Teachers see a lot in their day-to-day lives. While just trying to impart a little wisdom on the youngest members of society, they have to deal with behavioral issues, mischief, bullies, brats, and sometimes even the odd child prodigy or two. And then, there's the parents—who are often way worse, more outrageous, and way more disturbing to deal with than their offspring. Teachers from all levels took to Reddit to share their craziest stories about memorable run-ins with both parents and students, proving that even our institutions of learning are home to a whole lot of stupidity.
#1 Finally, Something Positive!
A good kid stayed after class to show me his anime drawings and started rambling about his family dynamics. He told me that his parents are still very much in love and are often going on dates. Sweet! Then he told me that there's a rule in the house that if the master bedroom door is closed you are to stay far away and never interrupt.
Sometimes they'll be in there for hours! By the change in expression on his face, I could tell he just figured it out.
#2 I Just Can’t Put My Name On It…
I once received an essay submission from a student that had another student’s name on it from the year before. They didn’t even bother to update that during their plagiarism...
#3 No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Mum used to be a teacher, and this happened to someone she worked with. A child was strangling another child, the teacher wasn't strong enough to pull the child off of the other child, so ended up having to thump the child until he released, child ended up rather bruised. Parents of the child doing the strangling decided they wanted to try and sue the teacher for hitting their child.
Result: the teacher who prevented their son from murdering someone suspended from work until the case got rejected from court.
#4 My Child Is An Angel
I used to teach this little boy who was so disruptive—he would shout and pinch the other children in the class—and when I complained to his parents they said that he was a little angel at home and were shocked that I was saying that their boy was disruptive. They even said they thought I had the wrong child's parents in!
#5 Google Me This
I used to teach German. A lot of students don't understand how obvious it is when they use Google Translate. But this one submission really stood out. The assignment was just a typical weekly journal entry submitted online. I started reading this one kid's submission and pretty quickly realized that he had written everything in Google Translate...and translated it into Dutch.
Not Deutsch. The kid turned in an assignment in the completely wrong language.
#6 Teaching Jesus
I had a parent of a kindergartner tell me, in all seriousness, that she was told by their church prophet that my student was sent to lead the world into salvation. Her little girl was the second coming of Christ. Gee, no pressure. "Here, teach the Christ-child to read." Plus, she was one of the meanest children I ever taught.
#7 Not Up to Dress Code
My mom's a teacher and in order to talk to a parent about a child that was struggling due to the school environment, she arranged to meet at the parents’ house. Keep in mind this was scheduled in advance with a set time. The dad answered the door 100% naked and tried to have the meeting with him naked on the front porch.
My mom doesn't do anything outside the school anymore.
#8 Fast Forward
One student could learn complex concepts in the span of minutes. The kid once missed an entire unit that I taught over the course of several weeks. I spent 20 minutes with her when she got back, explaining and drawing diagrams and she got it... and got it better than anyone else in the class had. It was so much fun teaching her!
#9 Gotta Let It Loose
The cafeteria, which is used for parent meetings, has tables with fixed bench seating. You have to swing a leg over to sit down. One parent wore a short skirt and was going commando. She also got up several times.
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#10 Neglecting The Eyes
I was teaching a sweet 13-year-old girl, who obviously couldn't see the board very well and needed glasses as she was falling behind in class. I called her mother (this is in south London so imagine a Jade Goody voice) her mum told me to screw off and that "I didn't need darn glasses, my mother didn't need darn glasses so she doesn't need any darn glasses" and hung up.
In that situation, you just feel for the girl.
#11 Withdrawal From the Spank Bank
I had a student plug in their USB drive to pull up a presentation. The guy opened the wrong folder and dozens of dirty video icons were suddenly projected on the screen for the whole class to see. Now I cover the LCD until I can see what is going to be projected.
#12 Audition Games
Held auditions for a singing role that various students were interested in. Held it at lunch when no club events were scheduled, and the note that students could email me if they'd prefer another time. No emails, no shows. We needed someone to fill the role, so I just gave it to a great student of mine. Good natural talent, and reliable.
She was sick all week leading up to auditions and proved it with a doctor's note. I still had her "audition" upon return, but she was the only person who auditioned, so she got the role. Had three parents email me about why special snowflake wasn't considered. They all got the same response. If you want a role, audition for it. Two of them were actually okay with that.
Their kids made it out like I had ignored all other auditions to give the advantage to this sick girl. But the third was terrible. Kept hounding me about how it's unfair her brat didn't have the opportunity to audition (not true), how her child was a better singer than the one I had chosen (admittedly true, but she couldn't show up to mandatory classes on time,
I'm not trusting her with rehearsals), and the usual bad teacher crap. She booed this poor girl on performance day as well, the cow.
#13 Can’t Put a Price on Good Health Products
Work at a school where over 80% of our population lives under the poverty line. I keep a cabinet full of hygiene products for kids to take. Deodorant, lotion, Chapstick, hair gel, feminine hygiene products, shampoo, conditioner, those kinds of things in travel sizes. Being a teen is hard enough without having to cope with hygiene problems due to lack of funds at home.
So one day the entire thing is empty. Odd, I refill the cabinet and two days later all of it is gone again. Refill with the last of my supplies, catch the kid in the act of sweeping everything in his bag. I stop him, take him in the other room and talk to him. He told his mother about the cabinet. She ordered him to bring her everything he could get.
She was returning the items to Walmart for store credit to buy cigarettes and beer. I told him to tell her the cabinet is locked now. I bought a bike lock, so it was not a lie. It was sickening. The lock was only on until the student left. It has been on the honor system for 15 years, over 1,700 students and only one abuser of the system; I call that a good record.
