Teaching is no mean feat, but a good teacher and an eager student can create wonders. However, both these roles are not without its challenges. The path is tough but the rewards are sweet. And these challenges and beckoning rewards are interspersed with both potholes and rejuvenating rest stops. Read on to learn about some of the potholes and the rest stops our readers came across as students or teachers.
1. A Reverse Cinderella Story
Yesterday was day one of school. I got my lovely students back from last year…except they are now less lovely and more like teenagers. Anyway, we had two hours of class as we had assembly and paperwork, so we bumbled along, and then I sent them on their way. As she’s leaving one girl, we’ll call her Sally, tells me the shoes her mom bought her really hurt her feet and she doesn’t want to wear them.
She’s actually not wearing them, just her socks. So as it’s break, I tell her to put them back on temporarily and go to the head of year’s office, as he has spare emergency shoes in most sizes and something worn in will probably be better than nothing. Then she needs to tell her mom to get new ones or try and wear them in. She agrees to this, but I didn’t know what I was getting into.
I learn in the process that her mom spent £98 on these shoes. They were black Mary Janes. How anyone could charge £98 is beyond me. Some of the parents at my school have more money than sense! So school rumbles on and finally, 3 pm comes into view. I’m packing up and planning my break when there’s a knock at my door. It’s Sally. She’s not wearing any shoes.
My head is already hurting, we’re having a heatwave and my last class was rough. I ask with trepidation, “Where are your shoes, Sally?” She says, “I lost them, miss.” It turns out she went to the head of year, but the only shoes he had were apparently “gross.” So she decided to keep her own and had been stealthily removing them all day.
It happened in lessons, on corridors, at breaks. Any chance she got, off the shoes came until, fatefully, she had removed them after leaving her last class and put them down somewhere. My heart sinks as she talks. I see my speedy exit dwindling away as the tale of woe unfolded. I ask where she’d had them last, and she says that it was in her geography class.
But they aren’t in the classroom or the corridor and Ms. Lewis had sent her to tell me. I think, “Thanks, Miss.” We go through every option of where she’d been and who she was with, but no one had seen them or remembered where the shoes had last been sighted. Eventually, I tell her she will have to confess to her mom.
Unexpectedly, as Sally is a cheerful sort, this brings floods of tears and genuine panic. Sally explains her mum will kill her and won’t let her go for more shoes until the weekend so she’ll have to come in trainers, and she’ll get a detention. I had wondered if I was being played until this point, but this was real emotion, or worthy of an Oscar.
So I dry her off, sit her with my fellow English teacher who is doing planning and tell her to do homework. I then scour the school from top to bottom. Every place she might have been or the shoes could have wandered off to. I alert janitors, teachers, admin, anyone I encounter. Finally, as a last-ditch attempt, I look on the field. It turned out to be a brilliant idea.
On the horizon, I see a small, black blob. I hurry over, and it becomes less blob like and more shoe-like as I approach, until finally there we are. Two shiny, black Mary Janes sitting neatly next to a goal post. I return them to their owner, who cries again. I make her put them on and fasten them in my presence, and then I send her on her way with threats of wrath if they don’t make it home.
Finally, before I collapse into my desk chair and beg for tea, I send an email to Sally’s mom and suggest she grab some cheap shoes for her child as her others seemed to be hurting her feet and she needed some time to wear them in before they came back to school. And so that is how my first day ended at school. With a mad shoe hunt.
2. On A High
This year I was a paraeducator, in half special ed preschool classroom. It was end of the year evaluation testing to see how much they learned. On this day, I was testing counting objects. So, I would say, “Give me one block,” with my hand out to be given the blocks, then “give me two blocks,” and so on and so forth we go.
I would continue to 10 even if they could not do it correctly. Eventually, it came time for me to test one of my favorite students, who was on the higher side of special needs. I know you’re not supposed to have favorites but let’s be honest we all do, and she was so sweet and cute but the other paras and teachers didn’t like her.
So, I did my normal testing with her. She was in the pm class, so she was like the 30th student I had done this with that day. We went “Give me one block,” she hands me three blocks, “Give me two blocks,” she hands me three blocks. So, knowing she could not do this, I then got lazy with my phrasing and shortened the phrases.
We went, “Give me three,” she hands me four blocks, “Give me four,” she hands me six blocks, “Give me five.” That’s when I got the surprise of my life. She then slaps my hand giving me a high five. I was so shocked I just started laughing, then let her know that she was fine and she had just made me really happy. I always wonder how she was doing after that since the next year I worked at a different school.
3. Not One Of A Kind
I currently teach in a fairly small high school. Plagiarism is always an issue in my English classes, but it’s not hard to catch kids at it. Between the built-in checkers that come with any online classroom set-up, it’s also super obvious when a kid’s writing style changes completely. In the last two weeks, I have had the following happen in the same class.
A kid copied their older sibling’s Twelfth Night essay from 2019. But it’s how I found out that takes the cake. The older sibling sent me an access request to their old essay that filled in that they wanted to share it with the younger sibling. If your older sibling had the same teacher, don’t use the same essay when I clearly still have access to it.
Also, if you’re going to do that, be more subtle and it might slip under my radar. Only, that wasn’t the end of it. The same kid then did a PowerPoint presentation for his final project. It was clearly a copy and paste job, which I can tell as the kid is presenting. I did a quick Google and it turns out it is the first hit for the topic that the kid was presenting.
Bonus, the kid submits the presentation after and the plagiarism software flags the entire thing. The kid also previously did a copy and paste job for an in-class, digital, open book quiz. The only thing that came to me was, “You are clearly on my radar already. Why would you then do it two more times?” And this kid has competition for the stupidest cheater.
There are two other kids in the same class. They decided to follow in the first kid’s footsteps, apparently. Just a word of advice: When your teacher explains to you in class about how every year for the past four years there is one student who copies the same essay from the Google search, shows you how easy it is to find in Google, and very specifically says not to use this essay, because I basically have it memorized at this point, don’t then plagiarize said essay.
Bonus: I have the plagiarism checker enabled so it flags it if I somehow missed it. I told the students as much. Still, two of them went ahead and did it. Well, okay, if you’re going to plagiarize at least make it less obvious.
4. The Wonderful Wizard
My mom teaches first grade in a fully face-to-face school, but she now has to remain away from school for two weeks because of exposure. The solution was to have her stream into the classroom while the students are supervised by a substitute teacher. It works pretty well, but all the kids see is her giant head on the smartboard. My mother’s last name is Oss, so she’s now being referred to as “The Great and Powerful Oss” by all.
When I was a teaching assistant, I used to work as a substitute teacher for very unruly classes, AKA, the classes licensed teachers wouldn’t accept. I had full responsibility, worked all hours, and my numbers showed that my class was making great progress. I just had some bad luck that caused me to not finish teaching college at that time.
Because I didn’t have my license, I got into a horrific situation My boss came to me one day and talked about how I was actually too uneducated and inexperienced to teach and that I must have had someone telling me what to do behind me. I told her that I didn’t have anyone like that, but she didn’t believe me and told me she’d be watching me like an eagle.
This was supposed to be to see if I was doing something fraudulent, like changing grades and other such things. I never did anything like that to my students. I’m not a cruel person, and I didn’t want anyone implying that I wasn’t doing my job as expected. The students had all got to the next year with scores higher than we would’ve expected beforehand. I came up with a plan to get revenge.
I started to behave like a beginner student-teacher, though only to my boss. I asked really stupid questions like “How can I make my class quiet? I’m really too uneducated to know so can you please help this teacher out by showing it?” I did this knowing full well that my formerly disruptive class wouldn’t ever listen to my boss.
I called her for everything; a parent wanting to talk to me, a kid who fell down and needed a Band-Aid; anything. I made sure to tell her that I was too uneducated and inexperienced to handle such a task, and I needed to observe a true pro at work. But that wasn’t the end of my plot. My colleagues got in on it too. They started pointing out everything I wasn’t allowed to do, but expected to do.
They then told my boss that it was illegal for her to expect me to do so. In the meantime, I was discussing gamification, the need for programming and English in primary school, showing older colleagues new teaching methods and digital assistance, basically all the goodies that I HAD learned throughout my education. After six weeks; she was finally done.
She called me to her office and apologized to me for saying that I was too uneducated and inexperienced. She also said she was renewing my contract and got some budget to pay for half of my studies. But I knew something she didn’t. I was happy to tell her that I had gotten a new job that would pay for everything to get me my license and I would get full creative freedom, without being watched like an eagle.
This was two years ago. I almost have my license now and I still work at that awesome school that hired me, after the allegations of being uneducated and inexperienced at my old job. I even got a reward and a trophy from the board for doing exceptional work and obtaining goals with my students. I miss the students, but I don’t miss that boss.
6. Hit Me With Your Best Shot
I had a heartwarming encounter with a student. Since I missed the bus today, I got the chance to talk to a student, who is 12 years old, and whom I barely know. I also have no influence over his grades or anything like that. He was having a snowball fight with his cousin and I got in the middle of it while I was passing by.
I was waiting for the bus and he jokingly aimed at me. I said to him, “Come on, do it!” He asked me if I was sure and I said that I was. He promptly threw the snowball, only it was way too high over my head. I asked him, “Why didn’t you do it? I know you can throw well.” He just shrugged and grinned. And this is probably one of the nicest gestures in my life.
7. The Magic Trick
For the summer program at my school, I ran a lesson where we dissected owl pellets. When my youngest group, starting K-2, was finishing up, I realized that there was no way they would be able to clean up in time for the next activity with how excited they were. Usually, I like to make them be more responsible, but I didn’t have time and didn’t want to leave bones and fur scattered across the room for the next teacher.
I got their attention and had them sit down and close their eyes. The talking and movement almost entirely stopped once they couldn’t see their friends and the dusty messes on the tables. I told them that I was going to do a cleaning magic trick, but they couldn’t open their eyes until I was done. Once they had their eyes closed, I started to blow their minds.
