?” The befuddled parents asked, “But how is he gonna get to school without his car?” The teacher took a second to respond.
He then stated the obvious, “…the same way he did before he got his car?” This makes me glad that I don’t have to deal with those kinds of people.
21. Flying High
As a science enrichment instructor that teaches all over L.A. County, I meet all manner of students. Today I met a very quick-witted sixth grader. Her wrist was in a cast and using my standard line, I asked her, “What happened? A sky diving accident?” This usually ends with the kids staring at me trying to find a snappy answer. Today, however, I heard the best ever reply.
Once I asked my question, without even a pause she replied, “Yup, I tried to high-five a plane.” Bravo little sixth grader. You’re going to be okay.
22. Ending On A High Note
I’m not a teacher yet. I’m currently in college as an Earth Science major on the Education track, and I’ve started taking a few of my education classes, including Field Experience I, which involves us going to real schools to observe teachers in the field. I had a great time doing it last semester. The teacher I was paired with was awesome.
He was the kind of teacher that every single kid in the school loved, even kids that never had him. The kids in his class were great, and I got to know a few of them even though I was only there once a week for two months or so. On my last day of observing, we are covering erosion and deposition, and one of the students sees an axis on the graph labeled “mm yr-1.”
She asks what it means. The teacher’s a smart guy, but for whatever reason, he got himself confused with his explanation. He starts saying, “Well, 10-1 is 1/10, so that means that it moves that many mm in 1/10 of a year, so 36.5 days.” The students were so confused by this, so I said, “Excuse me, could I try to explain?”
He immediately handed me a marker and let me go up to the board. I said, “Okay, first off, ignore everything he said, he got confused,” and explained that it was just a fancy way to write mm/year. The girl who asked the question said, “Oh, that makes so much more sense!” and the teacher laughed and thanked me for saving the day.
At that point, halfway through the period, he remembered that it was my last day, and so he told the kids. Immediately, they all went, “No! It’s your last day! Oh, let him teach the class!” and before I could say anything, he handed me the clicker for the PowerPoint and put the class in my hands. I didn’t really know his lesson.
Nevertheless, I started talking and following his notes and pictures and asking questions to the students, and before I knew it, the period was over. The kids all waved goodbye to me, and some of them went up to me for a high five. I actually saw a bunch of the kids again at a Science Olympiad tournament last week, and they all remembered me.
They were excited to see me, and it was great. I just thought I’d share my fun story about my last day of observations with a wonderful teacher. The experience made me sure that teaching is what I want to do as a career.
23. Payback Time
I teach high school chemistry and many students and former students eat lunch in my room. Some of these students tend to post or draw pictures on my board or on the wall behind my desk and they’re usually pretty funny or interesting so I leave them up. However, one of these pictures was a cutout of Bradley Cooper’s face from People magazine.
Not that I really cared about it but I just didn’t feel like having a picture of Bradley Cooper’s face on my wall so I took it down. The student didn’t appreciate this and so there was a back and forth posting and tearing down of the picture until I decided to end it. I took the picture, cut out the eyes, and taped it into a manila folder.
I then colored in the eye holes with red sharpie and added a sheet of paper that said, “Forget something?” on it. I then put a very official-looking note on the cover of the folder and instructed one of my students to deliver it next door to that student. Unfortunately, my student gave it to the sub who was watching over the room.
She opened the folder instead of reading the note on the front and was instantly horrified and began yelling, “What is this?”, “What kind of teacher would send this?” and my personal favorite which I think was directed to the student, “Do you think this is art?” As a result, the student was flustered and declared retribution on me, which I felt was appropriate.
Fast forward to the day before we left for Christmas break—I hear over the PA that my car’s lights were on, which was strange because my car has lights that shut off automatically. I go outside to check on the car and get the biggest surprise ever: It is covered in small cut-out pictures of Bradley Cooper, including the face from the People magazine article.
The picture is underscored with a “Merry Christmas” written under it. I’m currently plotting my next move. This probably doesn’t seem like the most professional thing to do but these kinds of pranks can really lighten the mood as my school can be a pain to work at sometimes.
24. The Devil’s In The Details
As a second-grade teacher, I hear some funny things. One girl, we’ll call her Awesome Person (AP), liked to talk to me every morning while I was greeting students. I’d usually have to cut her off eventually so she could get ready for the day. She first told me stories about the night before. Once she trusted me and told me her biggest secret.
She whispered to me, “I have a secret,” and motioned for me to put my ear by her. I obliged and asked, “What is it?” She then revealed her secret to me, “You can’t tell anyone, but I’m a witch!” I played along and asked, “Oh! How do you know?” She clarified, “After school, I get on the witch bus that takes me to the witch world.”
I, then, asked her, “Well, can you tell the driver to pick me up?” She, however, replied, “Only witches can go.” That was the end of the story for that day. The next day I asked her, “AP, why didn’t you take me to the witch world?” She repeated her words from the previous day, “I told you, only witches can go!” I tried to cajole her and said, “Well, you could sneak me in!”
AP, however, was not up for it and said, “If I get caught, I’d go down to the bad place.” I ask with some trepidation, “What’s at the bad place?” She tells me, “That’s where the evil chicken lives.” Befuddled, I ask, “Evil chicken?” Then came the reveal, “Yeah! He lays deviled eggs!” I couldn’t keep it together. I kept laughing. I kept trying to go to the witch world for the rest of the school year, but she never did pick me up on the witch bus.
25. Flushed With Money
The entire recess blacktop was abuzz with zeal. The rumors spread like wildfire about someone having lots of money. Lots of money was a good thing, as everyone knew. Eventually, one of my students decided to tell me the rumor: Juan had a $100 bill. Juan was a kindergartener, charismatic, clever, smart, but tended to get into trouble. Daily.