#14 Kids Can Overhear Things Too
A couple of weeks ago one of my second graders was crying so some of the other kids in the class went over and asked what was wrong. Turns out her parents were getting a divorce because her dad was "messing around with four other women and one of them is having another baby." Those were her exact words. I don't even want to know what else that poor kid had to overhear.
#15 Never Mind the Haters
I’ve had some really, really bright kids in my classes over the years. Perfect ACTs, a kid on Jeopardy, Ivy League schools. But I think “M” might be the brightest I’ve ever had and quite possibly a genius. He took several AP tests without having taken the class and scored 5s. He didn’t really self-study them either. He just knew the subject.
The AP Physics C teacher wasn’t happy about it. He was genuinely curious. Shows up at my door with an old smoke detector and CRT TV monitor and wants to experiment with the radioisotopes. I had to shoot that one down. Looked beyond the labs we were doing to find the more obscure uses or derivations that come from the lab, like the relationship between molar mass and specific heat capacity for some metals.
And he understood it all. Every bit. Didn’t pay attention in class because he was constantly looking something up. Incredibly frustrating for some of the other teachers. He wasn’t too interested in homework, but his English teacher commented that the one paper he did turn in was an original analysis out of this world—and she’s a top-notch teacher.
He rarely used my methods for solving problems. He would develop his own that actually showed a deeper understanding of the relationships involved and it worked. Every time. Rarely was there a situation where I was actually teaching him. It was more me introducing something to him and then he would go off and master it.
Come back to pay attention for the next new topic and then poof—off to M land to just get it. He isn’t just bright in one subject. If he wants to, I’m positive he will master whatever is put in front of him. I tried talking him into graduating early because there’s only so much we can offer him. He was interested but didn’t get support from home.
So, I tried talking him into taking some CTE classes—like welding, autos, mechatronics. We’ll see if he shows up next year. As you would expect he’s socially awkward and does not understand why other students don’t get it. Comes off as cocky but he’s not. I think he feels that everyone is this way—just smart. I really like the kid but he needs to move on.
#16 Nasty Mothers
I'm not a teacher, but when I was in elementary school I was a rather fat and unpopular kid. On one occasion I had a mother on a field trip look me up and down and turn to a group of kids who often made fun of me and tell them something that made them laugh. On a second occasion, I had a mother prevent me from going to a classmates' birthday party that most of my 4th-grade class went to only to find out later that she made fun of me as being a pig at the party from other classmates.
I mean I get that I was the fat unpopular kid, but shouldn't those mothers have been acting their age? They were in their thirties and forties.
#17 One Drink to Take the Edge Off
Mother came to a school sports day swigging from a bottle of wine. We always felt desperately sorry for her daughter, because whenever she returned to school following a holiday at home (this was a boarding school), we had to wash all her clothes because they reeked of cigarettes, and this poor little girl was easily the most unhappy child I've ever seen.
#18 Failing The Cousin of The Cousin of The Cousin Of The Prince
I was working in Saudi Arabia about eight years ago and I had one kid who was the cousin of someone who was the cousin's cousin of the Prince of Saudi Arabia. He came the first day and signed up for the class and I never saw him again, in fact, I actually removed him from the attendance. At the end of the course, he showed up to collect his diploma.
I told him he wasn't getting one because he didn't attend a single class. He stormed out of the class calling me names the entire way. A few hours later this guy shows up with half of Saudi Arabia, His mother, father, uncles, aunts, brothers, the whole damn family. I was called into the office by the dean and spent the next 30 minutes being screamed at by my boss, half the staff, and his belligerent family.
Didn't I know who he was? How DARE I not give him what he asked for!! I was docked a month's pay and I ended up quitting two months later. Oh, and he graduated the class. With honors of course.
#19 She Who Smelt It, Dealt It
My mom is a teacher. She said her students complained about how the math teacher passed gas in front of them. The students laughed which infuriated the teacher and she told them if nobody would take responsibility for it she would keep the class after school because it was not her that farted. None of the students took responsibility for the loud noisy smell so the students missed their buses that day.
#20 I Can Quit Anytime I Want
I used to work in a daycare. On my first day, in a new room with 15 two-year-olds, I picked up a little boy and noticed he had dropped something through the neck hole in his onesie. I pulled it out and it was a lighter. When we returned it to the mom and told her where we found it she laughed and said, "This kid gets his hands on EVERYTHING!"
Poor kid also sounded like a smoker every time he laughed or coughed.
#21 Build Your Own Genius
I taught a little boy in first grade who was not yet labeled a genius, but I had no doubt would be. He built a solar-powered motor for our class robot. He wanted to be an electrical engineer when he grew up. His parents and his kindergarten teacher thought he might be on the autism spectrum because he was so strange and awkward. He didn't have any friends.
He didn't really talk to anyone. Each year I usually have one or two students that I pick out as a priority. I make a goal to help that child achieve something outside of academics. That year my goal was to get this genius out of his shell and interacting with the other students. At the time I didn't know he was so smart. A lot of kids are good readers.
A lot of kids know sight words and phonics. It wasn't until we started doing STEM activities that I noticed that this kid was special. He really liked an activity where we built a simple circuit with Christmas lights and batteries. After that, he started reading books about electricity and engineering. I got a circuit set for him to mess around with and decided that our end of the year project would be something with solar energy.
That's how the solar-powered robot happened. The other kids build the robot body and he put together the solar panel and motor. It was awesome. He was a funny little guy, but it wasn't six-year-old humor so he never spoke up. I wrote a comment in his weekly journal telling him he was funny. From that point on he opened up and crack jokes. Even if the kids didn't get it, I would laugh, and they would follow suit. He became very popular with the other students. They looked up to him.
#22 Swing Low, TMI Chariot
I was in the back of the room looking for something in a cabinet. Two girls were having a conversation. They were oblivious I was there.