With the aid of sanitizing tables right behind me, I swept all of the pellet remains into a small garbage can and we were done in under two minutes. When I had them open their eyes, the majority of the kids were absolutely amazed. I’m surprised this worked and I don’t think I’ll be able to pull it off again, but it was totally worth it to have both efficiency and silence with that group.
8. An Obvious Observation
I teach at a university in South Carolina. It was the last week of the semester and I walked into the classroom and started writing notes on the board. A student asked in a very pathetic voice, “Can’t you just give us the answers to the final exam?” Without missing a beat, I replied, “What do you think I’ve been doing all semester?”
9. In From The Cold
A student in my school told the teacher that his mom told him to sleep in the hallway last night. It was so cold that he didn’t get much sleep. The teacher asked the student why the mom had done so. Then came the horrible explanation. The rent was due and the parent didn’t have the money to pay it. The landlord said, “Pay up or you’ll be moved before noon.”
The mom, realizing that she and her child would be out on the street if she didn’t do something, suggested an alternative to the rent. The alternative required her son to be out for the night…if you catch my drift…and so she told him to sleep in the hallway. It was the deep winter and the hallway wasn’t well heated, so this kid nearly froze and that’s why he couldn’t sleep. The teacher responded to this situation perfectly.
If he called the authorities, then the kid would be removed from the home and probably end up in a worse situation. Instead, he called out and had a hot breakfast delivered to his classroom. He told the kid to eat and then put his head down and get some sleep. He did as he was told by the teacher. The bells rang and the other kids started to come into the classroom.
This one child put his head down and fell asleep. The class continued as normal. That day, the teachers’ supervisor made a surprise visit and quietly moved to the back of the class to observe. The teacher continued whatever lesson he was presenting at the moment. Suddenly the supervisor got up and quickly walked to the front of the classroom where the kid had his head down and was sleeping.
“Wake up!” she shouted. The teacher intervened by saying loudly, “Ms. O’Brien, I wouldn’t do that.” The supervisor continued to shout and started to poke the kid in his side to get him to wake. She yelled something to the effect of, “You can’t sleep in school, it’s against the rules!” With that, all heck broke loose. The student awoke and got up, picked up his chair, and attempted to wrap it around the screaming supervisor’s head.
She ran to the back of the room screaming and the kid followed, trying to nail her with the chair. He kept missing, and she kept running and screaming. Down the hall it went with her screaming all the way. The student lost all momentum after a short while and returned to the classroom. His comment was, “Who was that?”
The teacher said, “Don’t worry, sit down and go back to sleep.” As you might expect, the teacher was immediately called to the office by me, the principal of the school. A substitute took over his class while he was at the office. I said, “Ms. O’Brien says she was attacked by a student in your class. She tells me that the student tried to hit her with a chair. Can you explain any of this?”
The teacher responded with, “Well, yes I can tell you what I saw and what the rest of the class will also support. Ms. O’Brien was sitting in the back of the classroom observing my lesson when she suddenly got up and ran to the front of the room, yelling, ‘Get up!; and also poking a sleeping child that was doing what I told him to do. So yes, an attack took place before my very eyes and also in the eyes of the rest of the class. Before I could do anything to stop this, the altercation happened. This child was defending himself as a result of the attack he had just suffered.”
The supervisor was told to return to the Board of Education and speak to the superintendent regarding this matter. Then the teacher and I wrote up their individual reports regarding the matter and faxed them to the superintendent for their perusal. The end result was that the supervisor was reminded that screaming and poking a student is an attack and that the student responded in the only way he could, coming out of a sound sleep.
He protected himself. When the teacher received the final report regarding that particular classroom observation, he wasn’t surprised. He received satisfactory grades in all areas except one. In Classroom Control he received a U, an Unsatisfactory rating. To this day, this was the only Unsatisfactory rating that he ever received, and he was very proud of it.
10. Blast From The Past
I am a reading interventionist. We work on sight words, phonics, and read a leveled reader throughout the week. This is what happened with my third-grade group today. We were going to start a leveled reader on Barack Obama. Before we start nonfiction texts, we list things that they already know. We also look at pictures.
The students knew that he was President and that he was African American. So, we started talking about things that we wanted to know and things that we were hoping to learn. They kept bringing up one bizarre thing. They wanted to know when and how he lost his life. I was confused because he was quite alive, and I said as much.
They kept insisting that he was not. Finally, it clicked in my head, “Oh, they must be thinking about Martin Luther King Jr. with MLK day coming up soon.” I have a leveled reader on MLK and I pull it out. His picture is on the front. We started talking about him and what he had done. They were saying that not only was he long gone too but also that he was a President.
I said that he was not a President. But no, they were positive that he is the President. Then I said that Martin Luther King Jr. did his work in the 1960s, which was 60 years ago. We talk about how he went and made speeches to crowds of people on segregation. On the other hand, Barack Obama was President a mere four years ago.
They are still sure that MLK was President. I had to stop and check myself for a second because they were so convinced that I was doubting myself at that point. 20 minutes. That is how long this process took. I got to talking to them about the vocabulary and the history and decided that we are going to be reading this book this week and save the book about Obama for another time. They had me questioning my sanity.
11. Now You See It, Now You Don’t
I teach at an international school in Vietnam. Things are different here, so don’t try this at home. There are simply different rules in this country. We don’t have a principal’s office, detention, or direct and meaningful access to parents who care about their child’s education. As the teacher, I am the judge, the jury, and the executioner.
So, in this school is this kid who keeps playing with his little army man. All the rich kids at this school have a wide variety of toys and candy on them at all times. It’s a challenge. Now, these are kids whose daddies’ Range Rovers cost $300,000 each after the 200% import tax. Unsurprisingly, these kids can be brats, and brats like to learn lessons the hard way. Challenge accepted.
I’m generally pretty chilled out, but I do not give third chances to anyone. One warning, that’s it. This is especially important with my first graders, because a lot of them are learning rules and consequences for the first time. Back to the army man. He was laying down covering fire on the desk while I was talking, again.
This kid’s desk happens to be in front of a large pillar. On the opposite side of the pillar is a trash can with a foot pedal-operated lid. The pillar blocks his view of most of the trash can. You might know where this is going. I snuck up on him, yanked that thing out of his hands, walked behind the pillar, and pretended to throw it out.
I made a show of stomping on the pedal so the lid slammed into the wall as it opened, and pretended to throw it out, all in one smooth motion. In the half-second that I was behind the pillar, I slipped the army man into my sleeve so I could show him my empty hands when I reappeared and walked back to the board. This led to a river of crocodile tears.
I relished every last drop as the silent waterworks intensified and then slowly dried up over the next few minutes. This kid never listens, and he definitely doesn’t have rules or consequences at home. I was actually really impressed by how hard he tried to stop crying and do his work. Good for him. A little trooper, just like his army man.
I loved my army men when I was a kid. Eventually, the guilt got to me so I gave it back 10 minutes before the end of class, instead of at the end as per usual. I guess my heart hasn’t turned into stone yet. He looked at me like I’d just reincarnated his goldfish and scrambled to put his friend into his backpack. Good. That was the last time I saw Sergeant Green or heard the sound of his soldier playing while I was talking.
12. Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall
I am a brand-new teaching artist working with grades seven to twelve. My seventh graders are chaotic as anything. When I sent them to get their supplies from their closet, one of them said, “I can’t get my stuff. There’s a scary monster in here!” The kid seated closest to me at the front of the room turned to him and asked him, very deadpan and calmly, “You mean there’s a mirror in the closet?”
I audibly cackled and tried to get myself together but not really. The kid’s going to be an insult comic.
13. Selective Hearing
One of the teachers in our department taught a lesson to a year ten class, and in the lesson mentioned that pineapple pickers sometimes end up losing their fingerprints because pineapples are rough and they spend long portions of their day constantly picking them. He told the story and thought absolutely nothing of it at all. It came back to bite him in the most hilarious way.
A few days later we’re sitting in the staff room and we get a phone call. The teacher answers and cannot stop laughing. A student is in the first aid room, writhing on the floor in agony during lesson one. It’s the cause of the injury, and not the injury itself, that caused this reaction in the teacher. Turns out this student didn’t pay the best attention in the lesson.
As a result, he had heard the teacher say, “Lots of pineapple = losing your fingerprints.” So he’d been to Tesco that morning and bought six liters of pineapple juice, drank as much of it as he could, and given himself crippling stomach cramps, all, because he wanted to get rid of his fingerprints, for what I can only assume is nefarious reasons.
14. Wrong Place, Right Time
Monday was the first day for our students to be on campus. We’re on an A/B day split, so I only see any given group of students every other day. The kids were pretty good, and I only had one kid, in my last class of the day, who didn’t show up. Since he wasn’t on the absentee list, I followed protocol and marked him as “Skipped” in the computer.
Today that group of students was back and the missing kid walked up to me. “Hey, sorry,” he said, “I went to the wrong class.” “Where were you?” I asked. “I was in the Fieldhouse,” he said. I took a moment to register this. “You were in the Fieldhouse for an hour, and you never realized it wasn’t English class?” I asked. And, yes, indeed, that was what had apparently happened. It is going to be a long year, my friends.
15. Saying It Like It Is
At my school, we had a huge field trip where we went to Atlanta, Georgia, which is out of state for us, as we live in Alabama. It was huge and exciting and a really big deal to us then fifth- or sixth-graders. We took one of the charter buses, which were considered the fancy buses, and we got to bring our phones and electronics and headphones on the bus with us.
It was the day before and my teacher, let’s call her Mrs. H, was going over the rules and policies we had to follow. Mrs. H was the type of person who didn’t sugarcoat things. If she needed to tell you something, she’d tell you straight without any glossing over anything. So it came out that we had to be at the school at 4 am to catch the bus.
