“Parenting is not giving your child everything they want. Parenting is not being your child’s friend. Parenting is about preparing your child to be a useful and respectful person in society.”—GloZell
Teaching is a difficult profession that is vastly underrated for its importance in society. Besides dealing with a classroom full of other people that they must care for, teachers also have to deal with the parents of those people. While many parents can be good and kind, some make the lives of teachers even tougher than it already is, which leads to a lot of problems. Here are some of the worst stories about terrible parents, as told by the teachers of Reddit.
37. Audition Games
Held auditions for a singing role that various students were interested in. Held it at lunch when no club events were scheduled, and the note that students could email me if they’d prefer another time. No emails, no shows. We needed someone to fill the role, so I just gave it to a great student of mine. Good natural talent, and reliable. She was sick all week leading up to auditions and proved it with a doctor’s note.
I still had her “audition” upon return, but she was the only person who auditioned, so she got the role. Had three parents email me about why special snowflake wasn’t considered. They all got the same response. If you want a role, audition for it. Two of them were actually okay with that. Their kids made it out like I had ignored all other auditions to give the advantage to this sick girl.
But the third was terrible.
Kept hounding me about how it’s unfair her brat didn’t have the opportunity to audition (not true), how her child was a better singer than the one I had chosen (admittedly true, but she couldn’t show up to mandatory classes on time, I’m not trusting her with rehearsals), and the usual bad teacher crap. She booed this poor girl on performance day as well, the cow.
36. My Child Is An Angel
I used to teach this little boy who was so disruptive—he would shout and pinch the other children in the class—and when I complained to his parents they said that he was a little angel at home and were shocked that I was saying that their boy was disruptive. They even said they thought I had the wrong child’s parents in!
35. Nasty Mothers
I’m not a teacher, but when I was in elementary school I was a rather fat and unpopular kid. On one occasion I had a mother on a field trip look me up and down and turn to a group of kids who often made fun of me and tell them something that made them laugh. On a second occasion, I had a mother prevent me from going to a classmates’ birthday party that most of my 4th-grade class went to only to find out later that she made fun of me as being a pig at the party from other classmates.
I mean I get that I was the fat unpopular kid, but shouldn’t those mothers have been acting their age? They were in their thirties and forties.
34. Failing The Cousin of The Cousin of The Cousin Of The Prince
I was working in Saudi Arabia about eight years ago and I had one kid who was the cousin of someone who was the cousin’s cousin of the Prince of Saudi Arabia. He came the first day and signed up for the class and I never saw him again, in fact, I actually removed him from the attendance. At the end of the course, he showed up to collect his diploma. I told him he wasn’t getting one because he didn’t attend a single class.
He stormed out of the class calling me names the entire way. A few hours later this guy shows up with half of Saudi Arabia, His mother, father, uncles, aunts, brothers, the whole damn family. I was called into the office by the dean and spent the next 30 minutes being screamed at by my boss, half the staff, and his belligerent family. Didn’t I know who he was? How DARE I not give him what he asked for!! I was docked a month’s pay and I ended up quitting two months later.
Oh, and he graduated the class. With honors of course.
33. Teaching Jesus
I had a parent of a kindergartner tell me, in all seriousness, that she was told by their church prophet that my student was sent to lead the world into salvation. Her little girl was the second coming of Christ. Gee, no pressure. “Here, teach the Christ-child to read.” Plus, she was one of the meanest children I ever taught.
32. Higher Order
I had a parent that believed her child was of a higher order (Indigo Child) and that he was actually going to be the governor of all Indigo Children or something like back when I first started subbing. The school would get a firestorm from the mother if they disciplined him because “higher order beings don’t need discipline, they know more than you.”
The school psychologist had diagnosed this boy with low functioning autism—he was nine and still in diapers, still used baby talk, and threw fits all the time. The mother would not have him in the autistic classroom for lower grade elementary students and wanted him in a regular classroom. I felt so much pity for the other children who were at normal developments who had to be in the classroom with him.
I understand Least Restrictive Environment, but this was too much.