Girl 1: "So they, like have sex at a party?"
Girl 2: "All the time. It's called Swinging. They think I don't know but I found stuff on my dad's computer."
Girl 1: "That's so weird.”
Girl 2: "Right? I have to go spend next weekend at my grandma's because there's going to be a party at my house."
#23 Too Busy to Care
Well, in my profession it’s more often what the parents don’t do that wins them the parent of the year award. But I do have a couple Hall of Famers. I’m a special education teacher, so I deal with kids with all kinds of physical, emotional and academic disabilities. I took care of a little girl once who had a number of complications due to spina bifida.
Her mother couldn’t be bothered to take care of her. The little girl wore diapers and was cath’d. She required 3-5 diaper changes a day. Mom would only send five diapers a week. The thing is, she was getting full services from her community, so she was being provided with plenty of supplies. We suspect Mom was probably selling the extras. I ended up just buying her diapers.
Mom would not change her catheter regularly. We would change her out at school, but other than that she’d go another 24 hours before a change out. Longer, if it was a weekend. The smell from the infections she’d get after a weekend was horrendous. She had lice constantly, and oozing bed bug sores. Mom told us to "F off" when we’d call and tell her to take her to a doctor.
Found out later in the year that she also had scabies. We offered to administer the medications and creams at school. Mom told us to go to hell. Girl would come to school in men’s underwear, XXL shirts and size 16 pants. She was eight. Finally discovered that her nine-year-old sister was changing her diapers and dressing every day, and sister couldn’t find any other cleanish clothes to put on her.
Moms response: “I’m busy. I have to get to work in the mornings.” Final straw was when the nurse discovered what appeared to be STD warts while changing her diaper one day. Nurse made (for the tenth time) another CPS report, but principal insisted that we call home and report our findings. Grandma found out, tipped off Mom, and Mom appeared at the school 15 minutes later, snatched up the kids and disappeared.
Investigators showed up 15 minutes later, but Mom was already long gone. Never saw the kids again.
#24 Higher Order
I had a parent that believed her child was of a higher order (Indigo Child) and that he was actually going to be the governor of all Indigo Children or something like back when I first started subbing. The school would get a firestorm from the mother if they disciplined him because "higher order beings don't need discipline, they know more than you."
The school psychologist had diagnosed this boy with low functioning autism—he was nine and still in diapers, still used baby talk, and threw fits all the time. The mother would not have him in the autistic classroom for lower grade elementary students and wanted him in a regular classroom. I felt so much pity for the other children who were at normal developments who had to be in the classroom with him.
I understand Least Restrictive Environment, but this was too much.
Staff raised money to get an eight-year-old girl a winter coat (live in rural Canada). Girl came to school the next day in a T-shirt in the dead of winter, her mom wearing the brand new, child-sized jacket. For those wondering—the principal confronted her about it and mom told her to screw off and anything her kids owned belonged to her and she could do what she wanted with it.
Children’s Aide was called and that student lives with a very nice foster family now. Mother was rail thin. Looked like the stereotypical junkie archetype. The sleeves were three inches too short, didn’t cover most of her stomach and she could do it up properly.
#26 Last Names Never Lie
The students told me that Mrs. Spanish Teacher's baby was Mr. Spanish Teacher’s. They went on to tell me that the two teachers had been caught doing the nasty in the library by a student. The saddest part was that they were both married to other people, and Mr. Spanish Teacher and his wife had decided that they weren't going to have children—his wife wanted kids, he didn’t.
The baby had his last name, so any kid who didn't already know knew as soon as the baby was born.
#27 Scared To Discipline
My wife is the principal of an expensive Chinese daycare. Like, really expensive. Every parent drives a BMW or better. A three-year-old once ran away from the group during a field trip. The teacher, an incredibly mild woman, caught the kid and asked him if he thought what he did was good or bad. She didn't hit him, she didn't even criticize him or make him go in time out—she just asked him if he thought it was a good thing to do.
The mother freaked out. Not because her child nearly went missing—she was furious that any type of discipline whatsoever was administered. My wife was on the phone with her until 2:00 AM while this woman screamed, "She has no right to tell my child what to do! Who does she think she is?!" Fortunately, the woman became angry enough that she pulled her kid out a few days later. But that teacher is now so terrified to discipline her students that her class is out of control.
#28 Brains To Take Your Breath Away
When I was teaching English in China, there was one kid who was just incredible. So let me preface this with the admission that I am not an English teacher by trade, I just needed a job to continue my travels in Asia so I worked four days a week in a school and explored China each "weekend" I had. With that in mind, I used to diverge from the suggested teaching a lot and I really enjoyed one class called "English Corner"—which was essentially an open lecture that all students could attend.
Other teachers hated this class as there was little or no coursework available for them to print out, so after a few months, I was basically giving every English Corner class. Now they suggested topics like Happiness, Studying, Sport etc.—mundane stuff. I hated that stuff and so did they, so I started exploring niche topics to get them thinking and sharing ideas—so we did things like the Fermi Paradox, time travel, cosmetic surgery etc.
Well, there was one kid about 10 or 12 years old and he knew everything. He had asthma and was overweight and as a result he could only string short sentences together with each breath; but in everyone one of these classes he'd start a sentence like "Did you know [breath], that XXXX [breath], was actually YYYYYY?".... he did this on every single topic we talked about.
He was 10 or 12 years of age and his knowledge on topics not usually discussed in China was off the charts. These classes were for students who had advanced English, so we had doctors, CEOs, scientists etc. all present in the class and this kid knew just as much as all of them—I was just humbled by this kid’s potential and capabilities—I always wonder where he will end up.