Apparently, this was cool for us kids but not for her. She was brutally honest. She laid it flat out by saying, “This is super early in the morning. If I didn’t have to go I wouldn’t but since I do, I have some rules regarding the bus. One, don’t touch me, I don’t want your dirty little fingers on me. Two, don’t go screaming, everyone’s tired. Three, don’t talk to me, I’m putting on my headphones and I’m going to sleep. I suggest you do the same.”
You know it was kind of strange for a teacher to say this but it was also really funny, especially since she was nearly a foot shorter than most of us even back then. Because of that she was really loud and liked to get even louder to assert dominance. She also carried a step stool onto the bus and stood on it while she was yelling at us to sit down and be quiet as she was going to sleep. I still think about it to this day and how funny it was.
16. An Outlandish Mistake
When I was in high school, English was basically the only thing I was good at, mostly because of watching English video games, TV series, and movies. I was always ahead of my classmates because ever since I could use an English-Portuguese dictionary, I had the habit of looking stuff up to learn. Well, one day, in an English class, we were practicing reading.
Each student read a paragraph, and the teacher would correct pronunciation and explain anything we asked. She didn’t like me, mostly because I paid very little attention to her class which was because I was basically fluent at this point. At one point, someone read the word “earthlings,” and immediately someone raised their hand and asked the meaning of that word. This is where my problem started.
The teacher said that it meant extraterrestrials. I then raised my head, at first thinking that I had understood her wrong, and asked her if she had said what I thought she did. She said that she had. I then said that I thought that it meant people from earth, but she remained firm as she said it did not mean that but that it meant ETs.
I then said, very politely, that I had seen that word quite a few times, and by context alone I was really positive it meant what I said. By the look on her face, I think she had realized her mistake. I thought her reaction was idiotic. Instead of saying something like “I’ll look it up later” or “let’s look now,” or even “let’s not lose momentum and circle back to that later,” she got mad at me.
She said that I never paid any attention and that I only got good grades because I attended a private language school. The latter was true, but the situation over there was pretty much the same. She also emphasized that I should stop trying to undermine her. She even said that she was going to speak to my aunt, who owned the school and with whom I used to commute to school, after class.
So I, young, dumb, and stupid, said, “Okay, then, sorry for disturbing the class. But I know earthling means a person from earth, and I hope others look it up in the dictionary instead of just believing that it means an ET.” I am now 31 years old, so I do understand that that last part was just plain disrespectful, regardless of me being right about the matter.
However, at that point, she just looked at me, looked back at the article we were reading, and called the next person in line to read. The class was completely silent from then until the end of the period. After that, she just put her stuff in her bag, and left. She didn’t even assign homework. I was sweating blocks of ice at that point, and for good reason.
My aunt is still a terrifying woman to be on the bad side of, because she never berates anyone, never shouts, and never loses her temper. She could always set anyone straight by just arranging the facts on the table and telling things as they were. And I would be stuck in a car with her a few minutes after the teacher talked to her.
My classmates avoided speaking to me after that class because they knew my aunt, and several of them knew what I was about to experience. My aunt left her office 10 minutes after her usual time, so I knew that those minutes were spent with my English teacher. Her reply made things so much worse. She looked at me normally, and just proceeded to say, “Shall we?”
My friends were waiting for their parents at the entrance, and some of them looked at me like I was a goner. I could see little smiles on their faces. My subsequent conversation with my aunt went something like this. My aunt said, “So, I’ve spoken to your teacher.” I just hummed. She went to say, “She said that you were disrespectful. What happened?”
I told her, “She translated a word wrong and refused to accept my correction.” My aunt prompted me with an “and,” so I continued and said, “And I said that my friends shouldn’t believe her, and that they should look the word up.” My aunt then mused, “Even if you are correct, do you think you should challenge the authority of your teacher?
“It does not help your case, it makes her uncomfortable, it makes students prone to challenging instead of questioning and, frankly, I expected more of you. I know that you were most likely right in your correction, but what credibility do you think you have after being disrespectful?” I did not have an answer to these plain facts.
She continued, “I know you know English, but is that the behavior you are bringing with you into adulthood? I am 100% sure you could have handled that situation differently. Teachers are allowed to make mistakes sometimes, and you are allowed to tell them when it happens. Actually, you are expected to. But you must always, always try to be better.
“If the teacher will not agree to your correction, why not wait and show her the dictionary after class? Why not privately speak to her? I obviously agree that she has the duty to look it up and make the correction for the whole class at some point, but she also has to maintain her authority when she is teaching. Undermining her with salty remarks will get you nowhere.
“Even if at that time she felt that she should not look that word up, you have to trust your teachers to do what is right in their own time. Are you certain she wouldn’t have looked the word up after class? Because if she does and then explains her mistake to the class, you were just misbehaving. Like a child.” I was, of course, stunned silent.
So, my aunt asked me, “Now, what are you going to do about this?” I finally had something to say and said, “I’m going to apologize to the teacher tomorrow, and after I am on good terms with her, I’ll politely show her the dictionary. But I think she won’t like that last part and might be mad at me again, even if in silence.”
My aunt agreed to the possibility and suggested, “You can also just not show her the dictionary and move on, right?” My silence clearly conveyed that I could not, in fact, bring myself to do that. So, my aunt said, “I know you. And I know you can’t let these things slide. Do what you think is right, and be ready to deal with the consequences.
“As your aunt, and not as the principal, I think you have to show her you were right, because it will also teach her some humility. I guarantee she will not do anything to punish you, because that’s not how she is. And please, trust your teachers more. Have faith in them. I have selected all of them, and I know them very well.
“I am aware of their flaws, and I also know what happens to them outside of school. Trust them, and trust me. Also, study math and physics, you will fail.” The next day I spoke to the teacher, explained that I was wrong in saying what I had said, and that I could have done a better job at communicating with her. I did not end the conversation there.
I also added that, from that moment on, I would trust her judgment and have faith that she would not let us down as students. Finally, I took out my English dictionary, and said that I didn’t mean to be disrespectful at all, but that I’d really like to look up the word with her. She then said that she had looked the word up after she got home, and that I was, indeed, right.
Right at the start, she told the whole class that the word actually meant what I said it did, apologized and moved on. I later found out that my aunt had also spoken to my teacher, and told her to not be afraid of being corrected by a student, to embrace it and use it as a tool and to try and keep her cool in situations such as those. But there was one tragic twist.
I also discovered that the teacher had had a miscarriage two weeks before that incident, which made everything my aunt told me resonate even more with me. So there it is. The tale of how I was wrong in being right, and how I frankly believe my aunt was born to do what she does.
17. Word Play
Before becoming a teacher, I subbed for about a month, and my very first day was by far my worst. It was also the only time I ever subbed or taught at a middle school. I was subbing for a coach/science teacher, and he had left a test for me to give the kids in each of the five periods he had. His instructions said that the test would take up most of the class period.
They also clarified that if students finished early, they could quietly read a book or magazine. After I read that line, I knew I was in trouble. I looked around his classroom and noticed that there were no books or magazines readily visible. Then the first period class comes in. The kids are four feet tall and louder than a nuclear disaster.
Bear in mind that I’ve never taught before at this point and have no real sense of classroom management, but I finally got them settled and passed out the test papers. The kids were finished with that test in a heartbeat. And with there being no books or magazines for them to read, and they certainly hadn’t brought their own, they just talked the whole rest of the period.
Thankfully, my second period was a planning period, and I was determined not to go through that fresh pain with every successive period. I searched the guy’s classroom and found a word search that covered the topic that the test covered; the Respiratory System. I happily ran off multiple copies to have on hand to hand out.
When the next class finished their tests, I passed out the word search to occupy the rest of their class time. It was the beginning of my end. In minutes, the giggling started. In my haste, I hadn’t noticed that the word search actually contained words related to three systems within the human body. Respiratory, yes, but also Digestive and, as I just noticed, Reproductive.
I looked at the words from the latter, which had caused the predictable giggles in the students. Right about then, I heard one student stage whisper to another with one of the words, asking them if they had found the said word yet. Still, it did keep them relatively quiet and occupied after their five-minute tests were over. So I continued passing out the word searches during the other periods that day.
18. Trash Talk
So today, one of my students asked if he could get up to throw something away. He walked to the trash can, made a whole scene of throwing the paper in and then, in a deep, tough voice, said, “Know your place, trash!” Talk about timing. And what quick thinking. I laughed so hard I have not yet recovered. I love teaching so much!
19. Egging On
I was in my English class today and it happened to be the last period on a Friday so absolutely nobody, including the teacher, wanted to do work. So as we got to about 20 minutes or so left of the class, the teacher gave up trying to wrangle the class and decided to tell us stories from her experiences in the US when she was doing her teaching degree.
She told us that she was working at New Orleans school in 1986 in a predominantly African-American lower socio-economic school, which had a major problem with teen pregnancy and the fathers rejecting their responsibilities as being the fathers. At that point, she had gotten word of teaching these kids responsibility through making them take care of an egg.
The rules were simple: They couldn’t leave the egg alone and they had to keep it for exactly one week without it breaking. She paired the kids up in couples, and they were to care for the egg together. However, when she handed out the eggs, the class split in two and the girls got super excited over the concept and the boys rejected the idea thinking it was stupid, pushing off the responsibility on to their partners.
Nevertheless, the task continued. As a part of this, they were given a small task to do which was to create birth certificates for the eggs. Again, the girls did all of the work and the boys sat separately, still brooding over the idea. Day two of the assignment the girls came back to school and had drawn little faces onto the eggs.
They had also cut and glued some of their hair to the tops of the eggs, some had even come with multiple eggs saying, “I have always wanted twins.” Day Three rolled around and word had spread and the girls were enjoying it so much that girls in other classes began carrying eggs around and doing similar with their own eggs. Then it got right out of control.