31. Scared To Discipline
My wife is the principal of an expensive Chinese daycare. Like, really expensive. Every parent drives a BMW or better. A three-year-old once ran away from the group during a field trip. The teacher, an incredibly mild woman, caught the kid and asked him if he thought what he did was good or bad. She didn’t hit him, she didn’t even criticize him or make him go in time out—she just asked him if he thought it was a good thing to do.
The mother freaked out. Not because her child nearly went missing—she was furious that any type of discipline whatsoever was administered. My wife was on the phone with her until 2:00 AM while this woman screamed, “She has no right to tell my child what to do! Who does she think she is?!” Fortunately, the woman became angry enough that she pulled her kid out a few days later.
But that teacher is now so terrified to discipline her students that her class is out of control.
30. Neglecting The Eyes
I was teaching a sweet 13-year-old girl, who obviously couldn’t see the board very well and needed glasses as she was falling behind in class. I called her mother (this is in south London so imagine a Jade Goody voice) her mum told me to screw off and that “I didn’t need darn glasses, my mother didn’t need darn glasses so she doesn’t need any darn glasses” and hung up.
In that situation, you just feel for the girl.
29. Evolutionary Problems
My favorite one was the lady who wrote a letter to all four principals, the Superintendent, and every member of the School Board, threatening to sue the board if I wasn’t fired, because I referenced evolution (along with gravity and a few others) in a conversation with my class about the difference between a “theory” and a “scientific theory.” Mind you, we didn’t get into anything about evolution, it was a basic freshman intro to physical science class, but that I even mentioned it was enough.
The meeting was spectacular. She yelled at me and the principals for a few minutes, then went into her rant about why evolution was apparently wrong, referencing entropy and the laws of thermodynamics. At some point, I stopped her and asked her if she understands that those laws only apply to closed systems, which the Earth is not, and she told me I was wrong, it was a closed system. I think I said something about “that giant ball of fire in the sky” before my administrators excused me.
28. Not A Joke
As a music teacher, I had a mother of a student who would crash choir rehearsal for our Christmas concert and try to “demonstrate” how she had learned to sing “O Holy Night,” when she had been a student.
Not only was her pitch three cents short of a dollar, but it took the principal and custodian to escort her out of the rehearsal room. For their part, the students thought it was a “planned comedy.” It, however, was not!
27. Bullying A Child
My roommate is a preschool teacher. She has a student in her class who is very, very rambunctious, and she has a pretty good line of communication with the boy’s mother, as she is not in denial about her son’s behavioral issues. She also has a girl in her class who is spoiled rotten, used to getting everything she wants immediately.
One afternoon, my roommate was waiting on parents to pick up the kids, and she was chatting with the mother of Rambunctious Boy. All of the sudden, the mother of Spoiled Girl bursts into the room. She starts yelling… at Rambunctious Boy. Apparently, he had pushed Spoiled Girl on the playground the day before. Spoiled Girl didn’t tell my roommate or the other teacher, just her mom, and she also told her mom that Rambunctious Boy didn’t get punished (since she didn’t say anything to the teachers).
Mom decides to take this out not on the teachers, but on this four-year-old boy. She screams at him not to touch her daughter and that there would be consequences and blah blah. Obviously, Rambunctious Boy starts crying, my roommate and the other mother are just in shock, and Spoiled Girl and her mom turn and leave in a huff.
Congratulations, lady. You just bullied a four-year-old into crying. I really hope you feel good about yourself.
26. Ham Lessons
My wife was one in a poor area near Chicago. I’ve heard a hundred horror stories, but the one I always think about is this one.
My wife’s school was having a really hard time involving their parents in their kids’ homework. The kids on average have poor test scores, poor intelligence, low motivation, etc…common problems today. So what they tried to do was, start an after-school program where parents would come in and help their kids with their homework. Kinda defeats the purpose of “home” work, but whatever. None of the parents showed up. Not surprising I suppose.
Here’s where it gets interesting… so they decided they were going to raffle off a ham at each after school homework event. Amazingly, parents started showing up. I would have to drive with my wife every once in a while to Walmart to buy a ham, because the parents showed up for a 1 in 500 chance to win a ham. They wouldn’t come in for their kids, but they’d come in for a chance at ham.
Blows my mind to this day.
