Teachers often have a tough time getting students to pay attention. Kids love to push boundaries, and sometimes they love to push adults to the breaking point. But there are a few teachers who have a natural gift for commanding the esteem of their pupils. Sometimes they do so through acts of empathy, but also with sagely advice, courage, or an unwavering sense of humor. Read on to learn about how these teachers earned a special place in their students’ hearts…
1. Personal Touch
I went to a small charter school for middle school. Our English/literature teacher was brand new to teaching, if I remember correctly she was only 22 which seemed old at the time. She always did her best to be so cheerful and make learning fun. But the thing that truly solidified her spot as my favorite teacher was that for every student’s birthday she would give you a personalized mini-notebook.
It was just a simple small composition notebook but she had filled the first couple pages telling me how much she loved having me as a student, how far she knew I would go, and other affirmations. It seems small but as a 13-year-old who had a crappy home life it made all the difference in how I acted the rest of the year.
2. School Of Rock
I had a teacher in elementary school who was prone to outbursts. He had a short fuse, at least compared to every other adult I knew at the time. For instance, when several of us in class weren’t listening he’d throw a piece of chalk against the wall to get our attention. Honestly, we just thought he was crazy.
A year or maybe two years later, the school had a talent show. Like a big one, in the gym, in front of everyone. One of my classmates was really into music and wanted to play a drum solo. Our teacher had mentioned off-hand that he used to be in a band and played drums, so my classmate asked him (sort of dared, like kids often do with adults) to play a solo in front of the school. And he did. He rocked it.
But that’s not what made me respect him. Turns out the band he played for was a very successful, and at the time quite popular, rock band. He left just before they became popular, because he wanted to be a teacher. He chose teaching kids over the chance at fame and fortune, and didn’t regret it. Recently, I decided to look him up and he’s still a teacher, and doing very well. Made me smile.
3. Throw Away The Textbook
I want to give a shout-out to this old teacher of mine. She was our AP English Language teacher for our senior year of high school. On one of the first days in her class, she explained how she went from being a kindergarten teacher to a high school senior teacher. She always saw off her cute and happy kindergarten kids, and as they grew up they often came back to visit her.
A lot of them came to her troubled and dissatisfied with their lives. It made her real emotional about how people had treated these kids she loved so much, how she couldn’t afford to see kids so disconnected with life, and how she didn’t want them to suffer as they headed out towards college and their adult lives. So she changed curriculums and started preparing them for the real world. I respect her tremendously and she’ll always be one of my favorites. Truly like a mother to all her students.
4. School Olympics
I had a physical education teacher who organized basketball, volleyball, handball, and football tournaments, organized “Olympic Games” for the local kids, and taught us dancing on weekends. On his own. Just for us kids, because we lived in a remote place without many activities and things going on. He was more than a simple teacher.
5. There Is Such A Thing As A Free Lunch
When I was a kid we had to purchase these red punch cards to get lunch at school. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that much money so there were times where my punch card would run out and I wasn’t able to eat for a while until we got enough money to repurchase another one (why nobody in my family applied for assistance was beyond me). I had one teacher who noticed I wasn’t eating every day and she would bring an extra sandwich and offer it to me whenever she saw that. As a child, I really didn’t understand how kind that was. That was such an amazing gesture of kindness.
6. Buy The Book
I remember my fifth-grade teacher had every student circle one book from the Scholastic book fair flyer. When the day came for the fair if you didn’t go to the library to purchase that book for yourself, she would buy it with her own money to make sure every student got to take a book home. I wouldn’t have had any books of my own if it weren’t for her.
7. One Teacher’s Trash…
My fourth-grade teacher would have a “classroom yard sale” every year after she did her annual spring cleaning. Her daughter was about 13, so the things she’d recently outgrown would be age-appropriate for us. (I’m aware this wouldn’t work out every year, and I’m not sure how long she taught at our school but she told us it was a regular thing).
We didn’t have to pay for them. If we needed or wanted something, we could have it. There was some sort of lesson incorporated into the yard sale…how to trade or value money or something like that…so we didn’t feel embarrassed if we needed a few more things than the other kids did. I wish I could remember exactly how it worked, but this happened in 1994. She was an all-around great teacher. Thanks, Miss Ferrell, whose name I’ve probably misspelled. Your class was fun.