Day four had led to the “Eggademic” spreading to multiple schools across the city. The girls had also begun to make a business out of the whole thing and began selling furniture for the eggs. There were even daycare and babysitting services for the eggs advertising to give the girls a break so that they could have lunch in peace.
One kid supposedly was very wholesome and religious and was the only boy to get involved in the whole thing. He began baptizing the eggs as he had always wanted to become a minister. By the end of this day, all the girls in the school had roughly five eggs each. Day five and the school was getting confused calls from other principals.
All were wondering why all of the girls at their schools were carrying eggs around with them and looking after them like babies. Ultimately, the school my teacher was working at told her she had to end the assignment which she did and, apparently, the eggademic quietened down after a while.
20. Oh, Crumbs!
When I went to primary school, the building was in terrible shape. The roof was leaking, it got really cold in winter, and there were cracks everywhere. And these were just a few of the many things wrong with it. It was demolished years ago. However, it was still there when this incident happened. At this point, my parents were invited to a parent-teacher conference.
It was one of those conferences where the teachers expressed concerns about mold and dust affecting their students’ health, some of whom apparently had asthma, discussing possible measures. One of the parents shrugged and, in all honesty, demanded to just “ban crumbly sandwiches because inhaling the crumbs was causing these kids to have asthma.” What a revelation! It is still a running gag in my family.
21. A Shoe In
When I was student-teaching music, I went back to the percussion section to see what kind of nonsense they’re up to. About four or five of them had all switched shoes and were now wearing mismatched pairs. I gave them my best exasperated sigh and asked what the game was. One of them enlightened me with a reply that was most illuminating.
They said something along the lines of, “I don’t know, you tell us, you started it.” I looked down. Yup. I had put my shoes on in the dark that morning and had one brown shoe and one black shoe on.
22. A Helping Hand
This happened eight years ago and I know I will be forever grateful to my school and teachers. In 2012, I fractured my leg during summer and was in the bed for almost six months. I couldn’t attend school or classes. As this was an important year and also because we honestly didn’t expect my leg to be a problem for six months, I continued with school work.
I would write the assignments and submit them via my sister. We used to have monthly tests, which I used to write and submit the next day when my dad collected the next question paper. My school was very accommodating and helpful. I even wrote my first semester exams from home. Two of my teachers even came to my home on their own time just to help me out.
The school didn’t request them and my parents didn’t. They came forward on their own to teach me at home to help their student. For four months every week, my Math and Sanskrit teachers used to come home and teach me. The day that I went back to school, my principal and a few teachers who had previously taught me came and checked on me regularly for days to make sure that I was okay.
I even remember my Chemistry teacher hugging me and welcoming me back. Their love and kindness make me cry even now. I love you, my teachers. I will always be grateful.
23. A Light In The Gloom
It was my sophomore year of high school. I had just turned 15 and it was really one of the worst times of my life emotionally. This would have been in probably October, and back in April was when I tried to end my life. I was angry at the world for a number of reasons. I think a lot of it came from trauma from my mother and eventually her being gone completely for my life.
I was so angry in my freshman and sophomore years in high school, and I felt I had so much going on. I ended up failing my English class my freshman year in both semesters. I failed a number of classes as well as that one. I, like many others, just didn’t see the point in school. I didn’t have any motivation at all. There seemed to be no point. But it got so much worse.
Then August and September came around, my new antidepressants were still not working, I was so angry at myself and the world. I was in English two as well as English one that year. It wasn’t too difficult, I could have done it. I just didn’t want to. So, I didn’t do it. I didn’t do any work in pretty much any of my classes.
My English two teacher tried to motivate me but I’d shrug it off. The one thing about her, though, was that she didn’t put in zeros until the end of the quarter, holding off till the last moment. She told us a couple of times a week that she hadn’t put in zeros yet but eventually would. She did this mostly I believe for kids who were in sports.
This was so that they wouldn’t be ineligible to play. She allowed kids to turn in late work and told us that at the end of the quarter she would be forced to put in the zeros. I kept up with the assignments that I didn’t do, basically putting in the totals for my grade myself. I figured that at the end of the quarter I would have a 23% after she put in zeros. At the time, I think I had a high C.
The quarter ended and I checked my grades, and my C was still there. I checked a couple of days later, it was still there. I knew the grades were due on Friday, I was her second to last class, so I thought that she may have put it off. Friday at noon came around, and I checked the grades again. My C was still there. At that moment I knew.
I knew she hadn’t made a mistake. I honestly couldn’t believe it. I have no idea why she chose not to fail me. I remember my previous teacher failed me with a 59% the previous year for the semester when the cut-off was 60%. I really don’t care about the why after that though. Monday came around and I knew I had to find her that morning.
I remember arriving before she did that day. I waited outside her classroom for about five minutes before she showed up. I immediately thanked her. I began to tear up because there was still a doubt in my mind that it may have been an accident. But she told me that it wasn’t. She told me that she believed in me and that she knew what I was capable of.
She let me keep the C that I had gained from the small amount of work I did in fact do. That same morning, I told her that I would truly try in her class. That I would do the work in her class. And I would try to make it up to her. I didn’t really try in my other classes, and, in fact, I ended up failing English one again.
I also ended up taking it in summer school and barely scraping by in some of my other classes. But I did succeed in her class. I actually read books in her class, I wrote essays and actually enjoyed writing them. And I participated in her class. I didn’t only pass her class, I ended up exceeding in it. She helped motivate me in other ways too.
She helped me with home problems, writing resumes, and just supported me when I needed her. She really helped me find myself later in my life. Her passing me that day, when I in no way deserved it, was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. I will always remember that day and that moment. And that day helped shape me into who I am today.
24. The Eye Of The Beholder
My art teacher is probably the greatest teacher alive to this day. I studied with him for three years, during which he was always smiling. Sometimes people would show him an assignment and he would be like, “How beautiful! Wonderful!” no matter the quality. Some people didn’t like him because they thought that he was childish.
However, it was not like he was trying to make a child happy or pandering to someone. He was truly honest when he paid those compliments. He really loved his students’ artwork. I, personally, think that he found beauty in the effort, not in the art. He said to us something like, “The good art is the one you like to do.” What I think he meant was to tell us to make art we enjoyed creating rather than making something we thought people enjoyed looking at. He is a great man.
25. A Twisted Concept
My first grader came home from school today and was so excited to tell me he learned about “ramen noodles.” And that he knows X=10 and I=1. I asked him for clarification and if he meant “roman numerals.” He adamantly reiterated that, no, he meant ramen noodles. His teacher, my colleague, is going to laugh so hard when I get to work tomorrow and tell her.
26. Teacher Interrupted
So there I am teaching grade eight students when suddenly at my door a wild mom appeared. No, she didn’t knock, she just walked right on in. I actually assumed she was an EA at first. However, that notion was soon dispelled. She told me that she was there to pick up the papers for Student X. I realized that I taught the said student in the morning in the grade nine class.
Thus, I had nothing for her. Confused, I said, “I’m sorry?” The mom reiterated, “I need her papers.” This time I asked more clearly, “I’m sorry, who are you?” She, finally, clarified that she was Student X’s mom. Going back to my initial dilemma, I told her, “All the handouts can be found on the Google classroom.” All this time, my class full of eighth-graders watched in confusion.
The mom continued, “No. it’s the papers that she wrote on. I need them.” I told her, “I don’t know what you are talking about. All the handouts can be found on the Google classroom for students who were absent or lost theirs.” The mom told me to hang on while she checked with her child. Then she proceeded to pull out her phone and text the child.
While I was still confused, she once again said, “Look, I just need her papers; the ones she wrote on.” Realizing that she was not going to go away, I took out all three worksheets but did not pass them to her, as I was annoyed. Once again, I told her, “Look. These are what we did today, and we did a few pages in the video packet.”
“All of these are available on the Google classroom. If she lost them, she needs to go there. I don’t know what else you are talking about.” The mom then picked up the phone to call her child, but at least left the room and started down the stairwell. I turned to my wide-eyed eighth-graders and said to them, “Never do that. Never have your mom do that. Like never.”
A kid piped up with, “Yeah, that was weird.”
27. Egg On Face
Here’s the insanity that’s just literally happened due to being a teacher: My house has just been egged. There’s just one thing. I’m at the beginning of my teaching career, and I still live with my parents. I teach at the one and only high school in my county. Two weeks ago, I had a student who was able to describe my house and told me where I lived.
They even joked about egging my house. I didn’t think anything about it. I thought it was a passing comment. Now, I have been woken up in the middle of the night thinking that I was under fire—to my house being egged. The authorities were contacted. They talked to my neighbor who said they saw three people walking down the street.
When asked, one said, “We’re (insert my name)’s cousins.” I’m fairly certain that my students egged my house. When we go back to school on Wednesday, I have to talk with the SRO about the report that’s been filed and to see what’s up. I’m so upset that it’s ended up affecting my parents—that this wasn’t just done to me.
28. Scientifically Proven
It was my sixth-grade year in school. It was my science class and first-period homeroom, and one day the teacher just brings in this thick, black binder that isn’t labeled. She sets it in the back of the room without a second thought. We were all asking what it was and she just says, “Wait until you have science,” which was the sixth period.
We all get into class and are waiting for the bell to ring so we can see the binder. We ask and she says, “Wait until the end of the period, we can all see it as a group.” So, we wait and do our lesson, and it’s ten minutes until the bell rings, and she dismisses us so we can all look at the binder, and for some reason, she has me go get it and bring it to her.
We were shaking with anticipation. She opens to the first paper of the binder. She slowly opens it. Bam! It’s science memes! God bless her soul. I am now in the ninth grade, about 14-15 years old, and I hope that she still has it.
29. Shout It Out
During my fourth year as a school administrator, my 14th overall in education, I had my first and only instance of yelling at someone while at work. I had transferred to the only K-12 school in our district. It had been an expansion of the district and an experiment combined into one school. The principal asked me to transfer there.