#29 Getting a Little Too Personal
I overheard sixth-grade girls telling each other which teachers they've had spicy dreams about. I walked away not wanting to hear more or if I was named.
#30 Who Needs Help?
My mums’ story, a girl and her parents were being interviewed before starting high school. The primary school this girl went to notified the high school that the girl was autistic. When my mum tried to discuss how they can best cater to the girls needs the parents interrupted. The parents sent the kid out of the room. Says to my mum “She’s not autistic anymore she grew out of it.”
The girl is clearly autistic, and the school was trying to help.
#31 Not A Joke
As a music teacher, I had a mother of a student who would crash choir rehearsal for our Christmas concert and try to "demonstrate" how she had learned to sing "O Holy Night," when she had been a student. Not only was her pitch three cents short of a dollar, but it took the principal and custodian to escort her out of the rehearsal room.
For their part, the students thought it was a "planned comedy." It, however, was not!
#32 You Can Do This
Not a teacher, but my mom is, she teaches the visually impaired. There are these two students of hers whose parents (mainly the mom) tell them that they can’t do anything, and won’t be able to do anything, and all they do while at home is sit around because their mom makes them. However, my mom has been teaching them for about four years, trying to get them to believe in themselves, it mostly has worked, but recently, a different teacher told them that they can’t do anything as well, so that has been a huge setback for them.
I just think that it’s really trashy for a parent to tell their kids that they can’t do anything even though they can do many things that other people can.
#33 Consider Yourselves Warned
My first grader once came to school and told me that daddy drank too much last night and mummy made him sleep in the bathtub. Another told me about the pubic hair grooming habits of her mother. I’ve never gotten horrible gossip from my young students, but parents be aware, your family secrets are NOT secrets if your young kids know.
#34 Sounds Like He’s Doing Work For the Prof
My one/ favorite history professor in college told me about a kid named Gabe. Gabe wasn't great with math, wasn't great with science, but this kid could create a complex map of history in his mind to be able to explain a situation in history from multiple historical standpoints. An example was when he was in my professor's Nazi Germany course and my professor was talking about Hitler's takeover in a general sense—quick overview of the course type stuff/my professor learning what people do and don't know to shape the course a little—and one questioned how they let Hitler be elected considering Hitler's jail sentence and Mein Kampf.
Gabe apparently cited four or so different sources of German people at the time as well as examples of sympathizers in other countries after the Nazi take over to explain Hitler's zeal and demagogue capabilities. My professor still uses the sources Gabe cited because he wasn't even read on them!
#35 Bullying A Child
My roommate is a preschool teacher. She has a student in her class who is very, very rambunctious, and she has a pretty good line of communication with the boy's mother, as she is not in denial about her son's behavioral issues. She also has a girl in her class who is spoiled rotten, used to getting everything she wants immediately.
One afternoon, my roommate was waiting on parents to pick up the kids, and she was chatting with the mother of Rambunctious Boy. All of a sudden, the mother of Spoiled Girl bursts into the room. She starts yelling... at Rambunctious Boy. Apparently, he had pushed Spoiled Girl on the playground the day before. Spoiled Girl didn't tell my roommate or the other teacher, just her mom, and she also told her mom that Rambunctious Boy didn't get punished (since she didn't say anything to the teachers).
Mom decides to take this out not on the teachers, but on this four-year-old boy. She screams at him not to touch her daughter and that there would be consequences and blah blah. Obviously, Rambunctious Boy starts crying, my roommate and the other mother are just in shock, and Spoiled Girl and her mom turn and leave in a huff. Congratulations, lady. You just bullied a four-year-old into crying. I really hope you feel good about yourself.
#36 Skills They Could Use
I work in a school in one of the most socially deprived areas of the UK. At parents’ evening, we give every parent a printout of their child's grades in each subject, alongside their target grades. Last year, we had the parent of an 11-year-old respond to this printout by shouting, "What the heck am I going to do with this? I can't freaking read can I?"
This was in front of other children, parents and her child's teachers. People seem to be torn on seeing this as just trashy, or more as sad as if I might be picking on her a bit. Just to be clear, I'm not making fun of her. A quick laugh behind closed doors at things like this seems to give a bit of levity for teachers in schools like mine. It can be tough.
But I think the majority of people who work in these areas do it because they want to help conquer some of the social inequalities or issues that people are facing. Whether that's for pure humanistic beliefs, their own ego, or just because it feels like you're accomplishing something. Maybe a bit of each. Regardless, I feel sympathy for the woman in question, and her daughter.
One of the aims of my job is to help prevent people reaching adulthood without the necessary skills to thrive. Her behavior doesn't change that and doesn't make me assume I'm a higher class of person than she is, just dealt a different hand I guess.
#37 Ham Lessons
My wife was one in a poor area near Chicago. I've heard a hundred horror stories, but the one I always think about is this one. My wife's school was having a really hard time involving their parents in their kids' homework. The kids on average have poor test scores, poor intelligence, low motivation, etc...common problems today.
So what they tried to do was, start an after-school program where parents would come in and help their kids with their homework. Kinda defeats the purpose of "home" work, but whatever. None of the parents showed up. Not surprising I suppose. Here's where it gets interesting... so they decided they were going to raffle off a ham at each after school homework event.
Amazingly, parents started showing up. I would have to drive with my wife every once in a while to Walmart to buy a ham, because the parents showed up for a 1 in 500 chance to win a ham. They wouldn't come in for their kids, but they'd come in for a chance at ham. Blows my mind to this day.
#38 I Think It's Time to Move Somewhere New
In one school I had heard that three students—all minors—had shot a racy tape and leaked it. In another school, I heard that two kids were called into the office and suspended because they’d shot at each other over the weekend. The saddest was two girls having a conversation about how one girl’s mother had remained dating a man who’d kidnapped and assaulted her (the mother) at gunpoint.