8. Jack Of All Trades
My biology teacher is an old man who collects dead animals on his way to work and then shoves them to students’ faces during class if they don’t concentrate. He also likes to take the class outside to look at plants and sometimes he gives us berries/dried mushrooms he’s foraged from the woods. Dude also knows five languages and has a ton of knowledge on things like linguistics, theology, philosophy you name it, he can tell you something about it you didn’t know before.
It’s pretty wild and probably unacceptable in many places, but also low key hilarious and keeps the class super interesting.
My first English teacher in grade school. She used to teach us so playfully that learning a foreign language somehow became a game for us. “Okay kids, beach means a place bordering with a sea or an ocean, if you’re good enough I’ll teach you a similar rude word by the end of the lesson.” So when she finished, I piped in: “Sorry ma’am, what was the rude word you said you’d teach us?” To which she replied “Me? Saying rude words? Don’t be silly honey. Bye kids!”
10. Is This A Trick?
I had a professor once state that she doesn’t believe in trick questions. Students trick themselves up enough without the professor helping that along. She never did put trick questions.
11. Not Buying It
It was a professor, but she said she wasn’t going to have a textbook for the class. Basically, she didn’t respect the textbook representatives trying to take the pharma approach to force kids to buy a $170 access code. Instant respect. You just had to show up to the lectures and she’d teach you what you needed to know.
12. You May Have A Point
Junior year of high school, English class. We were discussing a story we had read. One student (let’s call him Carl) made a point. The teacher was dismissive and basically said Carl was wrong. It was pretty harsh—but what happened next has always stuck with me. The next day, after we took our seats the teacher said, “Before we begin, I was thinking about what Carl said yesterday. I was wrong to dismiss it so quickly. Let’s take a look at that again.”
He then went on to repeat Carl’s point and initiate a conversation with the entire class. After the conversation, it became apparent Carl’s point was off base, but I was impressed the teacher publicly owned his mistake and went down the path he should have.
13. Don’t Patronize Me
Treated kids with autism and Aspergers like actual human beings. In my school, I was in a special needs unit for kids with Aspergers and autism called the CDU (communication disorder unit). The kids in there ranged from having mild Aspergers to full-on severe autism. As a result, most teachers treated everyone from there like they had severe mental health problems just because they were labeled as having autism or Aspergers even if it was very mild.
But there was one support teacher in the CDU who was genuinely just a nice dude, whether he was talking to kids who had severe autism or just some mild social anxiety he wouldn’t talk extra slowly or call you “bud” or “pal” at the end of a sentence. Instead, he would talk to everyone like they were real human beings. It might seem like a small thing but when that’s how pretty much all teachers talked to you and treated you in every class.
It was very refreshing to talk to someone who would talk to you based on who you were as a person rather than treating someone differently for being labeled as autistic.
14. Problem-Solving Skills
It’s math class, we’re looking at the programming function of a graphing calculator. I tell him that finding the surface area of a regular polygon is incredibly tedious. So, we spend the next fifteen minutes writing out a program on the calculator to do the math for me. He was the only math teacher I knew that genuinely understood that you cannot write a program to solve a math problem if you don’t know how to solve it yourself.
15. What’s In A Name?
I had a teacher who liked to joke with his students a lot. Great guy. If you had an unusual name and he knew you were okay with it, he’d make a joke about it. Someone asked him one day why he never jokes about his name and he just goes cold-faced and says bluntly, “Because it isn’t funny.” His name is Mr. Pedoe.
16. Size Matters Not
Back in university, one of my profs was a woman with the last name Wolfe. Since she never bothered to finish her Ph.D. her official title was Mistress Wolfe. For some reason, she didn’t think it was appropriate. Of course, she was also the one who, when explaining the metric prefixes, said, “The only thing that matters is the size of your unit.”
17. Chalk It Up To Good Teaching
I had a high school Chem teacher who bet us all $100 that if we passed his class we would pass our first college chem class. He was just really awesome all around—he told stories about traveling the world over breaks, got absurdly off-topic to teach us random stuff, had a physics lab where we got to throw eggs at him, and occasionally we had a class where absolutely nothing got done because we were having a discussion.
He used to give out quarters for correcting him, or for anything done really well. He put up posters about his trips and gave us extra credit quizzes about them because he said being observant was really important in chemistry. I’ll never forget the really weird activities in that class. One time he ate chalk to prove to us that it was the same stuff as in milk.