So, I sidled up to Juan, who was surrounded by a bunch of kids with mouths agape and eyes transfixed on Juan’s hands. And in those hands, I saw him proudly displaying a crisp $100 bill. Having seen the situation myself, I said, “Juan, come with me.” He stared at me like a deer in headlights, clearly believing that he had done something wrong.
In his logic, it followed that he was about to be eviscerated for it. You know the look. After some prompting, we stepped away from the gaggle of five-year-olds to the brick wall of the school. I asked Juan, “Juan, where did you get that?” I got complete silence in response. Trying to be assuring, I said, “Juan, you’re not in trouble. Yet.
“You need to tell me where you got that money.” With his lip quivering, he blurted, “From Dylan.” I, then, asked, “Did you take it from Dylan?” Again, there was utter silence in response. So, I said, “How about I hold onto that for now, so that it remains safe and we’ll discuss it with your mom when she picks you up, okay?”
At the same time, I plucked the bill from his hand. Juan just nodded. Then, I said, “Okay, go play.” After that, I went to track down Dylan, who I did not know, but whom other children were happy to steer me towards. It turns out that Dylan was a second-grader, clearly older and bigger than Juan. I bent down to his height to talk to him.
I asked, “Dylan, did you talk to a kindergartener named Juan today?” Cheerfully, Dylan affirmed that he had and said, “Yup! He traded me three ‘money’ for just one.” Then, he asked, “Do I have to give them back because he’s a kindergartener?” It now looked like Dylan got conned so I asked him, “May I see what Dylan gave you?”
So, Dylan showed me what he had gotten in trade from Juan. Sure enough, it was three, slightly worn, one-dollar bills. I explained to him, “Dylan, this is three dollars. Did you know that you gave Juan $100?” Dylan clearly didn’t understand the question, so I took a different tack and asked, “Dylan, where did you get the money that you traded with Juan?”
Still puzzled why I’d be asking, he nonetheless joyfully told me, “From my grandpa. For lunch today.” This was after-lunch recess. But he still had the money. This made me wonder about his lunch, so I asked him, “Dylan, if Juan gave you three money and you still have it, how did you buy lunch?” He said a bit more softly, “I get free lunch.”
Clearly, there was a step in this story that was not adding up, but it was clear what the next step was and I said, “Oh, that’s fine. But what we’re going to do is that I’m going to hold onto this money for safe-keeping and can you tell whoever picks you up to come to talk to me?” I did the same that I had done with Juan and plucked the money from Dylan’s hand.
He nodded slowly. I assured him, “You’re not in trouble. I just need to make sure that the money is safe.” Then came the familiar sound of the recess bell. My kids flocked to their line-up spot, and I made a wide course in that direction, one that took me past the second-graders. I spied my target at the head of the line that Dylan had ran toward.
I spoke to another teacher and said, “Miss Stevens, Dylan was conned out of money today by one of mine. If you see whoever picks him up, please send them my way. And make sure to review money with your class. I’ll tell you the story later.” After that, I met my class and we walked back to our class. At the end of the day, I first let out my kids.
Then, I explained the story to Juan’s mother, handing her the three dollars at the appropriate point in the story. I made it clear that Juan wasn’t in trouble, but beaming with pride, so requested her, “Please talk to him about taking advantage of defenseless older children.” She smirked and thanked me, happy that for once I didn’t have a bad story to tell her.
About ten minutes later, I see an older gentleman head my way, Dylan in tow. I said to him, “I presume you’re Dylan’s grandfather! So nice to meet you!” After a quick retelling of the story, the gentleman confessed that he had noticed that the money was missing, but had just assumed that his daughter had taken it for groceries.
I made him promise to take this opportunity to refresh Dylan on what he had learned about how money works when he was in kindergarten.
26. Setting An Example
When my students are working independently during class time and their conversations start to get too rowdy, I will begin to circulate to quietly remind individual groups to watch their volume. I’ve found that making a general loud announcement to the whole class just escalates things. This works pretty well, but I also get the same response from just about every student to whom I make this individual request.
This response is along the line of, “Why are you not telling them over there? They’re talking!” I used to respond, “I’m getting to them, you worry about you,” which earned me eye rolls and general discontent. I just don’t have the time or energy to explain why that response is disrespectful so many times a day. It’s very rare that I just get respectful compliance.
Then I saw the episode of Last Week Tonight that talks about President Trump’s favorite argumentative techniques, one of which he and my students have in common: “whataboutism.” So now, instead of replying curtly about “staying in your lane,” I have the perfect remedy: “You know, Trump uses the same technique all the time. It’s called ‘whataboutism.’
And he uses it to say “well what about them” and distract from the things he does wrong. Do you want to be like Trump?” When they said that they don’t, then I say, “Then don’t.” Just for the record, while I didn’t vote for Trump, I’m not actually advocating a political stance with that line. Keep in mind I teach in a Title-One school in Texas.
So, I believe I’m just making a pre-existing general opinion work for me. Anything to make it through the last three weeks. Thanks for the object lesson, Mr. President.
27. Bearded In The Class
This happened a while back while I was a student-teacher. This tiniest grade one girl comes up to me and looks up at me—even more so than would usually be the case as I am above average in height. I was 21 years old and not married. The little girl asks me, Mr. UFOcatcher, are you married? I replied, “No dear, I am not married. Why do you ask?”
She responded with infallible logic, “Because you have a beard.” I, however, needed clarification and said, “Yes, I have beard. What does that have to do with anything?” She then made the concluding argument, “My daddy has a beard, and he is married?”
28. All Grown Up
I teach creative writing to kids in juvie, so this is more of a corrections tale than a teacher tale. Mea culpa. One of the warden ladies in the girls’ ward just told me a story about an 18-year-old girl who came in years ago for an unpaid driving ticket. The warden found her in her room, sobbing because she had a job as a bank teller and she was worried.