I was asked to deal with some discipline issues the year before, and I accepted. Now, I know that most educators try to keep their cool and many have never raised their voice. I also know of a number of professionals who have lost their cool and let their emotions get the better of them. Normally, I am as cool as ice on the outside. But this one day was a day that just pushed me over the edge.
I lost my cool and I yelled at a teacher. I was working at a school that was a Title 1 school and we had our fair share of problems. However, we had a fantastic robotics team. They competed in the FTC robotics competitions and often placed in the state. They even made it to nationals once. Well, this year, the team was on fire.
The team was led by a tenth grader who was just brilliant. We’ll call him Cappy. He led an all-star team that seemed to be poised to win state. After qualifying for state and getting everything that they needed ready, they were supposed to leave on a Thursday morning to go upstate to the competition. It was a three-hour drive by van and they wanted time to get there, sight-see, and get well rested for the competition that weekend.
When I was checking the permission slips as the students made their way onto the van, I noticed that the team captain’s permission slip wasn’t with the rest of the slips. I pulled him aside and asked for it. He told me that he had forgotten it and that his dad would bring it after work. I let him know that he could not leave on this trip without that slip.
I also let him know that he could call his mother or father to see if they could drop it off, but that without it, he was staying put. Cappy was visibly upset and was pleading with me to just let him go with the team. That’s when our Computer Science teacher, we’ll call him Microchip, came over. He was the team sponsor and a huge fan/supporter of the FTC.
He honestly spent more time focused on the team than teaching computers. I caught him regularly pulling team members from classes to work on the robot or giving his classes busy work so he could work on the robot. When I saw him, I knew I had a hard time coming. Well, Microchip came over and wanted to know why Cappy wasn’t getting on the van.
I told him and he just lost it. He started to raise his voice to me in front of the students and demanded that I let Cappy go with them. I explained repeatedly that no student left without being signed out and no student went on any field trip without a permission slip. It is a liability and it is the law. Microchip just went on a long rant about it being okay because I would get it this afternoon and he knew the family and he could get permission over the phone if need be.
I wouldn’t budge. I told him that he could go with the others, but Cappy had to stay until I got that form. So I considered the situation over and I headed back in. As I did so, I walked by a window and nearly screamed at the sight. I saw Microchip literally helping Cappy into the van. I ran out and told the student to get out.
I then told Microchip that what I said wasn’t a suggestion. It was how it was going to be. I still was being polite, but I was starting to lose my cool. I don’t order my staff around and I always treat them with respect due to educated professionals. But I also won’t tolerate them disrespecting me, each other, or students.
So I pulled him aside and explained in no uncertain terms that that student would not leave this campus without that form being placed in my hand, and that was final. He said, “Fine,” in the way an angry teen would when told that they can’t go to a party. I then went back inside via the gym and was followed by Microchip.
Apparently, he had a change of heart ten seconds later and he came right up to me yelling. He was inches from my face screaming about how important the competition was and that I was unreasonable. He went on for about 45 seconds, yelling at me in front of a class that was having PE at the time. I calmly told him to stop yelling, follow me to the office, and we would discuss it there.
He stopped screaming and followed me. I will be honest. My defenses were up, and I was honestly worried that I would punch him when he was yelling at me. I am a bit aggressive and very defensive of my own safety. I have no problem using force to defend myself. As we walked back, I noticed I had clenched my fist so hard that my nails had dug into my hands.
We got to the office, and I had the two kids in there leave and then asked the office staff to go back to my office. I then shut and locked the office door. When we were finally alone, I let loose. I got in his face and started chewing him out in a way my Drill Sergeants would have applauded. I made sure that there was no doubt that he would never take a student off campus without permission, that he would never yell at me in front of students, and that he would never get in my face again.
I laid into him for at least two minutes. By the time that I was done, he’d gone white in the face and looked visibly scared. I then straightened up my tie, unlocked the door, and told him that either he could take part of the team or wait until Cappy’s parents arrived and then take all of them. He just said, “Yes, sir,” in a quiet voice, and he and the team waited for 45 minutes.
Then Cappy’s mom arrived with the permission slip. I apologized to the ladies who worked in the office in case I had scared them. After they left, I called the principal, who was at the district all day, to let him know what had happened. He not only agreed with my decision but thanked me for standing my ground.
The next day, after talking to the office staff, he asked me to do him two favors. One, warn the office staff if I was going to lose my temper in the future. And two, if I ever got mad at him, please let him know so he had a chance to apologize. We laughed, and I apologized again to the office staff if I had scared them.
The team took third in the state competition. Microchip got a second chewing out by the principal and someone from the district the Monday he returned. Microchip never talked to me again outside of necessity that year. I am not proud of the fact that I yelled at him, but as I stated, he was going to cause huge problems if he had done what he tried to do.
30. What’s In A Name
I was assessing my students’ reading levels today, and the one I was working with was reading a book about how pumpkins grow. After he finished reading, I asked him comprehension questions about the text. I started by asking, “Can you name any other plants that grow from seeds?” The student said that he could. I paused and waited for him to elaborate.
So, the student expanded on his statement by clarifying, “Like, I wanted to grow an apple tree in my backyard. I could have named the tree ‘Apple-y’.” Not the brightest bulb in the drawer.
I’ve worked with this student for about a month now. She can be a bit creative, and her stories don’t always make sense. She’s the kind of kid that will tell you lengthy stories about her sister, only for her mother to mention she’s an only child. Additionally, she carries that air of trauma some kids have, even though she’s only seven years old.
We read a story called Bubble Bear about, shocker, a bear who blows bubbles. I asked her to draw a picture of her favorite part and write a sentence to go with it. She worked for a while, and then proudly showed me the result. A picture of, clearly, herself, next to a floating bear. Her sentence wasn’t particularly legible, so I asked her to describe it.
She said, “That’s me. And that’s the bear. Only he’s gone now. And a ghost. But we’re still friends. He’s at my birthday party.” I can only hope my face didn’t look as shocked and confused as I felt. “Did…did that happen in the story?” I asked, trying to keep it together and redirect. She clarified, “No. But it will.”
I completely abandoned Bubble Bear and the rest of the story and moved on to something else. Never know when a kid is going to pull a Sixth Sense on you, I guess.
32. Flawless Imitation
I work for a private school. When it first opened, we had a large contingent of spoiled, over-privileged kids. Parents were generally local politicians or big businessmen. Over time, I really got to know them and liked them, but they were pretty hard to tolerate at first. For instance, they honestly couldn’t see what was offensive about certain questions.
Examples of that include asking me things like why I didn’t have the “taste” to wear designer clothes. They were also super hung up on make-up and looking cool even though they were just in the eighth grade at the time. On the last lesson before New Year, I decided to lighten the mood by doing a fun lesson.
I told them we’d take a “quiz” about fun English language facts, since this was an ESL class. Whoever won would get a prize, so I requested them to work on it individually. This class also had a cheating problem. Pretty much every task, really, had to be watched because they would collaborate despite clear and emphatic instructions to the contrary.
Of course, this was low stakes, so I didn’t really care, except it went against the spirit of the thing. It was a competition, after all. So, even though I asked them to do it themselves, I could hear them collectively repeat the questions. Then karma came for them. They got to a question that asked, “How can you write the phrase ‘iced ink’ so that it sounds the same, but has a different meaning?”
Cue to five, overly made-up fashionistas chanting “I stink” over and over with great ethusiasm. Meanwhile, I was trying not to laugh SO hard, and they had no idea why. Eventually, the ringleader figures it out. I am glad to say that she had a sense of humor, but honestly thought I would be hearing from some parents that evening.
33. Cream On The Cake
I teach middle school. It was a strange and crazy day. Right in the middle, we stopped to celebrate a birthday. The birthday girl chose a funfetti cake with canned whipped cream. So I served up the cake and whipped cream and we sang. There was a bit of whipped cream left over, so I gave some to the birthday girl on her hand.
Next thing I know, her hand covered in whipped cream was pressing on my face with her smiling mischievously. There were two ways to react here. I chose the way where I went with it and laughed because 13 is an awkward year. She asked if we could take a picture. Someone got their phone to do so. I proceeded to put whipped cream on my hand and as the picture was being taken, it ended up on her face too! Maybe I should have been serious but it sure was fun.
34. Please Remember
I teach kindergarten, and I have a class of about 19 students. One particular student, let’s call her K, is a foster kid. She had been doing great and making new friends just after a week of being in my class. One day, I went to pick up my class from gym and I saw K running down the hallway and the counselor catching up to her.
I saw them both walk back to the front office and I was confused. She hadn’t behaved like that with me before. The gym teacher told me that the administration had pulled K from gym to talk with her social worker. I walked my kids back to class minus K, as she was still in the front office. I went back to my class as normal.
I taught math and got part of the way through science when the counselor knocked on my door. I told my class to keep working at a level two—table talk—and I opened the door. My heart nearly burst at what I saw. K was in tears and looking scared. She did not want to come back inside the class. All she wanted? It was to talk to her birth mom.
The moment the counselor was out of sight, K took off running down the hallway and around. thecorner. I couldn’t leave my class of 18 other kindergarteners alone, so I informed my team lead, who had a walkie-talkie and was able to let the administration know what was going on. They found K and brought her back and got her in the room.
I told K that it was snack time and she still didn’t want to be there. The administration left and I sat down on the floor with K. I had a rice crispy treat for her, since I always had a snack on hand for those that didn’t bring one. I asked her what was going on and she looked up at me with sad little eyes and said, “I just want to talk to my mom.”
“I don’t want her to forget about me and my brother and sister.” My heart just about broke. This poor little five-year-old just wanted her mom. I patted her on the back and told her, “Your mom is not going to forget about you or your siblings. She probably thinks about you every day.” K was still crying so I asked her if she needed a hug.