25. Excuses For The Stealing
I just got back from an internship at a German “Gymnasium” (high school directed towards kids who would normally go to college after). This school was also a boarding school and one of the kids is a complete jerk waffle. He steals and drinks and bullies everyone else then plays dumb as if he didn’t know what was up. His mother is probably the biggest problem parent I had to deal with at the school, but I was an intern so the real teachers had to deal with way worse I believe.
His mother ignores everything bad we told her about her kid. He is a saint who can do no wrong to her, and he’s too fragile to ride the train home so every other week and on holidays she drives across Germany to pick him up. He got caught stealing from three other kids that lived next door to him, but his mom always gives some excuse like “Oh, he’s under so much pressure, you all just blame him for everything!” Meanwhile, he is growing up to have no future because he refuses to participate in school and can’t stop acting out.
There is probably a problem here that needs treatment but I am a college student and those teachers are way overworked as it is.
24. Terrible Grandmothering
Chris’ grandmother (who became his legal guardian not too long before this story) takes the cake for me.
Background—I taught at an alternative high school for students who were not successful in the traditional high school setting (Kids with drug problems mostly, but there were a few outliers to that, Chris being one).
Although he was fairly high functioning for his placement, Chris was classified special education, and was legally allowed to sit in on his PPT (Planning and Placement Team) meetings to discuss his IEP (Individualized Education Plan).
It was at the PPT meeting in April to discuss the upcoming school year that my heart broke for this kid so badly. We were discussing Chris’ progress in the current school year and I was being very optimistic about Chris’ upcoming school year as I felt that he made tremendous progress and could continue to do well if the proper support was in place.
I made the suggestion that grandma help to facilitate a positive learning environment at home in order to provide Chris with the best chance to succeed and her exact response was “I’m not changing anything at home, the kid is stupid and he’s going to keep being stupid no matter what I do for him at home.”
He was sitting right next to her and I could see all the joy leaving his face like a balloon slowly being deflated. I never wanted to adopt a child so badly in my life as I did Chris, to get him out of yet another toxic home situation.
23. Issues With Grades
Any parent of a college-aged student that thinks they still need or can do anything about their child’s grade. I’ve had at least one student all four terms I taught freshman biology labs call my admin about why there is someone with a BS in Physics teaching their precious child Biology, what does he know about grading lab reports, and they need to change their precious child’s grade on the last report that was supposed to be ten pages with graphs they their innocent perfect child turned in only one page with no graph from an ‘F’ to the more fair ‘A’ grade.
22. Athlete Parents
Was an athletic coach at the university level and this is even more of an issue; athletes’ parents are the worst. I had one mother email me daily about why I should put her child in the game, giving me stats, etc. like I didn’t have access to the same information or that I wasn’t watching practices. At this point in your child’s life, you have to cut the cord; your child is being paid (athletic scholarship) to play here, therefore, it is their job—would you email your child’s boss with reasons to give them a raise? Parents can be crazy.
21. Passing Down Prejudice
I’m not a classroom teacher, but I do work with kids doing behavioral therapy and teaching social skills. I did it in-home for four years and when I moved in June I started working at a clinic that more closely mimics a school. Both settings are beneficial for the kids, but lemme tell you about crazy parents.
The worst was the hyper-religious family that home-schooled all five of their kids. The youngest was 12 years younger than the second-youngest because the parents decided in their mid-forties that they wanted another kid. The odds of a special-needs child at that age are pretty damn high compared to 35 and younger, but they insisted that they wanted whatever “God had in store for them” and now play martyr about everything related to their daughter. Oh, and they hate black people. Like, dad ranted about how “damn stupid” black people are, and their living room is filled with professionally framed Confederate Army paintings.
20. Offending Disabilities
I work with a student with an intellectual disability in journalism class. One day, the student interviews a really important political figure that’s closely tied with activism for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The student finishes writing the article and there’s only one issue, she needs to email her article to the editors and cannot seem to log into her email account because she forgot her password. So, I volunteer to email it for to the student editors. No harm, no foul.
Then, the next day I receive an email from her mother saying that the terminology the student used (she was quoting the politician) were my words and that I do not use person-first language (a huge no-no in education). She told me my language was offensive, unprofessional, and a sign that I clearly do not understand the complexities of addressing people with intellectual disorders. What offensive thing did the politician say? He said “students with special needs” instead of saying “students with intellectual disorders.”