I didn’t work in a good school.
#39 Sell Your Kid’s Future
I volunteer at after-school programs to help tutor. I had a student earlier this year. Good kid. Loves math, loves computers. Wants to be a programmer when he grows up. He's really struggling in seventh grade because he has no computer at home. We have to do his online assignments at the program, but we only meet twice a week.
I pulled his mom aside and explained how he could be doing MUCH better in school with some kind of PC and internet access at home. She says she can’t afford a computer. I tell her that for $200, I could piece all the parts together myself for a fully functional set-up that would be sufficient for at least the next few years. I'd even build it with him, so he could learn some extremely valuable information.
I'd even front her half, but she'd have to pay me back. She says no way, still way out of her budget. Mind you, while we're having this conversation, she's barely looking up to speak to me. Too busy scrolling thru the gram on her iPhone X. I say screw it, I'll do it myself. Scrap together all of the parts I can for free, I only had to buy an HDD.
The set-up was really out of date but still worked. Gave it to them. The kid was thrilled. About a month later, I notice he's trying to finish all his homework at the program again. I ask his mom if everything’s OK with the computer. She says it broke down. I say OK, what happened? I'll pick it up and try to fix it. She says she had to throw it away.
I pull the kid aside and ask him. He tells me she sold it to her cousin for $50. I really don’t like calling people trashy when they're apparently stuck in a culture of poverty. Maybe she needed that $50 for the light bill, or groceries. But at the same time, she spends three times that amount on her cell phone each month, so it really just broke my heart. It was like she's doing everything in her power to ensure the kid has no chance at a decent life.
#40 The Big Picture
I taught a girl who was an absolute genius. She hated it when I or other people called her that because she didn't think she was. The main thing that set her apart was her ability to understand a concept as well as the significance that the concept had to other areas based on me explaining something orally once. Most students wouldn't realize that class had started yet by the time she already figured out my lesson.
See, most students, after several attempts at me explaining something, will just memorize my explanation word-for-word and regurgitate that on the test because they still don't understand what on earth you're talking about. Bright students? They actually figure out what you're talking about and can explain it in their own words. But this girl? She not only understood but then applied it to other areas. That's why she was brilliant.
#41 Excuses For The Stealing
I just got back from an internship at a German "Gymnasium" (high school directed towards kids who would normally go to college after). This school was also a boarding school and one of the kids is a complete jerk waffle. He steals and drinks and bullies everyone else then plays dumb as if he didn't know what was up.
His mother is probably the biggest problem parent I had to deal with at the school, but I was an intern so the real teachers had to deal with way worse I believe. His mother ignores everything bad we told her about her kid. He is a saint who can do no wrong to her, and he's too fragile to ride the train home so every other week and on holidays she drives across Germany to pick him up.
He got caught stealing from three other kids that lived next door to him, but his mom always gives some excuse like "Oh, he's under so much pressure, you all just blame him for everything!" Meanwhile, he is growing up to have no future because he refuses to participate in school and can't stop acting out. There is probably a problem here that needs treatment but I am a college student and those teachers are way overworked as it is.
#42 Indoor Voices
I called a parent about a behavior issue. I must have been on speakerphone, because I heard the kid come home. Parent starts screaming at and whaling on the kid. Cussing, calling them all sorts of names. I don't even know if the parent remembered I was on the phone. I hung up the phone and went to my principal. Teachers are mandated reporters, don't hit your kids in front of a teacher.
#43 You Really Let the Cat Out of the Bag On This One
Two girls in the back of my theater classroom would not stop talking. One of them seemed upset, so I asked them to keep it down. It continued, so I told them more firmly to pay attention. The upset girl promptly freaked out, said "WHAT THE HECK DO YOU WANT ME TO DO? I'M PREGNANT!" The entire class's mouths dropped and I couldn't think of anything to do but send her to the trauma counselor. Sure enough, yep—one of my sophomores had a baby the April before she became a high school junior.
#44 Double Dare Me to Translate
I am a Spanish teacher. I used to have this "Select-Your-Project" assignment where I had like 50 mini-projects that each had individual point values possible. They had to do 10 points worth of projects to get full credit. One of the 1-point projects was to find a Hispanic recipe in Spanish and translate the recipe into English.
To make it a 5-point project, you could cook it and bring it to class. So this kid turns in what I can only summarize as the stupidest thing I've ever seen in 11 years of teaching. Literally, nothing was correct. First off, he didn't find a recipe in Spanish; it was in English. Second, the recipe wasn't Hispanic; it contained Spanish rice and was some goofy non-ethnic cuisine.
Lastly, and most egregiously, he knew he was supposed to translate it, and he wasn't sure what to do since it was already in English, so his genius solution was to go to Google Translate and translate it into Chinese. I was sitting there staring at these Chinese characters and looking at him and then back to the paper, then back to him again.
I asked him what he could have possibly been thinking, and he started crying, saying that it was too confusing. Oh, and he also didn't turn in any of the other projects, so he would've only gotten 1 point out of the 10 anyway.
#45 Terrible Grandmothering
Chris' grandmother (who became his legal guardian not too long before this story) takes the cake for me. Background—I taught at an alternative high school for students who were not successful in the traditional high school setting (Kids with drug problems mostly, but there were a few outliers to that, Chris being one).
Although he was fairly high functioning for his placement, Chris was classified special education, and was legally allowed to sit in on his PPT (Planning and Placement Team) meetings to discuss his IEP (Individualized Education Plan). It was at the PPT meeting in April to discuss the upcoming school year that my heart broke for this kid so badly.