He was brilliant, hilarious, and just a really incredible human being.
18. Chillaxed To The Max
I had an awesome teacher once. He would let us be who we were, listen to our iPod in class, and encouraged us to think outside “the class.” I gained respect for him when he saw some kids going to skip and he called them into his class. Told them, “If you’re gonna skip class then come to my class and do whatever you want in the back. Rather have you inside the school than outside.” Everyone loved that teacher while the other teachers couldn’t stand him. He had everyone’s respect.
19. Honesty Is The Best Policy
English teacher in high school asked where my homework was. Responded “I forgot to do it,” and he said to the rest of the class “Why can’t you guys be like Scratch_That_? He doesn’t come up with some excuse he just tells me he didn’t do it.”
20. Fair Is Fair
Had an extremely zany teacher who taught Psychology, and had the last name Ward. Psycho personality (in the best way possible) to fit her name and job. Never met someone who fit their name and job description so well (Worse, she taught driver’s ed too, on the side). She was the type whose zany personality was a big plus; most of her kids loved her, but if you messed around in her class, she’d eject you from it, with extreme prejudice. She still teaches, and she teaches very well.
As an aside, there was also this middle-aged woman who was basically a hall monitor and filled in any other position she could think of, as well as handing out detentions or suspensions if she caught you effing around instead of being where you ought to be. Small lady, absolutely no-nonsense and tough as nails. She wouldn’t tolerate misbehavior from you, but also incredibly fair overall.
I soon realized she knew when to bend. My older two siblings hated her because she always caught them skipping class or worse. I got along with her very well and never caused her any trouble. I asked her once about my little brother, and she said he was a good kid and while she’d had to give him detention a few times, she was also proud of him because when he got into a fight, he did it for the right reasons.
My little bro’s a very tall, hulking guy and never hesitated to defend someone from being picked on. It got him a few detentions for fighting but apparently, she made it clear she was proud of him for standing up for others nonetheless. I repeated this later to my brother, and he said she was a very good woman, very fair, and that he’d liked her for that fairness, and her sheer guts.
21. Pink Elephants On Parade
Instead of shouting at my loud class for not shutting up before the lesson began, my history teacher decided to quietly tell the story of a pink elephant that wanted to be an astronaut. After a few seconds, people started to shut up and listen about the pink elephant. When everyone was quiet and listening, he stopped mid-story.
As much as it made me respect him… WHY DIDN’T YOU FINISH THE STORY! THAT CLIFFHANGER!
22. Bonus Point
I’m epileptic and had a large set of seizures not long before finals in high school chemistry. My seizures tend to mess with my memory, and those multiple seizures had devastated my memory of everything I’d learned in class that semester. I was doing reasonably well in class but absolutely failed the test. After the failed test I ended up just shy of passing the class and he decided to give me a bonus question that passed me. I didn’t expect that, but the empathy was nice to see from a teacher. Even still, the whole situation sucked.
23. Full Marks
Second-year of college and my mum received a cancer diagnosis. It was a wild ride. As a chick who never even boiled water before, somehow I was adjusting to managing everything at home, taking care of mum, taking care of my assignments, and whatnot. I used to get late almost daily. Completed assignments by staying up all night which made me sleep in lectures the next day. One day, a professor called me to her cabin.
Was totally expecting her to be angry, but she hands me my assignment (I scored full marks) and says, “I don’t have a daughter but if I had one I’d wish to have one just like you.”.
24. Make Good Choices
We had a pretty cool teacher in fifth grade. He was cool, made jokes, made lessons fun but at the same time, didn’t take sass. We had these REALLY naughty boys in our class, like they pulled pranks, skipped class, tormented other kids, never turned in assignments or projects. One day they did something really bad (don’t remember exactly what it was).
But it made our teacher REALLY REALLY MAD. I was like, this is it, we are all about to be a bunch of witnesses. I thought he was about to put hands on these kids. This man was livid. He called the main instigator to the front of the class, and just stared at him for what seemed like forever. And this kid was just like, not bothered, had an attitude. But he never expected what was coming.
This teacher starts talking, cool and calm, lecturing this kid about all the bad choices he’s making, about how he needs to think about if those choices are going to get him anywhere in life, stuff like that. He brought that kid to tears. This kid, who thought he was oh so cool, untouchable, will never have to face the music kind of kid. He stood there in tears.