She nodded and leaned towards me for a hug. I also told her, “My class is always going to be a safe place for you.” I truly hope that whatever caused CPS to become involved gets fixed, for the sake of K and her siblings. This is part of why I wanted to be a teacher, to make a difference in my students’ lives, and I hope that I made K’s day just a little easier.
35. Calculated Excitement
I teach Algebra and Geometry to ninth and tenth graders. As the end of semester tests approach, we have all been constantly overwhelmed with data and intervention plans and just generally making everyone stressed. During my fifth period today, I basically snapped and decided we were going to stop re-teaching the same multiple-choice strategies.
The students know them by heart, so instead they got a math meme competition. The kids loved the idea and had some really creative and awesome submissions. Immediately, I went full tilt and started copying up flyers for a school-wide math meme competition. When I was walking around with my over-the-top meme competition flyers, my Assistant Principal saw what I was carrying.
They then asked to check what we were working on. Needless to say, my first thought was to worry about being chastised for taking time/resources away from test prep. But no! The AP absolutely loved the idea. They immediately asked me to post the flyers around the hallways and offered their personal stash of colored copy paper, worth its weight in gold, to make more copies.
And now the student winners will have their memes printed in our school newspaper and on the home page of our school website. I was also encouraged to keep the activity running every grading period so more students get to have their work published. The reaction took me totally by surprise and really turned my day around.
And it was amazing how taking five to ten minutes of each class to joke about memes and have a good time completely changed the students’ attitude to the test-prep and lectures for the rest of class. I now have over 100 students excited to start submitting memes next week, and several teachers copying the idea for their classes with the full support from our admin team.
36. Do As I Please
At the time this happened, I was in pre-K and my brother was in first grade. My brother was always a silly guy, and he liked to make funny faces, put his hair up, and make it crazy. From what I can remember, I was always crazy. Now, one day he was at school when his teacher called him up to her desk and proceeded to ask, “Why are you so crazy?”
My puzzled brother starts to ask, “What do you…” The teacher interrupts him, screaming, “Why are you always acting so stupid with that terrible hair?” Now, even as a kid, my brother knew something not-right had happened. So, when my brother got home, he told mom as much. Her subsequent conversation with the teacher went like this.
My mom said, “Hey, my son told me you cursed at him, is this true?” The teacher promptly replied, “Yeah, his hair was crazy and he deserved it.” My mom then told the teacher, “You know that he has ADHD, right? We didn’t make him take his pills to see how this would go. You didn’t have to yell at him, you could’ve told me!”
The teacher flippantly said, “Well, I do what I want.” Clearly, there was no point in talking to the teacher. My mom left and my brother pushed through the school year somehow.
37. A Family Feeling
I’m a 27-year-old man in my fifth year of being a special education paraeducator at a Title One elementary school. Every year, a large portion of my time is spent supporting one particular boy, we’ll call him Tommy, and other SPED kids in his grade level. They were in the first grade when I started and they’re in the fifth now.
I have since developed relationships with quite a few students in these classes despite them not being my focus in the classroom. I’ve just been a consistent presence in their classrooms and on the playground for so many years. One of these students is a girl that we’ll call Emma. Emma lives with her grandmother. Her father is behind bars and she doesn’t even remember her mother.
She is an exceptionally kind girl who is also very sensitive and struggles with anxiety. She’s been in Tommy’s class for a few years, so I’ve been around her quite a bit, and she often follows me around, talking to me during recess. Last week, I was sitting in the back of the classroom helping Tommy with an assignment when Emma came up and handed me a folded-up note. It’s contents were heartbreaking.
One thing she wrote in it was that I “feel like a dad to her.” I had to fight back a few tears. I feel like I’m pretty good at connecting with the kids, but I’ve never had a student tell me that. Also, knowing that a father figure is missing from her life, the note also broke my heart a bit.
38. Coming Up Short
I got a phone call from my admin yesterday and they asked, “Hey, do we have a copy of your transcripts?” I said that they didn’t and that they just had a copy of my two diplomas and my teaching certificate. Her next words made the blood drain from my face. She went, “Oh, well, we need your transcripts because it updated in the system today and it says you aren’t qualified to teach pre-K with what you have here.”
She continued, “And we need your transcripts by Monday or you are going to drop down to 16k a year and lose your lead teaching position.” I couldn’t believe it because first, you are calling to tell me this at 5 pm on a Friday. How in the world am I going to get those by Monday? And second, I told you exactly the qualifications that I had when you hired me.
If I wasn’t qualified for this position then why would you have hired me? And now it’s September and all of the good teaching positions are filled. If you hadn’t hired me for this, I would have gotten a job in the regular school system, and, now, I can’t! I also looked it up and, clearly, not qualified. I could take a simple GACE test to qualify but that’s not the point!
I even contacted a contract and labor lawyer and he told me that because we both wrongly thought I was qualified it constitutes a “shared mistake,” and the contract is null and void, meaning I’m not entitled to sue or get the remaining money from my contract.
39. Troubled Soul
This morning, a kid had an absolute meltdown when she looked into the classroom. We found out that it was because she saw this one boy was here and he had been tormenting and harrassing her. It got so bad that we literally had to pry her fingers away from the door jamb. After we calmed her down, I moved her away from him. Then I found out even more.
I discovered that he had been bothering her every single day, doing a lot of stuff behind our back, etc. We noticed a bit of it a few weeks ago and had a conversation with him and his father, so I know it’s been going on at least that long. Obviously, the father was very upset so after he left, I called my admin down so I could tell her what was going on.
She acted like she was wondering why in the world I was bothering her with it. She just told me to move him away from her and then told me, “You can’t call it harassing another child at this age, they are too young.” I’m like, “Look, I’m just letting you know so that when he comes back yelling later you aren’t blindsided.” Not that they paid any attention.
40. In A Manner Of Speaking
I worked in a tutoring center in California for over a decade. There was a kindergartner who I would tutor in math for a couple of hours a week. And he was a nightmare most of the time. Things finally came to a head. During one session, he started purposefully kicking me under the table—hard, so hard that he left bruises.
Once confronted, he had the audacity to declare that he hadn’t kicked me; rather, I had run my leg into his foot. My leg that was stationary and planted on the ground. I told my boss we needed a meeting with the kid and his mom. So, in the said session, the mom tries to get him to apologize for kicking me. He refuses and asserts, yet again, that I ran my leg into his foot.
Boss sends him to the lobby and we face the mom. It took a turn for the worse. She starts making excuses about how he fidgets and it was probably just an accident, so on and so forth. I told her that it wasn’t just the kicking—her son was rude and disrespectful and didn’t have the most basic of manners that even a five-year-old can manage. Then came the kicker.
She dropped the question, “Well, why aren’t you teaching him manners?” Seriously? I picked up a piece of paper and quickly broke down how many hours per week her son was under my guidance versus when he was not. The ratio turned out to be something like 1:45. I finished off with, “You’re in charge of your son 45 times more than I am, and you want me to teach him basic manners?”
“No. I was hired to teach him math. And there’s the little fact that I am not his mother. You are.” She looked at the paper, at me, at my boss, and at the paper again, her face growing purple. Then the truth came out. She blurted,“Why do all his teachers keep saying that?” She then swept out with her precious little boy and said she’d be calling corporate.
However, we talked to corporate before she could and sent them the CCTV of the sessions. When she tried to complain, they basically laughed her off the phone. In the meantime, I turned to my boss and said, “I probably should’ve handled that better.” He chuckled and said, “Nah, she’s a Karen. Good riddance.” So. Yeah. Entitled Karen wanted me to teach her gremlin not to be a gremlin. I used math to decline her request.
41. Naturally Inclined
So, I’m a freshman college student. I was homeschooled my whole life, so the transition from no homework to lots of homework, and only spelling tests to exams on everything was a rough one. Especially with the exams. I’m a nursing major, and I take Anatomy and Physiology. Last semester I had so far failed the first two A&P exams.
The way this class works is that we have a lecture three days a week and a lab once a week. My lab day was the day right after we took the second exam. I always got to the lab really early because my professor would let me in if I was there early and let me watch whatever they were doing, usually dissecting something.
So, I got there early, and my professor said she wanted to talk to me about the exam. She said that she knew I hadn’t done well, and asked what she could do to help. I said I wasn’t sure, so she suggested that maybe I could stay later in the lab, and we could either go over stuff for the next exam or for the lab exam. I ended up staying late that day, and also came around every day for a week before the lab exam.
Because of her help, I got somewhere in the 90s for that exam. She continued helping me, but at the end of the semester I was one point away from moving onto the second half of the class, so I’d have to retake it. At the beginning of this semester, she had an assignment where she wrote a welcome letter and we had to write a response.
She replied to my response, basically saying she really enjoyed working with me and was so glad that I decided to retake the class. She doesn’t teach my lab anymore, so I haven’t had much chance to talk to her. However, just before spring break, my lab professor had an open lab, and my other professor showed up and we talked a bit.
The other day, I had to take an exam for A&P. As my professor was handing out the exams, she stopped and said it was nice to see me back. She then came over to me and asked if I used the review sheet that she made for us. I said I didn’t even know about it, and she said that if I wanted to take it another time and study with the review sheet, I could.
I decided to take it yesterday anyway, and when I handed in my exam, she gave me the same offer. Then last night she texted me and said the grades weren’t in the system yet, but that I did a really good job on the exam. Even before this, she once said that she would love to work with me if she ever came back into the medical field and also that if I ever need a reference for a job in the future, to keep her in mind. I just love this professor and I wanted to get it all out.
42. Temperamental Tempest
We had a teacher who tried too hard to be the “quirky and interesting” teacher. It got so embarrasing. For example, every lesson he’d pretend to be something new, like a pirate or a jungle explorer, and try to get us to join in with the make-believe session. He would tell us to be quiet by either hissing like a snake, or using a megaphone or African tribal horn.