She was worried that she’d get fired for pulling a no-call no-show for all the days she’d been stuck in juvie. The warden knew someone who worked at the bank and called her up to say where the girl was, and that she was in on a technicality, and to please let her keep her job. This one act of kindness paid off. Many years later, the warden was out at a club and someone sent a bottle of fancy booze to her table.
It was the girl, all grown up, and she was a bank executive!
29. A Solid Foundation
This is my fourth year teaching, but my first time teaching third grade. I had been teaching kindergarten in the same school for three years prior to this year. I. Love. It. First of all, this is the class that I had in my first year teaching, so I have already built relationships with many of them. Second of all, they are so independent.
They can put their things away, pack up, tie their shoes, go to the bathroom, write, read, everything without me hovering over them. Finally, they are so very sweet. We had some free time today, and I had some kids playing with playdoh. I definitely took some things from the kindergarten world that I am not yet ready to give up on.
We had a “pizza” making contest. My kids were sharing the playdoh tools and playdoh so well and using manners without me having to give them reminders, and it made me want to cry to see that there is a light at the end of the kindergarten tunnel. They are functioning humans. Thank you to you kindergarten teachers out there.
I did three years of what you do, and I wouldn’t be able to handle anymore without burning out. I have so much respect for what you do. As for me, I will be kicking it in third grade for a while.
30. A Teacher Like No Other
During my first year of secondary, I met a whole bunch of people who I wasn’t comfortable with. A number of kids in my classes didn’t like me and regularly mocked me, and some of the teachers weren’t the greatest. In every class, I would be miserable, panicked, stressed, or frustrated. Sometimes the teachers would notice.
But sometimes they would not. Whatever the case was, each time the teacher in question didn’t handle it very well. After some research and information from a therapist I now have, I have realized that I could have anxiety and a panic disorder. This would actually make quite a lot of sense because certain things make me anxious.
And whenever something triggers it, the consequences are awful: I get really bad chest pain, nausea, dizziness, and pain as I breathe, and if it gets worse then I eventually end up shaking and crying. Whenever I do have these small attacks of anxiety, whether it be over something I don’t understand or having to work with people who don’t like me, I am taken outside.
Everyone’s eyes are on me, and I can tell that they still don’t like me because of me being a crybaby when nobody else is being so. They talk to me in a way like I’m younger than them, even though I’m the same age as almost everyone. Some of the teachers would also try and make me listen to them as they talk to me as if I couldn’t understand what they were saying.
This is despite my hearing and understanding being perfectly fine. And then, one day, this teacher comes back into school from a break she took while she was pregnant. She was my English teacher and my former tutor so I saw her a lot once she came back and replaced the one we had before her. The previous one was also someone I didn’t really like.
This was because they were quite strict and weren’t very kind to the students. When this person came in, though, I instantly liked her. I’ll call her Ms. Du. She was a very nice Canadian woman who respected all of her pupils. Most of the teachers I know wouldn’t tolerate jokes or snide remarks, but she frequently let them slide and even laughed at some.
She rarely gave people detentions and explained things very clearly so everyone could understand, unlike other teachers. She was also always very supportive of what everyone was doing, even if they did badly on a test, so pretty much everyone seemed motivated to do better. During the time I had her, I was dealing with very complicated and hard things.
I thought I was useless at everything and that my friends hated me, that my life should just end because nobody would miss me. There were times in Ms. Du’s lessons where I would grow anxious and these thoughts would intrude. She didn’t talk to me as if I was lower than her and she actually let me take a breather outside of her classroom.
She did this so I could come back in when I felt better, which literally none of the other teachers did. It’s pretty obvious that she was at the top of my list of teachers. I remember that in one of her lessons we were learning about bodily things. We eventually got onto the topic of reproductive parts. She told us that this was the only time we were allowed to swear during a lesson.
Ms. Du proceeded to write a related word on the board. Immediately, laughter broke out, because we’re immature. She asked us for synonyms of the word, and people put up their hands with varying answers. I’m struggling to hold back my laughter like everyone else as I raise my hand and give a suggestion, which Ms. Du actually praised me for.
I swear there is no other teacher out there who will congratulate you on knowing the meaning of the word that I had suggested. Then, as the year slowly came to an end, Ms. Du told us that she would be leaving the school to go to a different one closer to her family. This made me quite upset since she had the only lessons I actually looked forward to.
She kept being nice to us, but towards the end of the year, in her last few lessons before the last day, my class was acting really badly. Ms. Du was trying to let us watch The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe but nobody would fully stay quiet enough for us to watch it. She ended up pausing it and waiting for us all to be quiet.
This was because she herself didn’t want to be rude, and while she was standing there silently, she saw me sighing because this was how my class acted in literally every other lesson and I myself found it very rude of them to do this with a teacher like Ms. Du. After that lesson, she actually came up to me and apologized for the class’s behavior.
This made me even sadder about her leaving because her last day was the next day and we were acting like idiots towards her as she was about to leave us for good. So, when I got home, I came up with a special plan: I decided to give her a goodbye letter with a drawing. I drew Happy from Fairy Tail on a large heart with the words “You make me happy,” and on the back, I wrote a letter.
The next day, Ms. Du’s last day in school, I gave it to her—well, actually, one of my friends took it, saw the drawing, started saying how amazing it looked and handed it to her—and, before the first lesson, Ms. Du called me outside the classroom. She told me that the drawing was really good, and she actually gave me a response to my letter.
During one of my crying sessions, Ms. Du asked me what went through my head at these times. I answered her question through the letter and said how I called myself an idiot for never being able to be good enough for anyone. Outside the classroom, she told me the most refreshing and reassuring thing I’ve ever received from someone:
“Don’t ever concern yourself with someone’s expectations, because you’ll never live up to what they expect from you. It shouldn’t worry you so much because it doesn’t matter. If they expect so much from you, you don’t need to be good enough for them.” Honestly, those words were the best things ever. I ended up crying not from anxiety but from joy.