The teacher wasn’t rude or disrespectful, he didn’t hit the kid or scream and shout at the kid. Simply spoke to him about making better choices. Teacher said the “lecture” was a lesson to all of us. I just think it was so cool the way the teacher handled it. Spoke to him (all of us) in a way that made us think about our future for the first time. Make good choices.
25. Joke’s On You!
In my first year of high school, my class decided to play a simple prank on our English/SOSE teacher, by all laughing when he faced the board, and then stopping every time he turned around to face us. After a few minutes of this, he just left the classroom without a word. We all sat there, confused, until a few minutes later the assistant principal comes in and explains that we’ve really upset our teacher; he made us believe we’d seriously screwed up. Then our teacher walked in and pretty much went “gotcha!”
That guy had our respect from then on.
26. If You Want The Bull, You’ll Get The Horns
Not take my sass. I was a pretty decent writer in school; able to pop stuff out pretty quickly that was superficial but sounded good. The first time I had a teacher hand my work back pointing out that I managed to compellingly fail to say anything was sort of a slap in the face that I didn’t realize I needed.
27. Blame Game
I was the laughingstock of my class, and I had a teacher that was absolutely awesome. Once he left the classroom to go grab some copies. A male classmate went up to the board and proceeded to draw a naked woman on it. He announced to the class, “I’m gonna say (my name) did it!” I just sat there and continued to copy down the fill-in-the-blank worksheet.
The moment my teacher returned, the boy dramatically stood up, pointed to the whiteboard, and yelled “(my name) DID IT!!” The teacher rolled his eyes and said, “First off, her signature on it is in your handwriting, and secondly, I know (my name) would never do that.” It was awesome seeing this jerk completely destroyed by our school’s chill teacher.
28. Lost And Found
A supply teacher spent the day recovering my lost sticker collection. I’m sure it’s done in other countries but in UK primary/junior schools, playtime becomes a trading hub on the playground for stickers. Anyway, one particular day I made a massive haul of stickers which I misplaced for a split second and it was gone.
I felt devastated and when my supply teacher saw me in distress when I got back from class, she promised she would get them all back for me. True to her word, she did. In fact, it turned out several people had made off with my stash of stickers and she spent her lunchtime tracking down every one of the children who had them.
She claimed each of them back and grilled the kids in turn to who else had my cards and getting them to see her. By the end of lunch, she returned them to me all accounted for. For a supply teacher to do this, it was a seriously kind gesture as most teachers would shrug their shoulders and carry on as if nothing happened.
That supply teacher was an absolute legend. We had her for a few weeks and she made learning really fun: She came up with a picture of Robin Hood, and each limb or part of the body had a reward on it. Small stuff like 10 minutes of playtime for example. Bigger parts meant bigger rewards. As the students did well (good marks, good behavior, etc), they got stickers and they could stick them on the picture.
It was a class effort as you all worked towards the prizes. For our young minds, this was amazing as we never had that kind of incentive. Also, there was a student of the day award. The MVP of the class and she would announce it at the end of the day in front of the class so that YOU knew that you were the MVP and EVERYONE else knew it and how you earned it.
She even had a dedicated corner of the chalkboard for your name. Again as a kid, it just blew your mind and you got perks like getting to sit on the chairs instead of the floor. And of course: Stickers. Yeah, I cried when I saw her go. When she got those stickers back, I was absolutely compelled that night to write her a thank you message and got my parents to sign it.
29. Practice What You Preach
I had a professor who made it crystal clear that if we ever made an appointment and didn’t show up, he’d take five points off of our final grade. I tried to find him during office hours and he wasn’t available. I told him that I deserved an extra five points because he wasn’t available when he said he would be and he gave it to me in the interest of fairness.
There was a girl in my class who was an experienced free climber who was near the corner of the building, running slightly late for class when she saw the professor walking up the steps to the entrance. The prof saw her, grinned, and walked in—if you got to class after the professor did, you’d receive a late mark.
As it turns out, though, the building was Georgian. Brick façade with limestone corner blocks…all deeply pointed. Lots of handholds/fingerholds. So she goes up the side of the building. The classroom has open windows, so she lets herself in, much to the astonishment of her classmates. She manages to be in her seat just as the professor walks in. He sees her and looks absolutely stunned. He’s just starting to say, “How…” Then a security guard rushes in, points at the girl, and says, “THERE you are! Stop DOING that!”