This combined with the fact that he had a ridiculously short temper made most of the class hate him. I wasn’t one of the dudes who hated him…until three events happened. The first one was when I accidentally left my coat on this rack meant for bags. To put it in context, when you entered the classroom there was a rack, and right at the very back there were coat hangers.
Our previous teacher wouldn’t care where we put our things, but this guy was adamant: the rack was strictly for bags and nothing else could go on it, and coats had to go on the hangers. I forgot one day and put my coat underneath my bag. When he found out, he went a bit crazy. Hr kept repeating, “What did I say about coats?” over and over again.
He got louder each time, as he grabbed my coat, shook it around, threw it on the floor and stormed off. I just thought “okay” and put the coat on a hanger. This was the end of this matter. Then came the second event. There were these speakers we made in class. This was actually a cool project. You got to make your own speakers and laser cut a design for them.
The only problem was, the speakers I was given were faulty and didn’t work. Okay, there was one other problem, namely the teacher refusing to believe me. Every lesson he would just ask me to do the same ten checks to see if the speakers were working, and when it was so very clear that the only thing that they were going to broadcast was static, he just blanked me out.
It wasn’t like the school was low on speakers, either. The guy had spares in a locked cupboard, but for some reason he didn’t want to give them to me. Long story short, I spent most of my lessons begging and loitering around until we moved on to a new project. Of course, my “speakers” ended up being a useless plastic brick. Then came the final straw.
The next incident happened because of a drawing. We had to design this pendant-like object in pairs, and both people in the pair had to do a sketch of their idea. I was with my friend, let’s call him N. N has a problem with his fingers so he can’t draw too well, but I’d say he did a great job drawing this dragon pendant.
Anyways, N accidentally left his sketch on a table and the teacher was asking whose it was. I figured I might as well take it and give it to him. But as soon as I say it’s mine, the teacher asks everyone to come over and listen. He then starts interrogating me, starting by asking how old I was. I said that I was 14 and the teacher responded by saying, “What is this?” and flicked the sketch.
I said that it was from a myth. The guy repeated those two questions, and flick, over and over and over again, and I just gave the same two answers because I had no idea what was going on. After a while, he switches to blatant cruelty. He calls the sketch a “baby drawing” and then says my mental age is around 11 right now.
I’m just trying to hold in my laughter at this point. Then class ends and he lets everyone go to enjoy half term, besides me. He starts giving me this big, soppy speech about how “we’re going to draw this together” and how I can always ask my nice teacher for help. The club is always open so he can help people like me, etc.
The only thing I was thinking of was, “Bruh, my train is in 10 minutes, let me go already.” Well, I dropped the class the first chance I got. The teacher eventually got fired because he rugby-tackled a year seven student to the floor after the kid accidentally stepped on a piece of equipment or something like that. And that was the last I heard of the guy.
43. Mr. Hyde Makes An Appearance
In secondary school, I used to have this teacher, let’s call him Mr. H. At first he seemed great. He was my year seven DT teacher and I saw him as one of my favorite teachers. Everything was going hunky dory until Christmas. At the end of the Christmas half term my form tutor, MG, announced that she’d be leaving quite soon.
Now, I didn’t get a lot of time with MG as I barely ever saw her, but from what I can remember, she was nice enough. Who would replace her, though? In one of those classes, I remember sitting at the back when Mr H. announced he would become our new form tutor. The whole class was originally overjoyed at this announcement, but then things took a nosedive.
Later on in the year, I wasn’t necessarily his biggest fan. He had clear favorites in the class, and I was probably at the bottom of his ranking. My class wasn’t the best at behaving, and one day we were screaming and stamping down the stairs. Me and the boys weren’t involved, and just tried not to get caught up in the bad behavior.
Now our school was having stuff done to the roof and scaffolding was up in some places around the school. As I walked out, another kid grabbed onto my bag and tried to pull me over. Reflexes took over, so I grabbed a scaffolding pole so I wouldn’t fall. I must add, the scaffolding was very clearly safe, as builders walked and carried heavy stuff up there all day.
A teacher saw this, and was furious with me! The kid who pulled me got away scot-free. I was made to go to the head of year and, luckily, he actually realized the foolishness this was and let me go. That wasn’t even the end of it though. As he was my form tutor, Mr. H got wind of this, and eventually called me out for “dangerous behavior,” saying things like the scaffolding could tumble.
This was even though he knew about the other kid pulling me over. He refused to tell him off, though, and swept it under the rug. He threatened to email home and luckily never did, but he seemed to hold a super grudge against me ever since. A few months later, summer was over and I had had a few brushes with Mr. H, but overall stayed out of trouble.
That was until “BottleGate.” It was lunchtime and I was walking across school to get to a certain class block and I saw a massive crowd. I decided to investigate and lo and behold, a bunch of year 11s were standing there having a sort of competition. They were punting a bottle and seeing who could punt it the furthest.
Now I saw about 15 different year 11s kick it, and as I made my way for the art block, they started singing a football chant at me. It wasn’t mean or anything and I took it as a compliment as I looked like the football player they were chanting about. And this is where I get the gem of a prize. A year 11 asked if I wanted a go, and I accepted.
As I stepped back to kick it, they encouraged me and acted like I was one of their own. A medium-sized crowd gathered all around me and they started cheering. I saw a few teachers look at me and walk on, zero hoots given. I booted the bottle, with it going a decent distance as a large cheer erupted from the crowd. However, after this, Mr. H ran out looking angry as anything.
I don’t remember exactly what he said, but he seemed extremely ticked off. As he forced me to walk off, a few of the year 11s laughed and he said, “They are laughing at you, not with you!” Well, of course, they were, because he had just walked me off. He dumped me with the head of year and said that I should “stay there until dismissed.”
My head of year arrived and asked what I had done, so I told him. He seemed sort of confused as to why I was there and just told me to go. As I walked up to my form class, I looked in and saw Mr. H yelling and walking around angrily. My friends told me that he was saying how no one could trust year 11s and was ranting about me and how I could not behave.
My parents thought it was ridiculous. And it was. But I got the last laugh. His threats of action, such as detentions, never came about and I got off scot-free, though I certainly believe my head of year played a part in this. As word got around, I was the hot topic of the week in our year. Fist pumps were a-plenty and I enjoyed my five minutes of fame.
44. Critical Moment
This happened when I was about nine and in the third grade. It was around Halloween, and during class we had a lot of small Halloween art projects to do, like making ghosts and small decorations. You know the drill. Now, in my particular classroom we had our regular teacher, let’s call them teacher, and there was a student teacher, let’s call them Karen, as well.
The student-teacher Karen didn’t do much of the teaching at this time—I think she was early on in her program, so she mostly just supervised the classroom. For the most part up to this point, I liked her just fine. And me being me, I really wanted to impress her and be noticed. I was a quiet kid and was bullied quite a lot.
So, as a result, I didn’t really have any friends. I was very lonely. So, one day leading up to Halloween, we are given an assignment to take black construction paper as a background and use other color construction paper to cut out Halloween-type objects, like ghosts, pumpkins, etc., to make a haunted house picture out of the cutouts.
Just to give you an idea of the setting, in my school, there was a hallway that everyone traveled through daily to get from one side of the school to the other. So, sometimes exceptional work would be hung there to be seen by the other members of the school—a kind of bragging wall if you will. We were told that if we did really well, some of our pictures would be hung in this hallway.
I was super excited. Here was a chance for me to stand out as something other than a “loser.” For background, I never understood and I still don’t know why I was singled out by my entire grade. My family didn’t have a lot of money so I never got to wear “cool” clothes or anything, but I didn’t look poor or anything. I was well cleaned and kept.
But for some reason, I lost in the friend lottery. This continued to happen till about the seventh grade where I finally met some nicer kids and have been friends with them ever since. Anyways, I go to work making my project. Karen walks around the classroom looking at everyone’s art and admiring their work. She gives pointers and generally makes the other kids feel good about their work.
Eventually, Karen goes to sit at her desk and students bring up their finished work for her to see. I’m working hard and have made what I thought was a cool house with lots of ghosts, pumpkins, bats, a full moon—well, at least according to what the little third grade me could do. Eventually, I get it to where I want the work to be, and nervously bring it up to the student teacher to see.
I was so excited to find out what she would say about mine. My desk was actually in front of hers, so I had heard all the nice comments she made to the other kids. She ended up crushing me. I hand her my work, and she gives this critique: “Hmmm. I have to say that if I were to select this one to hang in the hallway, I would be completely embarrassed to have this represent our class.”
Yeah, I was crushed. I sadly took my picture back, nodded my head, sat down in my seat, and cried. I was heartbroken. I had worked so hard, and she thought it was terrible. Teacher then came up to me and asked me what was wrong. She asked me if it was something Karen had said. But me, for some reason and being a real pushover and not wanting to get her in trouble, I said no and continued to cry, but more quietly. Sadly, this has no happy ending.
It was from this moment that I believed I couldn’t draw or do any art and completely gave up on it. I look back and wish I had said something or stood up for myself. But I was such a lonely and sad kid, I guess I wanted to do anything to feel accepted. I’m better now. I still have no art skills because I never worked on them again. But, I think, because of my experience I have learned how to, hopefully, raise my son to be a stronger person than I was.
45. Being Kind
I’m an 18-year-old woman doing a college program that helps me get used to life on a college campus and a work environment. Last year when I was a senior in high school, I developed an extremely positive relationship with my American Literature teacher, we’ll call her Miss Mariano, and I loved having her as a teacher.
She was a very cool teacher and always made me laugh. While I’ve been continuing to develop positive relationships with the teachers I have now, Miss Mariano was and is the most memorable teacher I met and had in high school. She was always trying to the best of her ability to help me with some assignments for her class that I was struggling with.
She was also very patient with me when she asked me questions and had to wait for me to respond, because it would take me a few minutes to respond to questions I was being asked. She remains my favorite teacher from high school and I’d like to think I was her favorite student. I had warmed up to her pretty well and had gotten used to talking to her after some time.