We were discussing Chris' progress in the current school year and I was being very optimistic about Chris' upcoming school year as I felt that he made tremendous progress and could continue to do well if the proper support was in place. I made the suggestion that grandma help to facilitate a positive learning environment at home in order to provide Chris with the best chance to succeed and her exact response was "I'm not changing anything at home, the kid is stupid and he's going to keep being stupid no matter what I do for him at home."
He was sitting right next to her and I could see all the joy leaving his face like a balloon slowly being deflated. I never wanted to adopt a child so badly in my life as I did Chris, to get him out of yet another toxic home situation.
#46 Baby Book Worm
I teach preschool—had a two-year-old in my class reading middle elementary level chapter books.
#47 Keep Your Hands to Yourself
Our vice principal is a former Army Sergeant who’s built like a tank. He’s well-liked and an amazing role model in a community where many of our kids don’t have a good male role model. On several occasions, I’ve seen mothers step well over the line and make very sexual comments to him directly in front of their kids. I mean in plain sight of their own children and in ways the kids notice.
He’s always very respectful and often asks another staff member to join him if he sees one of these parents coming to talk, but it’s pretty damn trashy when it comes to some of the innuendo I’ve overheard. These aren’t jokes either. They try to get handsy with him too.
#48 Issues With Grades
Any parent of a college-aged student that thinks they still need or can do anything about their child's grade. I've had at least one student all four terms I taught freshman biology labs call my admin about why there is someone with a BS in Physics teaching their precious child Biology, what does he know about grading lab reports, and they need to change their precious child's grade on the last report that was supposed to be ten pages with graphs they their innocent perfect child turned in only one page with no graph from an 'F' to the more fair 'A' grade.
#49 Let’s See You Slither out of This Mess
I told my first-grade teacher that one of my mom's friends played with a snake for work. At first, my teacher thought it was a euphemism I'd heard & asked me privately after class what I meant. I happily explained that she was an "Exotic Dancer" (a phrase my mom used) who used a boa constrictor in her dance & that I got to meet the snake backstage.
I could tell she was obviously concerned and somehow in my brain, I thought telling her "But don't worry, she's very careful not to get herself bit, because the snake only likes to eat mice" would help. The parent-teacher conference ended up in a yelling match and a visit from CPS.
#50 Got An “F” in Charm School
This one was pretty funny. A parent brought out a pack of sweets or something and her son asked, "Can I have some?" To which the mother responded, "Where’s your effing manners? How about effing please?" I facepalmed so hard.
#51 No Look-Sees
There is a parent who would walk through our closed campus every single day. As teachers we are supposed to stop her because it’s a closed campus. Every single day she would pretend she didn’t know the rules. We always knew it was the same parent because she let her younger children who weren’t in school yet ride around on their scooters ahead of her. One day she was walking through with a stroller. She was not paying attention and her freaking baby started falling out of the front of the stroller. I saw four teachers jump up to help the kid and the mom didn’t even acknowledge.
#52 The PTA Is No Excuse for PDA
The other one happened directly to me during parent teacher conferences. I was meeting with a mom and her live-in boyfriend about her son. At the end of the conference, I asked if they had any questions I could answer for them and he started asking me personal questions and flirting with me. I deflected and told them I had more conferences. But other teachers have told me that parents have hit on them before so it’s probably pretty common.
#53 You Can Be a Genius In Anything
I've taught a lot of smart kids, and while these two stories may not be the most genius kids—I mean, maybe they were, but I can't really tell—they're good stories. One was a little boy I had when I taught first grade. At that age, he figured out that the squares of numbers always end in a pattern (0, 1, 4, 9, 6, 5, 6, 9, 4, 1 and repeat).
He asked me what that was called, and I didn't even know it was a thing. I spent most of his first-grade year trying to teach him how to not be so obvious when he thought people were wasting his time. The kid could already read and do the math, but he did not yet know how to control his eye rolling. That was sincerely the most useful skill I could teach him.
The other was a girl I taught in sixth grade a couple of years ago. Her parents had homeschooled her for a while, and basically, she just learned whatever she wanted to learn. That worked for my class, so she did random reports on the history of Chinese food or essays about her grandmother or whatever. Just recently she was part of a young composer workshop, and I got to see professional musicians perform her work. She's 13.
The thing is, geniuses don't always do stereotypically genius things. The boy from the first story is now attending a pretty average state university. I'm sure he will always be smart and always be great at what he does, but that super amazing genius thing in only one aspect of a person.
#54 Don’t Go With Your Gut
I taught a sociology course a few years ago and had a student submit an assignment with, “Screw you, you sexist witch” as the response to a question. When I asked her about it later, she told me that she often writes in her initial responses or thoughts about questions, and she must have forgotten to delete/change this one!
#55 Some Truly Amazing Talents
I teach kindergarten and they really do share everything that goes on at home! During our morning meeting, one boy shared that his uncle was arrested over the weekend and would be in jail for a long time. I was curious so I asked what happened and he happily told me that his uncle was making lots of fake money! Another time a student ran up to me and was so excited and the conversation went like this...
Boy: “Ms. V! My dad is so awesome! He's so talented!”
Me: “Oh wow, that's great! What is his talent?”
Boy: “Well he can chug a whole bottle of beer without stopping! Sometimes he drinks all six beers at night.”
Me: “Wow. That's awesome. I'm proud of him.”
#56 Great at Graduating
I had a student, who was also an undergrad researcher in my lab, who was legitimately a genius. He graduated high school a year (or two?) early and got straight As while taking two to three more classes than other students were even ALLOWED to take. (So... 26ish credits.) He was taking graduate classes that I was taking (while I was his TA for some undergrad labs).