She made me feel so happy with those simple words, I don’t think anything else will make me as joyous as that. Also, in the letter, I asked her if I should write fanfiction to practice my writing skills as English is one of my favorite lessons. She also responded to that, saying that I definitely should because it would indeed help me write better.
She also said that I should definitely do something I enjoy. This too made me ecstatic. She supported something that I thought she wouldn’t! I also told her that I was sorry for the behavior of my class, and she said that there was nothing for me to be sorry for. Before I left her classroom, she told me that she would treasure my letter.
Throughout the day, I felt really happy. Once I got home, my sister, who went to the same school and had Ms. Du as her English teacher, told me that Ms. Du told her about my letter and how heart-warming it was. I still feel very happy at the thought of this teacher. She helped me through a really hard time and her advice meant so much to me.
However, as I realize how good she was, I realize how much I miss her because my new form tutor isn’t that great and my new English teacher shouts a lot. She was the best teacher I know and have had, and I really wish she was still here to help me. I know how important her family is, though, so I’m glad I wished her well and she’s spending more time with the people she loves the most.
I teach in a specialized special ed program in my county. My students range from Autism and Asperger syndrome to emotionally disturbed and everything in between. The upside and downside of the program is I have the students, typically, for all three years of high school math. This story involves one of my favorite students.
This took place in my second year of teaching in this program, and my second year teaching him. He was taking algebra in a year and a half, state test in January, and starting geometry curriculum in the spring. He was my first student attempting to take regular ed math as a junior, so I was trying to get him started on the geometry curriculum as much as I could.
The student told me, “Sir, I have some bad news.” I asked him what the issue was. The student said, “I’m not going to be here tomorrow.” I said that that was unfortunate. He then continued, “Well, actually I’m not going to be here all of next week either.” Surprised, I asked, “What? Why?” So, the student told me, “My parents are taking me to Mexico to see our family.
We have to start spring break early.” I replied, “Okay, I hope everything is fine.” The student said, “Oh, everything is fine. We are just going on vacation.” That triggered a three-minute rant in me as he pushed every emotional trigger I have. I was upset that he was going to miss so much instructional time. And I was also worried about next year. I just lost it.
Then he leaned across his desk and whispered, “April Fools.” I walked away muttering to myself about being tricked by a kid of mine. On the upside, he knew me better than any other student ever has, and I can laugh about it now.
32. In The Teacher’s Shoes
I teach English as a second language to kids in Korea. I’m not in Korea myself, though, so this is all done over teleconferencing software. The kids are all on separate computers in one classroom, while I’m on my computer at home; there are screens displayed for each of us, mine as the biggest and the kids’ screens smaller.
I can swap ’em around, though, and often swap one of the kids into my big screen, as an equivalent to “bringing them to the front of the class.” One class I have is once a week, six kids, all around 12 years old. They’re definitely some of my rowdier kids, for which I have a kid named James, or “Joker James” as I’ve nicknamed him, to thank.
James is one of those kids who manage to be clever clogs and class clowns simultaneously. He’s miles ahead in English compared to the rest of the class, and I get the feeling these classes are far too easy for him, so he jokes around a bit. A lot. But he jokes around in English, and it’s generally not too disruptive, so I tend to let it slide or even play along.
Now, lessons with Joker James can definitely be fun. Sometimes, though, he goes a little too far. One of these times happened just recently. I was having the kids read out various sentences, but every time I asked anyone who wasn’t named James, you-know-who would butt right in, talk over them, and basically ensure nobody else got a chance to answer anything.
I have a limit on the James tom-foolery I can put up with, and this blasted right through it. The first thing I tried was changing the number of screens on display—from seven screens to 20, and moving him onto the 20th. Then back to seven. Cue cries of anguish as James realizes that I’ve trapped him off-screen. Now I’m free to continue the lesson.
So, I prompt the next student to read out the sentence. And nope! James’s face may be off-screen, but that doesn’t mean his voice is. He’s immediately back to his old tricks, interrupting the student’s reading by barging in with his own. All right. Attempt number two. I bring him back on screen, but this time I hit the mute button by his name.
Peace and quiet, at last! Right? No dice. His shenanigans still come loud and clear through his neighbors’ mics. At this point, it’s clear that our Joker James is reaching an advanced level of troublemaking. None of the usual tactics are making any headway. I’m going to need something drastic if I want to counter this.
Something drastic. So, I switch him up to my big screen. I give him access to the virtual whiteboard tools—even while knowing I’ll probably regret it. “You’re the teacher now!” I announce from my own tiny student screen. And oh boy, the class is enthralled by this turn of events. And James. Well, he immediately takes it in his stride.”
He calls out to me. “Read this sentence!” he says, highlighting a sentence in the way I usually do. I oblige, putting on my best squeaky student voice, and making the others giggle in the process. “Very good, very good!” he commends me, then moves on to the next student. Unfortunately, the next student is Tom, who serves as the understudy class clown.
He takes over for James when he is absent and as James’s fellow conspirator when he’s around. Tom is currently booing James, “Bad teacher! Bad teacher!” He also refuses to do as he’s told. James, though—James skips right over him and moves onto the next student, a quiet kid named Luna who’s finding all this rather amusing.
She complies, reads out what she’s meant to be reading out, and the lesson continues. This is working far better than I expected. Pretty much everyone in the class is going along with it, and James is clearly enjoying the novelty of being “The Teacher.” Yet all good things must come to an end. James comes round to Tom again.
And yep, he’s still booing. Instead of skipping him again, James draws a box on the screen titled “Tom Boo,” then proceeds to imprison a stick figure drawing of Tom inside it. Yeah, this is going nowhere all over again. Had our fun, now it’s back to your regularly scheduled teacher. I confiscate his whiteboard access and swap our positions back.
I say, “Oh, look! I’m the teacher again!” Tom’s cheering and a fair few of the others are joining in. Even James chuckles. There are more cheers when I succeed in getting Tom to read out the next sentence, and it seems James is satisfied for now because he’s letting everyone have their turn. His reserve of shenanigans is now exhausted.