We loved talking to each other. Sometime either on or around my birthday that year, I developed a crush on her and wanted to do everything I could to make her proud of me. I had started going into school four days a week around the middle of January, because it was too hard for me to be online for school for three days a week and physically in school two days a week.
Going into school four days a week made it easier for me to make the relationships with all my teachers, specifically Miss Mariano, stronger and more positive. In early May 2021, I got a new haircut and I had turned 18 about three and a half months before getting it. At the end of the day on Tuesday, May 11, when my classmate and I were waiting to leave to go home, Miss Mariano came in because we had our period 6 class in her classroom.
She went to her desk and before she sat down, she said that my haircut was cute. On Monday, May 17, I got to school early and walked around a little bit. I was wearing a new hat I had gotten when I had gone on vacation that weekend and as I walked around, I saw that the door to Miss Mariano’s classroom was open so I stood there for a bit.
Then she came down the hallway, said “hi” to me, then asked me if the hat was new and if I had gotten it when I was on vacation. I said yes to both the questions, and she said it was cute. I didn’t think much of these two comments from Miss Mariano because, realistically, she was just being nice and complimenting me on my haircut and my outfits.
As May continued, from that point on and into June, I would constantly make Miss Mariano’s day by stopping by her class before, during, and after school. I gave her lots of gifts and showed her things I made for her with apps on my phone as the year was coming to an end. Miss Mariano thought that those things were sweet of me to do. I wrote her a letter and gave it to her.
One thing that I wrote in my letter to her was, “You’re such an incredibly awesome teacher and I can’t emphasize that enough.” I also gave her a picture I drew of our class, a handmade card, and chocolates. She knew I was very thoughtful and appreciative of her. On Tuesday, June 8, I stopped by the gym to pick up my senior yearbook at 7:30 AM.
At the end of the day when I was leaving, I stopped by Miss Mariano’s classroom and had her sign my yearbook. I knew she loved having me as a student because she wrote this in my yearbook, “I’d love to have you as a student again! I’ll miss your laugh and chats. Don’t forget about me :)” and I fought back some tears when I read those last three sentences because they made me think she is sweet too.
On Tuesday, June 15, when I got home from school, I emailed Miss Mariano because I wanted to talk to her about something in school that day and the day before but kept forgetting to talk to her about it. I told her about how I had mixed feelings about graduating from high school, and she told me that it was a huge change and that she understood my concern about it.
She also told me that the teachers and high school aren’t going anywhere and they’ll always be there to visit and I agreed with her. On Wednesday, June 16, after my graduation rehearsal, I went to Miss Mariano’s classroom and we talked for a bit and I was happy I had gotten to see her one more time before I graduated.
I will always remember Miss Mariano for a long time to come because she was such an unforgettable teacher that I absolutely loved having.
46. The Procyonid Affair
What follows is a 100% true account of last Monday morning. I sent it to my mother, also employed in education, sometime around noon as I barricaded myself in the library, contemplating the absurdity of it all. That Monday started the last week of regular ACT Aspire sessions. The sixth grade was slated to test that day. Until things took a dark, sharp turn.
One of the staff members was relieving the sixth-grade teacher so that the teacher could retrieve the test tickets. The staff member sat at the desk, and a raccoon fell from the ceiling and onto her head before scurrying around the room. Cue the mass pandemonium. Said staff member, in the blink of an eye, transformed into Flo-Jo.
She left the children in her wake. The most recent former principal, now employed in a district-level position, shouted into the classroom for the children to climb onto the desks and tables. Instead, the children ran from the room screaming. The music teacher bolted down the hallway, believing that there was a fight that needed breaking up.
Upon hearing that there was a wild animal loose, he made a U-turn without breaking stride or losing speed at all and returned to the cafeteria. The art teacher believed that she could take the raccoon. She entered the room and managed to pin it. But our furry friend was equally stubborn and would not submit to her scorn. It got violent in the blink of an eye.
The art teacher was bitten or scratched in the process and was sent to the ER. Bizarrely, this was the fifth or sixth time she has been bitten by a raccoon. The classroom was locked until pest control was able to get here. They managed to cage the creature. As they were walking down the hallway, however, the raccoon unlatched the cage and is now loose in the building. Again.
We were on code yellow lockdown as they tried to corral the animal. The raccoon made its way into the nurse’s station and took up residence there briefly. The city animal control came and took it away without much incident after.
47. Dolores Umbridge Meets Regina George
I had a teacher in the 8th grade who was quite a character. She was 5-foot nothing, skin and bones, from the Bronx, and was absolutely venomous to students she didn’t like. She also had hair like Corbin Bleu from High School Musical, but like two and a half times bigger. She lives in a house that’s built into a hill, completely underground, and the pictures of it looked like The Shire, I kid you not.
The most interesting thing about her, though, was the aforementioned venom I spoke of. We soon found out just how bitter she was. At the end of the school year, the administration found out she had a “Burn Book”, like from Mean Girls, of all of her students. I know what you’re thinking that it was maybe just for future teachers to be made aware of problem students. Nope.
I promise you it was not that professional. It was a book that trashed students with such intensity that it actually got her fired in the end. Turns out, she was not only cursing out and using slurs in these pages, but she was sending them to other teachers in order to make sure that the students would struggle in high school.
A lot of these kids weren’t even bad students, they just rubbed her the wrong way. A few months later, she was confronted by a few students at a 4th of July fireworks show at one of the schools, and she got angry, tried to leave, and hit someone with her car because they wouldn’t get out of the way. I assume she just went back to living underground in her semblance of The Shire.
48. A Different Distraction
A friend who teaches in Wisconsin teaches second grade and has been telling us about how her 7-8-year-old students have been getting their first smartphones. She also has been telling us how it’s an obvious distraction to the class. It is also her opinion that her students are too young to have access to smartphones at all.
If she sees a student using one, she asks them to put it on her desk until class is over. The other day, she had taken two phones away and was frustrated after a long week when in the middle of a lesson, she saw a little boy with his head down and hands under the desk. She stopped the lesson, marched over to the boy’s desk, stuck her hand out, and loudly said “Enough with all of the phones!” She got more than she bargained for.
The boy looked up unsurprised, and instead of a phone, he was reading a copy of A Wrinkle in Time. She told him to put the book away until after class, and once the class was done, he walked up to her desk and said “I’m a really good multitasker, I can listen to you and read at the same time, so can I keep reading?” She laughed and said reading was for after class or the library or free time. Turns out, not all kids are glued to their phones.
49. A Taste Of Their Own Medicine
I spent about 10 years teaching high school humanities at a small private school. For my first two years, I didn’t have a classroom, just a small office. I would bring what I needed for each class on a cart and go from room to room, depending on which teacher had a prep at any given time. This was incredibly inconvenient.
Also, not being the most organized of teachers to begin with, it also made things difficult to keep track of. There was a group of 11th grade boys who decided to make things a little more difficult for me. They were good kids, we got along well, I coached several of them on the school soccer team, but they decided that since my office would often be empty, it was a great place to prank.
It was never anything too serious, such as things falling over when I opened the door, or things disappearing for a day and then turning up in a different place the next day. Nothing was ever damaged, and I could never prove who was behind these things, even though I knew. Of note: My school had mandatory final exams in each academic course.
I didn’t really think that they were necessary, so I would generally make them pretty easy with a lot of preparation. I would give out study sheets and play review games for a couple of weeks before the test, and there was no reason the students wouldn’t do well on them. I had the approval of admin to do this as they weren’t particularly fond of the final exam rule either.
It was there as only school board policy. A few nights before the offending boys had their exam, I had a brilliant brainwave. I created a second exam. Gone were the multiple-choice questions and the obvious things from the review sheets. In their place came detailed questions about concepts that were briefly mentioned in class.
Essay question after essay question. Ambiguous questions with no clear answers. Definitions of words that there was no way they knew. It took a couple of hours, but I laughed the whole time while making them. When the test came, I had the special exams at the bottom of the pile and handed them out to each of the four or five boys.
I told my vice-principal what was happening, and his reply surprised me. He insisted on being present. I started the timer and watched as the boys flipped over their papers. It was all I could do to keep a straight face. Eyes went wide. Heads were shaking. Panic was setting in, especially as they saw all their classmates flying through their exams. One of the boys raised their hand.
I headed him off by saying, “Sorry, no questions during the final. You should be prepared based on your study sheets.” I let them go for about five or ten minutes of terror before I gathered the fake tests and gave them the real ones. They all passed with flying colors and never pranked my office again. It was glorious.
50. Coming Full Circle
Every school has “That Parent.” The one who complains about everything. The one who calls downtown. The one who wants special exceptions. The one who is so bad that everyone cringes when they see them. You get the idea. This morning I had to brave Wally World to get a few things. Guess who I see there? Actually, I hear her first.
After 10 years and three kids, her voice is now the stuff of nightmares. In typical fashion, she is complaining to the manager. You see there is a limit on certain products and she was not happy. In her opinion, how dare they tell her what she’s allowed to purchase? How dare they deny her six kids—remember that she actually had three—food?
Also, how dare they deny her disabled child—this was also a lie—an extra gallon of milk? But she got what was coming to her. See, the problem is that it is a small town. We all know each other. At this point, the manager is rolling her eyes so hard I am waiting for them to pop out. The manager, admirably keeping her cool, repeats the “limit” for each item several times.
That parent isn’t stopping though. Nope. That would be too easy. Finally, the manager sighs and says, “Enough! If you can’t follow the law set in effect by the government then maybe you should shop elsewhere. I don’t have time to keep repeating myself!” The parent looks like she has been slapped, then suddenly grabs the manager and growls! For real people, she growled!
Well, the manager’s last statement was loud enough that the guard who was stationed there was on his way over already and saw the entire thing. Guess who got a free ride in an official car? The manager had been very professional and did a great job. I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with the crazy anymore.