He left college a year early and went to Cambridge. It wasn't that he knew the answer right away all the time. Sometimes he did have to think about things, but he always figured it out, and he was rarely wrong. Note, not "never." He was wrong sometimes, and very quick to admit it. He set the curve for all of my graduate classes, despite being an undergrad at the time.
Even though the tests were designed to not have everybody finish, he would always finish, and always have a 98ish% score, while the average for the test was usually ~50%. Remember, this is graduate school, we're ALL smart. Not undergrad where the teachers have to teach to the dumbest student. He was always working on SOMETHING.
Many times, it was even over my head. He was very aloof and portrayed the perfect "mad scientist." Very ADDish, running off mid-conversation to think about something else, very easily distract-able. He was socially awkward and by all definitions a nerd but had a good sense of humor around his friends. He was great at math, great at comp-sci, a great programmer, and he loved the combination of all of them into physical chemistry
His parents were both scientists. So, either they raised him while teaching him quantum chemistry, or his IQ was very nearly ~160ish—or both. He would often question the professors teaching the classes and was often correct with the point he was trying to make. A few times the professors came to HIM to help them solve something.
#57 Athlete Parents
Was an athletic coach at the university level and this is even more of an issue; athletes' parents are the worst. I had one mother email me daily about why I should put her child in the game, giving me stats, etc. like I didn't have access to the same information or that I wasn't watching practices. At this point in your child's life, you have to cut the cord; your child is being paid (athletic scholarship) to play here, therefore, it is their job—would you email your child's boss with reasons to give them a raise? Parents can be crazy.
#58 Passing Down Prejudice
I'm not a classroom teacher, but I do work with kids doing behavioral therapy and teaching social skills. I did it in-home for four years and when I moved in June I started working at a clinic that more closely mimics a school. Both settings are beneficial for the kids, but lemme tell you about crazy parents. The worst was the hyper-religious family that home-schooled all five of their kids.
The youngest was 12 years younger than the second-youngest because the parents decided in their mid-forties that they wanted another kid. The odds of a special-needs child at that age are pretty damn high compared to 35 and younger, but they insisted that they wanted whatever "God had in store for them" and now play martyr about everything related to their daughter.
Oh, and they hate black people. Like, dad ranted about how "damn stupid" black people are, and their living room is filled with professionally framed Confederate Army paintings.
#59 When It Rains, It Snows
Not a teacher but a college administrator. Parents will call in very frequently when there is an issue with their student’s living situation. If they’re jerk (frequent) I quote FERPA to them. Best example—I had to bill a student for around $600 in damages to their room at the end of the year. Mom called me, pissed off about this, because they had tried to repair the damages (poorly).
She ended up yelling about this over the phone, and I reminded her that her son was 22 years old and that I could only talk with him about this. Kid calls me back the next day and apologizes for his mom being a jerk to me and asks if I’m able to just BS his mom when she calls back. It’s a weird line of work. Some vocabulary I’ve learned for other folks dealing with this: snowplow parents.
#60 To Put It Simply
Okay, I'm going to shamelessly brag about this kid. For the record, I teach high school Spanish. We'll call the kid Jason because that's nothing like his real name and I don't wanna break FERPA. Jason played basketball and soccer. He was in Art Club and Beta Club and National Honor Society. He was even the Valedictorian.
Jason basically taught himself Spanish 1, and by the time he got to my Spanish 2 class, had vastly surpassed his classmates. He asked great questions and even caused me to learn quite a few things about the subject. His Spanish was impeccable. He never made even a single B in my class. When we played games, his team always won.
He studied hard, he was focused, and he was so affable. And he was like this in every class, including the AP classes. He went on to the best college in the state, full ride. He's done study abroad in several countries, and he's been recognized several times in the school's magazine. And not a single person has a negative thing to say about him.
He's so genuine and good. He's a serious, preppy white boy that gets along with everyone: the athletes, the nerds, the goth/emo kids. He can even freestyle. I've gotten off track with the question, but he just makes me so proud. Jason is a freaking genius.
#61 The Deadbeat Dad Diet
Not a teacher but my dad once worked as a groundskeeper at a primary school. Worst thing he ever saw was a guy dropping his daughter off to school and before she went through the gate, her dad went through her schoolbag and took out all of her packed food and left eating it essentially leaving her with nothing to eat that day. Dad was so angry he said he wanted to knock the guy out right then and there for leaving his child with no food for the day, but he ended up going straight to the principal to tell them what he witnessed so it could be investigated properly and get the kid help.
#62 Offending Disabilities
I work with a student with an intellectual disability in journalism class. One day, the student interviews a really important political figure that's closely tied with activism for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The student finishes writing the article and there's only one issue, she needs to email her article to the editors and cannot seem to log into her email account because she forgot her password.
So, I volunteer to email it for to the student editors. No harm, no foul. Then, the next day I receive an email from her mother saying that the terminology the student used (she was quoting the politician) were my words and that I do not use person-first language (a huge no-no in education). She told me my language was offensive, unprofessional, and a sign that I clearly do not understand the complexities of addressing people with intellectual disorders.
What offensive thing did the politician say? He said "students with special needs" instead of saying "students with intellectual disorders." Honestly, it's not like he dropped the r-bomb, but based on the parent's reaction the student might as well have written that in the article. The parent CC'd all of the student editors and attached a bunch of Huffington Post articles on the topic.
It was insane. The students kept approaching me, asking how they should handle the article. I just told them to ignore it and I'll deal with it. The entire ordeal was horrible and I was just trying to be a nice person by being the email liaison between the student and the editors. I've never received an apology and the parent refuses to acknowledge me whenever I wave at her when she's visiting.
#63 Pajama Parenting
The mom who brings her kids to the clinic in their pajamas and is in pajamas 50% of the time herself. She asks for parenting advice and then interrupts me every time to tell me why that won't work for her son. "He'll cry." She insists that she can't keep him out of locked closets, can't keep him off of the kitchen counters, can't keep him from climbing baby gates.