31. Impressive Empathy
I had a principal in a new school I hadn’t met yet because the first day of school at my new high school was my dad’s funeral. He had no idea what I looked like, but he sought me out in the really crowded hallways and gave me a hug and his condolences. Never felt creepy, only like he really cared. He went onto local politics and became our mayor. Only time I have truly voted for the best person for the job and not the least objectionable.
Mr. Peary, if you see this, you earned my instant respect and kept it with your further actions. We need more like you.
32. Just A Bad Day…
I remember my first math class in college. I didn’t take any math my senior year of high school because I finished my math requirements my junior year. Anyway, the first math test hit me like a truck after never having to try in high school. I scored in the low 60s. The next three tests, I learned to study and got three 98s in a row.
The last week of class, the professor (who was a really strict guy by the way and would kick you out for having your phone out) called me up to her desk after class and said clearly you were having a bad day that first exam, so don’t worry about that grade because I won’t count it. It really changed my view of that professor.
33. Think Happy Thoughts
My band director. He laughed with us, he talked to us like people instead of lowly teenage students. And he read to us: ”The Power of Positive Thinking.” He saw a need for it—some of the kids seemed bored out of their skulls and thought it was stupid, but some of us listened. Personally, I love that he recognized a problem and took action. I’ve been out of high school for wow..,30 years this year…I’m still in touch with him. He’s THE most influential person in my life that isn’t a relative and it’s because he chose to invest and do more than bare minimum as a teacher.
34. Pick A Letter
I had a teacher in the 6th grade who gave me a C+ on a poster project that I turned in. When he saw my disappointment he asked, “What grade do you think you should have gotten?” I thought for a second and said “a B+”. He immediately scratched out the grade and gave me a B+. (Tragically, I saw in the news a few years later that he drowned while on a fishing trip. That got to me).
35. Just Let It Out
My teacher was asking a student in the hallway to quiet down, as they were disrupting her class. The kid’s reaction was awful. The student proceeds to not quiet down and begins bombarding the teacher with teenage insults, the teacher who if you can imagine is a short-ish hippy lady in her late 50s, one of the nicest people I know and would always have time to help you with an assignment regardless what she was currently doing.
Anyway, the student, who is still raging starts walking away from my teacher, and the first words my teacher says to him after asking him to quiet down is, “I’m sorry, have a good rest of your day.” It took me some time to understand what she did that day. She knew that the student wasn’t angry at her for asking him to be quiet.
He was angry due to personal reasons and he was just lashing out. And she let the student release some of that anger towards her, and when he finished she responded with only kindness after hearing hate for minutes. I have a solid amount of respect for almost all teachers but for her, I have the most. She taught me that kindness can only be spread through kindness.
36. Class In The Fast Lane
I was in a lower set due to class capacity issues. The teacher started off with a speech around what we would be learning this year and then assigned work to the class. After that he walked up to me and gave me a big book with the syllabus and told me he knew I’m too smart for this class and instead of following what the class does he wants me to work through the syllabus at my pace (faster than others being implied) and he would come and check on me after assigning work to everyone else. He said I could do lots or as little each class but I needed to finish the book by the end of the year.
37. Personal Discretion
Had a science teacher, he was absolutely terrific, a great teacher, a great everything. So one day his class was going on when I felt like I was getting my period. I tried to ignore it, but within a few minutes, it was clear that I was getting them because of the cramps. Now I didn’t want to ask him because I had to tell him but I also needed to go to the bathroom. He noticed, said I could leave the class whenever I wanted to without me asking and continued to teach. Still one of the best teachers I’ve had.
38. From A Certain Point Of View…
My speech class teacher (public speaking, etc) in my senior year of high school knew that I was a budding free speech/anti-censorship guy. So for our debate project, she put me on the pro-censorship team. I was really annoyed, but when I asked her about it she gave me a line about how the teams were already set and she wasn’t going to change them.
Over the next few days I found out that two of the people who were on the anti-censorship side were actually in favor of it, and a few people on the other teams were likewise put on the sides that didn’t match their own views. Even at the time, I saw what she was doing, but every time I think about it, I see just how brilliant she was at teaching us how to look at the merits of all sides of an argument, as well as how well she knew the attitudes and ideals of at least 60-odd students that took her classes.