The lesson continues as normal for the rest of its duration. And that was the end of my most chaotic Joker James lesson yet. Maybe he’ll end up as a teacher someday. He certainly seems to enjoy it.
33. A Dated Question
I am an English teacher in Europe. I have a student whose parents have obviously never asked him a single question that requires critical thinking to answer. He does not have any learning disabilities. We had a nationwide math test yesterday which required filling in a scantron—bubble sheet. The student’s personal details were to be written in letters, one letter per box.
This is standard procedure and the sixth graders have been doing it several times per year since first grade. For the birthday, the scantron has space each for day, month, year with boxes to fill with the correct numbers. It’s very easy to figure out. This student came up to me and asked, “What do I put here?” while pointing to the boxes for the day.
I said, “You put your date of birth.” He replied, “I know, but what do I put in these boxes.” A bit confused, I said, “You write the day you were born.” He, then, said to me, “But I don’t know if I was born on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…” I made a puzzled face, paused and asked, “When is your birthday?” He told me his date of birth—let’s say 10th April, 2002.
So, I asked him, “And which part of your birthday shows the day?” He pondered the question while I waited rather impatiently. Finally, he said, “The 10th.” With a sigh of relief, I said, “Okay, so you put 10 here.” He still seemed confused and said, “But what do I put for the month? I can’t fit “April” into two boxes.”
The other teachers were stunned into silence with that one. I’m bringing him into tutoring with me and not just for English.
34. Not Quite Enough
This summer I was teaching a public speaking course. This is a 100-level course designed for non-majors. The first day I let the class out a little early, read 15 minutes, given, this is a three-hour-long, intensive three-week course. A student approached me after class and asked me, “Is this an easy class? I read online that it was easy.
“Are we gonna get out early every day? I have stuff to do.” Now, each professor is given pretty much free rein when they teach public speaking, even the doc students, such as myself. I told the student, “No, this is not an easy course. Also, no professor will ever tell you that his or her course is easy. It is a simple course.
“That is to say it is so in that, if you follow the syllabus and rubric that I have created, you will succeed, but you need to follow my instructions, come to class, and do everything outlined in your speech rubrics.” Now, I don’t believe in a formalized attendance policy, only because of two reasons. First, it’s college and it’s your or your parents’ money to blow.
And second, I make it very clear that I give extra credit and participation points during class just for coming to class, basically giving them free points, so it’s in your best interest to do so and can result in a ten percent drop in your grade if you chose not to come and not to participate. His next question made my blood boil: “Do I need to ever come to class?”
I explained the entire thing to him. He came every day, but he spent the entire time on his phone. After a whole day of this, while I was lecturing, I told him that he either had to put the phone away or he had to go outside because it was distracting to other students, and I have research to back that up. He apologized.
He then proceeded to ask me if I could just give him an A in the class since it’s so easy. He really needs it because his GPA is like .07 or something. Of course, I say no. He continued to talk to me every day after class, making sure he had an A and always asking for grade boosts. He did most of his work, but he did not follow my rubrics very closely on some projects.
I docked him for this, but I thought, at the time, he was pretty sincere about just trying to earn an A. At the end of the course, grades went in, he got an A-. Technically, he got a B+ but I gave him a little boost because he came and talked to me every day about how he could do better, which I appreciated, but at the same time I was irritated too.
The irritation was because then he would ignore the rubric and would play on his phone during lectures. A few days later, I get a scathing email from his mother asking why he didn’t get an A+. He got an A-, but that’s just not good enough for her son. I ended up telling her, you know, that I couldn’t discuss her adult son’s grades with her because it’s a FERPA violation.
I said she could talk to the head of the department but that he’d tell her the same thing. I ended up getting talked to by the department because of this. The kid had less than a 1.0 GPA and his A- is somehow a disservice?
35. A Song To Remember
I work as a foreign language English teacher, and a couple of years ago, I was supervising an exam. I suddenly hear this one boy hum a tune. It wasn’t loud enough to bother anyone, but since it was an exam, I told him to be quiet. Once the exam was over, I walked into the common area and overheard the most shocking conversation…
It was the boy bragging about stealing the exam from my drawer the day before. He claimed to have taken a picture of it and since the majority of the test was multiple answers, he made a song, where every word began with the letter of the answer. An amazing idea, but proof that you should know when to shut up. Let’s just say he had to retake the exam without humming.
I have also taken note of keeping the exam paper safe.
36. A Full Circuit
When I was at primary school, I was taunted quite severely. At first this was because of a stutter, but after speech therapy—which I took very much to heart—it was because I was “too posh”, because I pronounced words without dropping the T’s, etc. I was beaten up in the playground daily, never quite understood why other kids had a problem with me, and none of the teachers really seemed to care.
However, one teacher did. He noticed I would try and find any excuse to not go out into the playground at lunch or break, and kept to myself. I helped clean the hamster out at break, or volunteered to sort out the “library,” and then started running out of excuses. I’m not sure if it was empathy or just finding something to stop me nagging for extra tasks to do.
Whatever the reason, this teacher pulled out an old BBC microcomputer at the back of the class. It was caked in dust, had not been used in months, and he told me if I could figure out how to use it, I was welcome to see what it could do. We spent the first couple of breaks just getting it running and him showing me the basics, and from there, I was flying.
There was a box of disks with it—from games to educational programs; all fascinating. And then I discovered the “programming guide.” I was completely hooked from thereon out. Every break from then on, I would be allowed to stay and play with the machine. I wrote my first full program from scratch when I was just a seven-year-old.
It was a very basic text adventure game but I was enamored by it. Also, whenever the teacher had moments to spare, he would sit with me and talk through why things worked the way they did—what an IF statement was, how the PC knew which key was being pressed, etc. In retrospect, I know now why it was so important. It was control.