Honestly, it’s not like he dropped the r-bomb, but based on the parent’s reaction the student might as well have written that in the article. The parent CC’d all of the student editors and attached a bunch of Huffington Post articles on the topic. It was insane. The students kept approaching me, asking how they should handle the article. I just told them to ignore it and I’ll deal with it.
The entire ordeal was horrible and I was just trying to be a nice person by being the email liaison between the student and the editors. I’ve never received an apology and the parent refuses to acknowledge me whenever I wave at her when she’s visiting.
19. Pajama Parenting
The mom who brings her kids to the clinic in their pajamas and is in pajamas 50% of the time herself. She asks for parenting advice and then interrupts me every time to tell me why that won’t work for her son. “He’ll cry.” She insists that she can’t keep him out of locked closets, can’t keep him off of the kitchen counters, can’t keep him from climbing baby gates. It’s called not leaving your kid alone until you’ve taught him what is and isn’t allowed. He’s three, but developmentally probably 18 months.
She lets him have Kit Kats for breakfast and leave the house barefoot because she “doesn’t want that battle” today. Then she’s always late for pick up and talks at me about herself forever no matter how many times I say goodbye, but she talks at me through her son by referring to herself in third person: “It’s time to get in the car because Mommy has to go to Walmart to pick up our medicine. Our medicine has gone up twelve bucks since last time! And we have to get the lotion for you, that stuff better work since it costs $10 for a bottle. Mommy really hopes you don’t start kicking me like last time.” And it just goes on forever, taking up my lunch break every single time. I can’t walk away because my boss would frown upon that.
18. Too Sad To Write About
Local crime kingpin (unconvicted). Knew exactly how much he was legally allowed to mentally and physically abuse his daughter (I got nowhere with Social Services). Probably murdered her mother (never indicted—no witnesses).
Sorry for the terseness but I hate thinking about it.
17. Jihad Mistake
Not the worst but definitely up there with the stupidest. Currently dealing with a parent who thought I that I taught their kid about Jihad. We had Holidays Around the World before our Winter Break. Each teacher took a holiday and explained it through activities, videos, music, food etc. I chose Diwali and decorated my room in lights, had a fun writing/coloring activity and a child-friendly video about the holiday.
The student then goes home and tells the parent that I was teaching about killing and about a religion that started with a J. The parents questioned their child to the point of him crying. I asked him about it and he said that they wouldn’t let him leave it alone and he ended up crying for a while about it. The parent said they knew it wasn’t the Jewish religion so then it had to be Jihad. What!?! Jihad?!?! That’s a religion?!?! And if it was a religion why would I be teaching that to my elementary classroom? Seriously, facepalm.
The best is that the parent CC’d my boss on the email without talking to me at all about it. My boss usually faults on the side of his teachers so I’m not worried about that but I just couldn’t believe a well-educated adult thought that Jihad was a religion. And she asked her husband and he agreed it had to be Jihad as well! If that is the mindset going in that child’s home they have a lot to overcome.
16. Confusing Cultures
We were going through the epic poem “Beowulf” and I was splicing in lessons about Anglo Saxon culture, language, religion, etc. and how it still is represented in our world today. (Thor’s Day/Thursday, Woden’s Day/Wednesday, etc.).
A parent called the school claiming I was teaching her son about Nazi culture and how Nazi culture is a part of our culture today and should be celebrated. It took several meetings to convince the woman that Anglo Saxon and Aryan are two different things… several… meetings.
15. Forgetting About The Missing Homework
A parent created an extremely extensive treatise on how the traditional methods of grading should be scrapped. They ended up emailing it to every staff member in the school. They did not, however, ever address the fact that their child did not turn in a single homework assignment between December and June.
14. Neglecting A Child’s Health
I have a set of parents that have gradually confessed to me (over time) that they choose not to have insurance (dad owns a popular strip club and mom is a bikini-girl-sitting-on-the-Ferrari model) and only take their one-year-old to the pediatrician when he’s “at 105 temperature and really really sick.” They continually ask me for medical advice and I continually refer them to their doctor.