39. Special Delivery
A summer school teacher once lamented that he never had anyone just order pizza to class like in Fast Times. A couple days later a friend and I called up the local pizza place during our lunch break and convinced them to deliver to our classroom. He was so happy it actually happened that he just took a slice as tax and let us enjoy that pizza in the back of the room.
40. Hold The Door!
Mr. D’onofrio, who will probably never see this. Our middle school’s first lockdown drill came without warning. Like we and the teachers had gone over “how” to do a lockdown drill, and knew one would be coming in the next month, but the school decided authenticity would be the best for preparation. One day in seventh-grade science class, the nun principal got on the PA and announced “lockdown.”
Of course, we all panicked, but knew what to do. Mr. D’onofrio ushered us into the coatroom and told us to sit as far away from the windows as possible and be silent. He locked the door and pushed the file cabinets against it. We heard banging on the doors and (first floor) windows. Some footsteps in the hallway. We were silent and terrified.
I remember two sportsball guys standing up and holding their arms out in front of us, like we were in a car about to crash, when the banging started. The banging was just the hall monitors and the lockdown was just a drill. This was in 2007, so it was before school shootings were an epidemic and it was my first lockdown.
When it was over, Mr. D shed a few real tears while we helped him move the desks and cabinets back. For the rest of the class (less than 10 minutes) he told us each how he loved us all and would do anything to protect every one of us no matter what. He was really shaken, just like we were, but he never tried to hide it. Nobody in the class made any jokes about him being “soft” for crying or telling us he loved us. We all saw a grown man experience real fear and courage, and every one of us respected him for it. After that, nobody ever was disrespectful or talked over him in class.
41. Teamwork Makes The Dream Work
We had an exam, saying, “I’ll test your honesty and your teamwork, I’m gonna leave the room once your exam starts.” So we thought it’s between honesty that we don’t share answers with each other, and teamwork by cheating. We were so desperate, and cheated the exams. Professor came back five mins before the time was up and asked, “So did you share your answers with one another?” And yes we said.
“Okay,” he said. “Since you are all honest and you proved to me that you had your teamwork as a class, I will exempt all of you for this exam.”
42. Kids Will Be Kids
I had a high school teacher who read the Giving Tree to every math class (not just his, but the entire math pod) every period of the day (including his off period) on the day before we all left for Christmas break. He did this to ensure he got basically every student in school. He said it was his favorite kid’s book growing up and taught important lessons. He then ended by telling us we were no longer kids. We were adults.
He told us he knew several of us would go to holiday parties and out with friends, and that we’d likely find ways to try substances and commit misdemeanors. This, he said, is only to be expected of young adults our age. He didn’t preach abstinence or anything like that. He just asked us to think of him and his story, and that we be safe. He would even offer rides if we needed them, no judgment. We all cherished him. Best teacher by far I’ve ever had.
43. Orange You Glad You Came?
I had an English teacher who would give me oranges in class because if I’m eating then I can’t be talking. I was also in love with her and probably still am; because of the way she used to bring stories to life, I used to sit there dreamily with my clementine and fall into her soft voice. She used to give me oranges mainly because I’m a bit antsy and sitting still just doesn’t happen for me. It wasn’t every lesson but she noticed the correlation between no orange vs orange lessons.
44. Lean On Me
This may sound weird, but I grew up in an incredibly abusive household (spent years not knowing if I’d be alive the next day bad). In high school, I connected with my English teacher who was an incredibly kind woman. I do not know why I told her, but I’m pretty sure looking back now, it wasn’t that hard to tell my situation was a little unusual.
Anyways, she was the first adult who I ever told what I was going through. Which for me was huge, I have massive trust issues given those who were there to protect me have never done so. Since this was over 20 years ago now, there wasn’t really the obligation to tell someone in the same way things seem to exist now. It was just starting to be a thing.
I had told her because I wanted help for me and my younger brother. However, I made the mistake of telling my mom, who immediately panicked and told me I was going to foster care and I’d never see my brother again, all the horrible things. Knowing some kids in the system did impact me, also knowing some horror stories as a survivor of trafficking, I was terrified of ending up right back in that.
I told my teacher the next day to please not tell anyone, she never asked me why, she just respected my wishes. Knowing who she is as a person now, I can’t imagine how hard that must have been. She told me if I ever changed my mind, she would do everything in her power to help us. In a way, I felt better, knowing I could possibly come up with a way to make it work.