I had the choice of walking out the door and being beaten up and ignored for something I had no control over, or using this amazing machine and have it do anything I could dream. I could be a space trader in ELITE, or trek the Oregon Trail. For once, it was a realization that you can control things in life and make them how you want them to be.
I eventually moved to another school where I made wonderful friends but never lost that budding interest in technology. I’m now nearly 35. I graduated in Computer Science, studied AI and Cryptography, and now co-run a growing IT services company who works with the NHS. And it’s all thanks to an interest that was sparked by one teacher who cared.
And a teacher who spent the time to notice me. I will always, always remember him and be grateful for what may have just been a fun few moments in his daily grind. So, to every teacher out there—thank you. Even the little things you don’t think will be remembered, or those things you think are incidental or trivial, they can stick with your students and change their entire lives. And we will all remember you for it, whether we get the chance to say so or not.
37. An Evolving Situation
I wanted to share this nice story with everyone. I teach MS Science and I had some fifth graders in my room yesterday. We were beginning to talk about the metric system, which for them, in the US, is pretty unfamiliar. At one point, after going over the basic units, a student asked, “So, how many grams are in a kilogram?”
I responded and then another student, who is generally a bit of a trouble-maker, timidly raised his hand and said, “Wait, so then how many meters in a kilometer?” I got him to recognize that it was also 1,000, which was cool, but then he said, with a bit of wonder in his voice, “So I have to walk 10,000 meters to hatch an egg.”
Now, this student is not particularly strong in math, so even the fact that he correctly multiplied those “big” numbers was great. But then we used his comment as a springboard to calculate the number of meters it would take to hatch the eggs and to see how many eggs you’d have to hatch to get a certain number of candies to evolve different Pokémon.
It did not end there. He then calculated the number of meters to get that many candies. It was awesome and really got the kids into the lesson.
38. Bonus Round
I gave my very first test today to my ninth-grade physics class. They all did really well, and I’m super proud of them, but what stood out is the following. I always put a random, totally unrelated bonus question at the end of my assessments. The kids have been taking quizzes every week, so they know they’re coming, and look forward to them.
For them, it is a sweet way to score an extra point. They’re always multiple-choice, and the question on this test was, “What are the three branches of the US government?” The options were, “a) The Democratic Party, the Republican Party, and the Green Party,” “b) Legislative, Executive, Judicial,” “c) The Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Articles of Confederation,” and “d) The House of Representatives, the Presidency, and the Chamber of Secrets.”
Now, there is one kid in my class, let’s call him Dan. Dan is very anxious. He doesn’t have any kind of diagnosis, but his anxiety, particularly around assessments, usually manifests itself in him writing out his entire thought process on paper as he works through questions. It’s like he just writes every thought that comes into his head when working on a problem.
The math in his Physics problems is littered with little notes to himself, and “so”s and “then”s with arrows pointing from one step to the next so he can keep everything straight. It’s kind of great, but also a bit of a mess to read through on my part. Next to each of the answers for the bonus question, he’d jotted down just one word. They were, “a) parties,” “b) branches,” “c) documents,” and “d) nonsense.”
He got the question correct, obviously, and I drew a laughing face next to his “+1!” that didn’t nearly capture how hard I was actually laughing in real life after seeing that.
39. Hitting A Rock Wall
I’m an after-school rock climbing coach. I started the program at the gym I work at with kids, with ages ranging between six and 12. After it got very big, I separated it into an invite team—for the kids who are more serious and interested, and know what they are doing—and a casual team. Their age has no bearing on the teams, though all kids on the invite team were at one point on the casual team.
This season, I had a few younger kids on the casual team. These teams run at the same time, so two boys that were not technically on the invite team, I conditionally allowed to practice with us. They are both ten. One of the boys is extremely rude, does not do the workouts, and is distracting, so I put him back to work with the casual team.
He is not happy about it, but he complains all the time anyway, and he has also missed two out of five practices. Halfway through the season, he comes 45 minutes late to practice not on his assigned day—the casual kids usually practice one day a week, though there are two sessions a week, and the invite kids practice twice.
Then he immediately starts complaining about working with “babies.” The funny thing is this group that day is actually older, in general, than the one that is there on the day that he is supposed to come. After complaining to his mom, and forcing me out of my practice to try to explain to his mom why he is in this group, he finally goes along with the casual group.
And this happens with her following him around. At the end of practice, we talk about it, and I mention that he has a bad attitude towards the other kids and the workouts and that is why he is on the casual team. Well, surprise surprise, his mom’s a piece of work too. She’s convinced it has to do with ability, and I assure her if he can put 110% into practice every time he is there without goofing off, I’d be happy to move him.
However, I also clarify that won’t happen this season. That seems fine, and they leave. Next week, he comes back for his session—thankfully on time—but already starts in with complaining about how he’s “with babies” and “doesn’t learn anything.” I listen to him but also give him a firm reply at the end of his usual rant.
I reply that while he is having this conversation with me, and while he does not do the exercises in practice, he’s not giving his coaches a chance to teach him anything. Stamping his foot, he tells his mom this is “not what they signed up for” and I remind them, “Yes, actually it is.” They are upset because the other boy has remained practicing with the invite team.
The said boy has been progressing a lot without the distraction of this boy. But the mother-daughter duo ignores this and insist it is not what they signed up for. This continues—during practice, by the way—for a half-hour, while they continue to not spout anything new, and I tell them he really won’t learn anything if he doesn’t go to practice.
I also point out specific examples from previous practices where he has been uncooperative, to which his mom tells me I’m “harping on one thing.” Finally, she lets out a big sigh and says, “You know, we’re paying you to deal with this, so you can work it out with my child.” At this point it’s laughable, they don’t pay me at all; it is the gym that pays me.