I say, look, if your son has had a cough for months, and you’re really worried, take him in. He seems relatively healthy to me, but I understand your concern and I can’t exactly diagnose your kid. It could be something harmless; it could not. But they basically don’t listen and, within a week, are back pulling me aside asking about the cough. They care about his health and welfare, which I’m not knocking on, but I’m not a doctor!
They have recently informed me that he hasn’t been seen by a doctor since he was nine-months-old; this means he hasn’t gone in almost a year. I asked if his vaccines are up to date; they are not—mom and dad were “traveling in Europe” and couldn’t be bothered. I have informed management several times of the situation, explaining that they try to treat me like a doctor and that this child could be at risk in a daycare environment—that’s why our policy firmly states that all children MUST be vaccinated. Turns out they got a “religious exemption” form. Yeah, OK. Sure.
13. Name Brand Mess
In terms of ANNOYING, we have a mom who is self-admittedly OCD. She goes completely nuts over anything being “dirty.” This extends to our rooms and her child. If we have lots of toys on the floor (in a room full of toddlers, that is 99.99% of the time yes), she freaks out and starts complaining. We have to strip her child every single meal because he’s a messy eater and mom is in such deep denial about that fact that she goes nuclear if he has even a crumb on his clothes. She brings in her kid in name-brand designer clothing and goes ballistic if they get dirty at all. Some days, he walks around naked more often than not.
Yesterday we painted and she went nuclear over that fact. She told me, well yeah, the paint washes out well (she asked which one I used and I told her the one I used last week; I only use the paint that washes out well), but still, ew! Eugh! Omg! She tells me all the time that her son is happy here and that she can never get him to do art at home—that I “come up with these great project ideas that [she] could never think of!”—but that’s because she does art that explicitly isn’t messy. Crayons and colored pencils, neatly contained in the little box. I let her son get into the paint with sponges, brushes, and hands. I clean him up well afterwards—she’s never complained about that—but sometimes it gets on clothes, smock or no smock. Still, she complains and whines on a regular basis.
I don’t know what you want me to do—do you want me to put your kid aside and not allow him to have fun? If he sits over there and says NO, NO, NO when I ask him to come paint, then by all means, I won’t make him—there are a couple kids in my class that refuse to paint. But he’s engaged, he’s learning, and he’s having fun. That’s what you pay me to do with your child. I’m not a babysitter; I’m a teacher. Yes, I do diapers, serve meals, and wipe up puke, but beyond that, I’m trying to encourage learning and creative play. At this age, that often becomes messy. Sorry.
12. Seat Belts Save Lives
Not a teacher. But I had a friend who is a preschool teacher. She had a kid that told her she hated seat belts and won’t wear it on the bus. Friend spoke to mother about it. The mother said she screams and refuses to wear it in the car, so she just gave up. The mother was speeding to get to the hospital on a rainy day, kid in the back seat jumping around. She hit water and skidded into a tree and the child was ejected. Died on impact.
To clarify: Found the article after the crash. Did not hit a tree but flipped the car. Child still ejected and died of severe impact to the head. The article does not say she wasn’t wearing a seat belt, but it is known that she was not. Mother was not charged.
11. Spoiled Brat
Currently doing illegal private tutoring in Korea as an ESL teacher. The “worst” parents I’ve dealt with so far are the family that I currently work with. While the mother and father are easily two of the sweetest and nicest people I’ve met, they’re extremely wealthy, and tend to spoil the crap out of their two elementary kids.
They have a little five-year-old boy that is the most spoiled kid in the universe. This kid throws tantrums every day during lessons, hits and screams at his parents and grandparents, cries over everything, and eats a ton of food everyday. And his parents just smile and laugh over all of it. They’ve never disciplined him, they’ve never told him no. This kid gets a new toy every week, on demand. This little kid can’t stand doing anything he doesn’t want or he’ll run to his parents crying.
10. Remembering Coach
Ah, this reminds me of good ol’ Coach Takeno…
Coach Takeno was the high school football coach as well as the Driver’s Ed instructor (which is how I knew him).