From that point until graduation she made sure to connect me with folks (her church community) to help me obtain some basic needs things, such as glasses (I’m super blind, with bad astigmatism, so very expensive and growing up in poverty with no assistance doesn’t get you far) and food. To this day I have a lot of respect for my old teacher.
It may not seem like much and to some, her not reporting could be looked at as bad. However, she gave me a reason to keep going and showed me that I was someone worth caring about, in a world that until that point never cared about me. I would say that earns a lot of respect, because she could have done absolutely nothing and she definitely did not have to listen, but she did.
45. Take Your Time
My psychology teacher in high school. He was a big burly dude who used World of Warcraft examples to explain certain psychology terms and experiments to help us understand. Great guy and one of the few classes I looked forward to each day. The first 10 mins of his class, he would write the day’s notes on the blackboard and we’d just copy. Then he’d give a lecture for 20 mins.
After that, we were free to do whatever we wanted. We can work on his homework, or homework of another class. He didn’t care as long as we weren’t disruptive. He also wouldn’t care if anyone was late to class. When I asked him why he’s so chill with the students he just said kids these days have a lot more on their plate than before. And not just academics.
He said he can’t even begin to understand how we process social pressures, family pressures, and even extra-curricular. We were just kids, and sometimes giving kids 45 mins to do whatever they wanted instead of being told what to do is what we needed. He also hung out with my friends and me a lot, and shared stories about his raids in World of Warcraft. I miss that guy.
46. Quid Pro Quo
I had a teacher that really understood different types of learning. I was awful at testing and never did well in school, but I was very intelligent. He pulled me aside one day and said, “Look, I know you’re not an idiot but you’re just not good at the school thing. I know you’re good with your hands. If you can fix my rocking chair I’ll pass you.” So I went into my woodshop and fixed his rocking chair. He really had the respect of every student and he knew how to talk to us as equals and not children. He’s literally touched the lives of tens of thousands of people with stuff like that.
47. Problem Solving
He ate the chalk. High school math teacher said to our class, “I bet nobody here can solve this problem.” I said, “Would you eat that piece of chalk in your hand if someone did?” He said yes, I told him the answer, he popped the chalk in his mouth, I gestured for him to open his mouth to prove it, he had a mouthful of bright yellow chewed up chalk. Mad respect.
48. Sleepy Time
I always slept in my civics class. My teacher asked me why I slept in his class. Was he boring? No. It was after lunch and that made me tired I guess. He just shrugged and continued letting me nap cuz I still had a good grade.
49. Serve And Protect
My math teacher in school was like the coolest guy ever. He was like 6’4, mid thirties I guess and had at one point been the British Judo Champion, he’d also been used in a Batman video game. He told us they’d put those balls on him and a computer analyzed his movements, he was one of the bad guys I think. Anyway, this guy was cool as heck.
He would always tell us great stories and never had to raise his voice as everyone respected him tremendously and wanted him to like them. Except for one time. It was a new term and a black student had left the school and he was telling us she had gone, one student pipes up with an unbelievably inappropriate comment. My teacher jumped to his feet and yelled, “GET OUT!!!”
It was deafening and the whole class was in shock. We’d never even heard his voice loud let alone that. His instinctive anger and natural response to defend someone who wasn’t even there was something I’ll never forget. That’s one of the moments in your life when you think, “That’s the sort of person I want to be.” The kid left pretty sharpish.
Afterward, the teacher sat down, said, “I’m sorry you had to hear that,” gave us some questions to work on, and left the room. When they came back the kid looked like he had been crying. The teacher left the school the next year and we missed him. When my year graduated, he came back to give us our GCSE certificates. They couldn’t have got a better guest of honour in my eyes.
50. Bad Hairdo
When I was in the first grade my mother gave me one of MANY really awful haircuts. The first day back at school afterward the kids picked on me horribly. It got so bad that eventually I ran out and hid. The principal found me and we went back to the classroom and he asked me to wait outside for a minute while he talked to the class. He then walked me to his office and bought me a coke.
The next day—first thing in the morning—we had an assembly with the entire school and he walked up on stage with his head shaved completely bald and talked about safety and the like. Some twenty years down the road he had retired and I ran into him at the local college. Shook his hand and said, “You probably don’t remember me, but…” “Yes I do,” he interrupted and said my name and the event. The man was and is a hero in my eyes.