And I am certainly not negotiating with her 10-year-old child. Instead, I tell them the other is an invitational team, and that her child is not invited. They can either accept that, or not, but that is how it is. Unfortunately, as much as I don’t care for them returning, I was still nicer than that about it. The season isn’t over yet, but I can only hope I can have a big blowout with her, she makes me so angry.
40. A Nerve Grating Experience
Today I substitute-taught for a class that was going to take a test. As I gave announcements and told students to get their tables ready to take said test, another teacher walked in to get supplies. I assumed he knew what he was doing and ignored him. One student got up to sharpen a pencil in what must be the world’s top soprano pencil sharpener.
The sharpener made the shrillest grinding whine I’d heard in a long time. The other teacher, irritated with the noise, told him to stop. Since his pencil wasn’t sharp yet, the student objected. He was reasonably agitated, but not upset or rude. The next thing I know, the teacher has taken my student to the office, leaving me with the rest of the class.
The other students were shocked at this teacher’s behavior and urged me to go get the student, but I didn’t feel right leaving the whole class waiting while I went to get the other kid, so I administered the test and waited until the principal walked by. Turns out the other teacher told the principal the boy had yelled at him.
As soon as I said otherwise, he was sent back to take his test, with the same amount of time as the other students so he had to use up some of his lunch time. I felt horrible that he hadn’t done anything wrong and got punished for it. In the lounge later, the same teacher complained about this kid to all the other teachers.
Everyone else was just nodding in agreement and lectured me on the importance of having kids respect teachers. All I could think was how can the kids respect teachers if you can’t respect other teachers in their own classrooms? I don’t have a problem with him disciplining a kid that’s out of line, but if you’re in my classroom, please defer to my judgment!
I was the one giving him instructions and administering his test. Surely I can decide when he’s out of line and send him to the office myself?
41. No Secrets
Today, I opened up a previously hidden and secure Wi-Fi network I set up in my school for a couple of hours. The students freaked out that they had Wi-Fi at the school and proceeded to connect all of their devices so they could text, Snapchat, etc. I warned them that they shouldn’t just join unknown networks, especially those without any passwords.
I shut the network down after telling them how easy it would have been to see all of their texts and photos, and now my students are fully convinced that I’ve been hacking their phones all day. Maybe they’ll stop texting in class now. For the record, I didn’t do anything except tell them how easy it was to do. Just a quick demonstration, on their demand, where I connected to a phone was enough to stop them. Hopefully.
42. A Clean Act
I was subbing a second-grade class and was walking them back to the classroom after playground time. We were walking up the steps to the main part of the school and I was walking next to two little girls who were discussing something they saw on the playground. Evidently, someone had written a naughty word somewhere on the playground equipment.
And they were discussing whether or not it was a naughty word. I was walking along, listening, hoping against hope that they would drop the subject before another student overheard because I didn’t want to draw the other students’ attention and have them all searching the playground during the next break for the word in question.
They could not decide if it is a naughty word or not, so one said, “Let’s ask Mrs. Cisco.” The other girl replied, “No, she won’t know!” I was walking along thinking, “Well, they must think I’m dumb”, when the second girl continued, “Mrs. Cisco won’t know, teachers don’t use those kinds of words.” That was the end of the conversation, but I laughed to myself the rest of the day.
43. Presently Absent
I teach in an Australian high school from grades seven through to grade 12. So, the students range from about ages 12/13 through to 17/18). I have a morning roll class that I’ve had since they were in grade eight. Our students need to come to roll class before 9:00 am or they are marked as late and need to sign in at the office.
However, one day a week we have an assembly. Students who are late to school and sign in at the office then go to assembly and stand outside until the current speaker is finished, and then they may enter to go to their class group. Over the last few years, I’ve had a few students who when they are late on a Monday, end up signing in anywhere from 9:05 through to 9:20.
They, however, don’t turn up to assembly. Instead, I see them when we get back to our classroom to start our life education—covering post high school careers, safe use of technology, budgeting, relationships, etc.—commonly from 9:30 onwards. Now, they say that they were standing at the door to the hall, but no one let them in.
However, I know for a fact that a teacher is at that door to let students in late—we see them trickle through—this has always rung false to me, and so they get detention. But now I know why. They don’t knock. They turn up at the door and stand there quietly staring at it until it opens. If the teacher inside doesn’t check, these kids will stand there until people leave the assembly and then go to class.
Remember that it is currently winter, with single digits Celsius in the morning so the door is closed. Thus, this happens frequently and, therefore, so many detentions are because they just didn’t knock. Pretty sure I sat there for five minutes with my head in my hands this week when this finally came to light and I, at last, understood why this was happening.
Oh, and they also told me that they didn’t knock because they felt it was embarrassing to enter late and would rather take the detention.
44. A Tricky One
In a class, I used Pokémon to raise a question and make the students think. So, I asked a student, “You tell Bulbasaur to use the Razor Leaf attack. Bulbasaur’s Razor Leaf attack hits the opponent 95% of the time. If Bulbasaur uses this attack 40 times, how many times would you expect it to miss its opponent?” The student responded in detail.
They said, “It’s a trick question. Bulbasaur’s razor leaf only has 25 base PP. So, it’s impossible for Bulbasaur to use Razor leaf 40 times, unless under the influence of PP max or PP up, but substances are bad. So, the actual answer is, Two times, 38 hits. Another question. What are you, fighting a Shuckle?”
45. A Sharp Retort
As a student teacher, I work two days a week in a Year Seven class. I’ve got a good relationship with my mentor teacher, the staff is fantastic, and the students are great. Except for two. They’re twins, and they’re attention-seekers, especially in the lessons that I take. They will stick their hands up and ask really silly questions.
Then when I call on them, they will say, “Oh, nothing,” and put their hands down again. They are posers, and they think they are all that and more. I’ve dubbed them Tweedledum and Tweedledee in my mind, but for the sake of the story, I’ll call them B1 and B2. It’s a Math lesson, and B1 and B2 are doing their usual stunts, to no one’s surprise.