Coach Takeno would “take-no” (Geddit? Cuz… His last name…?) crap. From anybody. A lot of the students were afraid of him and didn’t like him, but I loved the guy. He was angry and blunt, but very matter of fact and completely fair. He was also a realist and once even chuckled along with us as some in the class opened up about our drinking stories—he wasn’t an idiot, he knew some of us were going to be drinking and partying and stuff. Afterward, he told us some stories about some drunk kids that didn’t have funny endings, and just really implored us to be safe and not ever drive or get into cars with drunk friends trying to. Totally cool dude.
Anyway, why I’m reminded of him is because he was always making some kid cry with his angry brow beatings and as a result was always having parents get pissy with him. He would get really mad and yell, but I never once heard him dish out anything unfair or inappropriately personal. I think I heard him curse once, but he wasn’t chewing anyone out. The worst I’d hear him say was “damn.” He got on my case a couple times and it was totally understandable.
One time I was in class when one of these parents called him directly in his office, which was already enough to get him furious. I knew something was gonna happen. From what I could tell, the parent was all upset about their kid getting yelled at, because Coach yelled into the phone, “YEAH I YELLED AT HIM! MAYBE IF YOU HAD YELLED AT HIM INSTEAD, HE WOULDN’T BE FAILING HIS CLASSES!”
Rest in peace, Coach. You even died like a workaholic champ at your desk.
9. Irresponsible Faculty Meeting
One of my favorite moments:
I walk into the school office to check my mailbox. A parent of one of my students sees me and says very loudly, almost screaming, “Oh, FINALLY!!!! LOOK, EVERYONE, I FOUND A TEACHER!!! Do you realize that I left work EARLY to come here after school to talk to my son’s teachers about his report card, and you are LITERALLY the ONLY teacher I have found?!!! I went from classroom to classroom and everyone is GONE!!! Do you know what time it is?!! It’s 3:45 pm! School ended FIFTEEN MINUTES AGO!!! FIFTEEN MINUTES!!!! And you’re the ONLY teacher STILL HERE!!!! CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO ME WHY EVERYONE IS GONE?! CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO ME WHY EVERY TEACHER HAS LEFT THE BUILDING WHEN SCHOOL JUST GOT OUT?!!!!”
I paused, waiting to see if there was more. When I realized he had finished, I said, “All the teachers are in the library. We’re having a faculty meeting.”
The look on his face was priceless. He knew he was in the wrong, but by that point, he had committed so fiercely to his anger and righteousness that he couldn’t just apologize. So he said, “Well that’s just irresponsible.” And he walked out of the office.
8. Pulling A Gun
My father once had a parent pull a gun on him during a parent-teacher conference. Eventually, they got him to calm down and put it away.
7. After School Troubles
My wife is a teacher and had a kid who kept asking to stay after school. This puts my wife home late but she cares about her job so she kept doing it and tutoring him. Except that she noticed this kid doesn’t really need any help. He did all his homework, did just fine on the tests, and she thought maybe he just had a confidence problem.
So she asks him one day and he said his mom tells him he needs to go. So she tried to boost the kid a bit by saying “You don’t have to come tomorrow. Tell your mom that I said you are doing just fine and should enjoy your off-hours from school. It’s just as important.” Something like that. Then my wife gets called down to the office the next day to discuss this insanely long fire email from the mom to the principal, who said that my wife is actively denying her son a fair chance at learning or some crap.
Well anyway, dig it down and sum it up: Statements back and forth, then the mom starts a fire with another one of his teachers with the same “issue” and the whole cycle began again. They eventually got her to admit that she was trying to keep her son at school because she was physically locking him out of the house until she got home from work.
6. No Mars For My Kid
Jay’s mom. This story is a colleague’s.
The science teacher said, “for this unit, I’ll be taking you all to Mars!”
Jay’s mom comes in—in-person—yelling about how ain’t her kid goin’ to no Mars. She ain’t give permission for dat.
5. Obsessed With Progress
I’ve been pretty lucky—most of my parents have been cool, supportive, and laid back. I did, however, have one mom who stalked me heavily online, not because she liked me, but because she wanted to constantly talk about her daughter’s (supposed lack of) progress.
She sent me friend requests repeatedly, showed up at the school once while I was teaching to ask me why I didn’t accept her request. She somehow got my personal email and began emailing my personal email rather than my work email. She also told her daughter to follow me home one day so she could “stop by” sometime (thankfully the daughter told me about this in advance and she didn’t do it).
It finally ended when the daughter was pulled from the school only after a lawsuit was filed declaring negligence on our part for “meeting the student’s needs” (the daughter was a straight B student who didn’t really act out too much and seemed to enjoy school).
4. Keith Gets It Together Despite the Mom
Keith’s mom. Keith was a 10th grader and I was new to teaching. He was such a pain in the neck. Didn’t do any work. Mouthed off. Got other students distracted. I ended up calling his mom about half a dozen times, asking her to come in and meet with me to talk about the situation. She never returned my calls.
And then one day, out of the blue, she showed up to talk to me. She didn’t look happy to be there but hey, at least she came, right? I thanked her for being there and began to talk about how Keith was doing. She looked around the room while I spoke, and her body language made it very clear she didn’t want to be there. After a few minutes, she interrupted me, looking straight at me for the first time. “Look,” she said. “I gave up on that kid a long time ago. You want to try to do something with him, you go ahead. I wish you luck.” And then she got up and left.
I felt sick. This was her son. He was maybe 15, still a KID, for crying out loud.
In the days that followed, I thought about Keith a lot. In class, I did my best to see him through fresh eyes. I made a point of talking to him more. And at some point, I realized that for all the headaches he caused, I actually liked having him in class. Turns out he was a funny guy. He had a big heart. After a while he even started doing some work. Not a lot, but some.
One day, another kid in class was being really smug and obnoxious. Without warning, Keith punched the kid in the face. He sighed and looked at me. “I’m really sorry. Had to be done. I’ll escort myself down to the office.” I guess that was the last straw for the school, because Keith was sent to an alternative school in the district. A good one, thankfully.
I saw Keith one more time, about a year later. He came to my class, grinning, a report card in hand. All A’s. “I decided it was time to get my $#*! together,” he said, simply.
I never saw him again, but I heard he continued to do well. And I’m glad that though others gave up on him, he decided not to give up on himself.
3. Traumatic Flip of Switch
My first teaching job, I had a fifth grader who was THE WOOOOORST (Jean-Ralphio voice). He would literally just stand up in the middle of class, laugh like a madman, and run out of my classroom. He also did a few things in the bathroom that no sane child would ever do, mostly involving feces.
I was new, so I asked around to see if this kid had a history of bad behavior. All of his previous teachers said he was actually one of the better-behaved kids, and he was pretty smart. No previous history of this kind of attitude or behavior whatsoever. They were baffled.
We (and by “we” I mean “all the fifth grade teachers and the principal”) met with his parents four times in two months, trying to determine the cause of all of this. In the first three meetings, his parents were cooperative, but seemed a little slow. They couldn’t think of any reason why little J (we’ll call him J) would act in such a way.
In the fourth meeting, I said “listen, kids don’t just flip a switch like this. J has ZERO history of disciplinary problems until this year. Can you think of ANYTHING that happened between 4th and 5th grade that might affect his psychological makeup?”
They said “Oh! His uncle was found shot dead in our home this summer. J was the one who discovered his body.”
Something that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!!!
2. No Means Yes
The mom who taught her son to say “No daddy’s house” even though he loves his dad. He understood “yes” and “no” perfectly before this. After she did this we had to re-teach it by taking things away when he said no, he didn’t want it. He was so confused and cried so much. His mom is literally the devil.
1. Twin Grades
Student teacher here. This one isn’t so bad as it is stupid.
I had a pair of twins in my French class. One was quite bright, not perfect. Say in the B+/A- range. The other not so much. The other twin was failing by a large margin.
Parent’s night. As a student teacher, I didn’t have to go. But I figured it was best to keep up appearances. So the twins’ mom comes in and we all talk about the first twins’ grades. Mainly saying that they do this well, and this, and that they need to work on this to get past the B+. As for the other twin, we list our concerns: they are good at this, but they really struggle with that, blah blah blah. Just your standard feedback that would help both twins do well.
However, the mother gave one of the stupidest responses I’d ever heard. Both the teacher and myself were speechless. You’d think her comment was a joke, but she was serious. Dead serious. And I bet it’s not the first time she’s said it.
“But if they’re identical twins, shouldn’t they have the same grade?”