This is even though the mentor teacher had read the whole class the riot act in the previous lesson for their behavior. I’m teaching the lesson, and I see the principal outside the classroom on his phone. He’s been in once or twice and observed me teach, and I figure he’s going to do it again. I’m a little nervous about the prospect.
But he’s a nice guy, and it’s not really too big a deal. As I’m teaching, the principal walks in and stands just inside the doorway. By coincidence, or possibly not, he’s standing just behind where B2 is sitting. We continue the lesson, and most of the class are working quietly because they are well aware that the principal is in the room.
But not B2. He either hadn’t seen him walk in, or has a very short memory. As I’m explaining something, B2 calls out in a foghorn voice, “Sir, my pencil is broken!” Straight up, before I could say anything, the principal barks out, “Well, whose problem is that? You’re in Year Seven! Think for yourself and sharpen it!” He’s literally standing about half a meter (two feet) behind B2 when he says this.
B2 got the fright of his life. I have never seen anyone jump so high! He even went a bit white. I didn’t hear a word out of him for the rest of the day. Somehow, I managed to keep a straight face and continue with the lesson, but I have a bit of a giggle now every time I think of it.
46. A Tale For The Ages
This happened the second week of this school year. I’m in 11th grade, and I was recommended last school year to take an AP Environmental Science class. I decided why not, let’s do the obligatory thing of all high school juniors and take an AP class. Fast forward to the second week of school, and we get our first real assignment.
We have to read The Lorax and write a little summary about it because the whole thing about the “evil loggers” relates somewhat to environmental science. Most students think this is kind of funny, having to read a children’s book when we’re AP students. But no, Mr. B doesn’t have us read the book, and this is where the storytime comes in.
He read it to us. I’m not talking in a formal way, fitting to 16-year-olds, oh no. He sits us all down in a semicircle and reads to us like we’re back in kindergarten. Complete with terrible microwave popcorn and showing us the pictures before he turns the page. Did I mention this was in a public “study area,” so people saw this?
In the end, we all found it endearing, and I look forward to the next time I get to make everyone else within about 15 meters (50 feet) of the study area jealous via the smell of fake butter.
47. A Gourmet Experience
In my pleasantly morbid toddler class today, I was schooled on how to properly prepare a nice, elegant meal for friends and family. One of my children—who, for this story, will be called Master Chef—decided it was definitely time for a tea party. So, we all gathered around the little table, set nicely with clashing colors of cups and plates.
He had set out spoons, and even a little pitcher with some fake flowers on the center of the table. I was obviously thoroughly impressed already. This was phenomenal, romantic, and everyone was eager to eat whatever plastic entree he was about to present to us. Finally, Master Chef turned from the play kitchen, and yelled, “It’s prepared.” My jaw literally DROPPED.
He then began to pull out dismembered baby dolls from the microwave. Master Chef had taken seven baby dolls, dismembered them, and then shoved them into the microwave. Now, this was creepy and hilarious enough, as is. But I made the grave mistake of asking, “Oh, Master Chef, where are the heads?” as they were not present in our current display of food.
He replied with, “Freezing, we don’t want the brains to squish in our teeth.” He then opened the doors to the play fridge, and on display were eight decapitated doll heads lined up meticulously. No further questions were asked. The food was delicious. We all enjoyed the main meal and loved our frozen dessert. We have yet to locate the eighth body. I’m not sure I want to.
48. A Dire Situation
My student—who missed a few days of class and her last exam—comes to me with an important confession: She’s homeless. Instantly my heart bleeds for her. I say, “You poor thing! Are you ok? No wonder you’ve missed class and are having a hard time concentrating. The fact that you’re here now is so commendable.” She nods and then proceeds to complete what she was saying.
She first says, “Yeah.” Then she looks down, clearly distraught, “It has been really hard lately. I can’t talk to my friends or family. It has been hard concentrating in class.” She says she just wanted me to understand what she’s been going through. I ask her where she sleeps at night? Is there a place that she can go while she’s getting back on her feet? That’s when she gives me a bewildered look.
Apparently, I got it all wrong because she replies, “I’m not homeless. I’m phoneless.”
49. Playing Possum
I’m a substitute teacher and this just happened today. I was working in a second-grade class and after lunch I had a student try to go to sleep. I told him that he needed to wake up as we had work to do. At first, he refused and I thought that he might not be feeling well. I asked if he needed to see the nurse and he said that he did not.
He then moved to the floor where he proceeded to “fall asleep” for the next hour. After trying everything to get him up, I called the office. A nurse came to look at him and determined it was a behavior issue. The principal came and together they removed the student who went totally limp and they had to carry him out of the class.
I thought that this was the end of the issue, but five minutes later I got called out into the hall. The student was still “sleeping” and the principal had the authorities on the phone. I explained the situation to her and my belief that this was a work avoidance issue. However, the principal had to do her job, which I understood and backed up. I’ll never forget what happened next.
Paramedics came and tried to revive this kid. They finally said they needed to give him a shot and draw some blood and what do you know, the second he heard that he was wide awake and crying. I kid you not. This kid played possum for almost two hours and let it go far enough for the principal to call the authorities for help. I just don’t know anymore. Where do seven-year-olds even learn this stuff?
50. Hitting The Roof
My favorite teacher—who could pass for a very tall 16-year-old—was known for sitting at the desks on the first day of school and pretending to be a student. He was also known for letting everyone play Guitar Hero on Fridays. He was awesome. On with the story. It was the beginning of class and the teacher was going around collecting homework.
Everything was normal until he collects it from one student and his face morphs into pure rage. He angrily said, “What? No name?” before drop kicking the paper. His shoe comes off and goes flying up towards the ceiling where it breaks one of the lights. He then runs out into the hallway and screams, “We need security in here! These kids are breaking lights!”
As far as I know, he never got in trouble for it.