It's called not leaving your kid alone until you've taught him what is and isn't allowed. He's three, but developmentally probably 18 months. She lets him have Kit Kats for breakfast and leave the house barefoot because she "doesn't want that battle" today. Then she's always late for pick up and talks at me about herself forever no matter how many times I say goodbye, but she talks at me through her son by referring to herself in third person: "It's time to get in the car because Mommy has to go to Walmart to pick up our medicine. Our medicine has gone up twelve bucks since last time! And we have to get the lotion for you, that stuff better work since it costs $10 for a bottle. Mommy really hopes you don't start kicking me like last time."
And it just goes on forever, taking up my lunch break every single time. I can't walk away because my boss would frown upon that.
#64 Mature for Her Age
This girl in the preschool class I teach always tells me little random stories about her mom getting pulled over for speeding, or spending time “drinking” with her friends. Well, last week we were on our way to a field trip and she saw a billboard for a beer company. I’m not sure what company but it had a beer can on it and she said very loudly “I love beer!” and I said “um…what?”
She repeated herself. So I said, “Stop, you’re being silly.” She said “No my daddy used to give it to me all the time. He stopped but sometimes he gives me sips of it and once he gave my sister a whole can!” I said “Oh silly, you mean ROOT beer!” and she said, “No, the beer only grown-ups drink!”
#65 A for Effort (and Everything Else)
Seventh-grade life science teacher. A girl I taught this year was basically great at every subject. I always sort of felt like the lab partner that was not prepared for the day. She had raw talent and great genetics, but the thing that set her apart from the others was effort. She wanted to learn and spent time learning. She was quick with everything and it came naturally, but she always gave it 100%.
We had to give awards out to our students at the end of the year and I decided to not award her for her smarts since those are the awards she always receives. Instead, I gave her the award for greatest effort displayed by any student. She also is probably going to the Olympics in a couple of years, so she’s got that going for her, which is nice.
#66 Pick On Someone My Size
Last year I taught fifth grade. I had a student for one block a day that was a little mentally unstable. She developed a crush on another girl and began writing her a ton of creepy notes. The school was handling it but apparently, the second girl's mother didn't think that was enough, so they drove to the first girl's bus stop in the morning and started yelling and threatening her. They basically had her cornered when the bus driver showed up and had to pry this raging mom away from the student.
#67 Too Sad To Write About
Local crime kingpin (unconvicted). Knew exactly how much he was legally allowed to mentally and physically abuse his daughter (I got nowhere with Social Services). Probably murdered her mother (never indicted—no witnesses). Sorry for the terseness but I hate thinking about it.
#68 Overdue for Pickup
My mom is a middle school teacher. Just about every day, some bad parent doesn't come pick up their kids because they literally forgot about them or were passed out drunk/on drugs. Then the poor child gets sent to daycare, which is not free, then the parents complain about the charge. My mom has had to bring random kids home before, who barely know the way home. It's really sad.
#69 Well That Escalated Quickly
I taught third grade and had to take a mix of students with me to dismissal. A former student—let’s call him B—was standing near me at dismissal. As his vehicle approaches, one of my current students—let’s call him J—waves at the woman driving. I let B in the car and go back to my post. J tells me B’s mom is really nice and I ask if they’re neighbors or if he plays with B after school.
He shakes his head and says, “My dad and his mom are friends. They’re going to have a baby.” I stand there confused, knowing that J’s parents are married and had just met with me for a conference. He continues, “Well, we think they are having a baby, but my mom says the lady has a lot of friends and it might be E’s (a student from another class) dad. I hope it’s ours! I want a sister.”
#70 Uber Carpool: For Kids!
Not a parent, but we had a babysitter who would roll up about two feet from the curb in her ancient dented-to-hell gold van, have a preteen in the back slide the door open, and then scream “Get in!!!” at the tiny five-year-old she was picking up (the poor girl started crying every time).
#71 Jihad Mistake
Not the worst but definitely up there with the stupidest. Currently dealing with a parent who thought I that I taught their kid about Jihad. We had Holidays Around the World before our Winter Break. Each teacher took a holiday and explained it through activities, videos, music, food etc. I chose Diwali and decorated my room in lights, had a fun writing/coloring activity and a child-friendly video about the holiday.
The student then goes home and tells the parent that I was teaching about killing and about a religion that started with a J. The parents questioned their child to the point of him crying. I asked him about it and he said that they wouldn't let him leave it alone and he ended up crying for a while about it. The parent said they knew it wasn't the Jewish religion so then it had to be Jihad.
What!?! Jihad?!?! That's a religion?!?! And if it was a religion why would I be teaching that to my elementary classroom? Seriously, facepalm. The best is that the parent CC'd my boss on the email without talking to me at all about it. My boss usually faults on the side of his teachers so I'm not worried about that but I just couldn't believe a well-educated adult thought that Jihad was a religion. And she asked her husband and he agreed it had to be Jihad as well! If that is the mindset going in that child's home they have a lot to overcome.
#72 Confusing Cultures
We were going through the epic poem "Beowulf" and I was splicing in lessons about Anglo Saxon culture, language, religion, etc. and how it still is represented in our world today. (Thor's Day/Thursday, Woden's Day/Wednesday, etc.). A parent called the school claiming I was teaching her son about Nazi culture and how Nazi culture is a part of our culture today and should be celebrated. It took several meetings to convince the woman that Anglo Saxon and Aryan are two different things... several... meetings.
#73 Different Strokes for Different Folks
One of my seventh graders told me about how one of the more...interesting students in our class took a dump in his hand and hid the incriminating turd in his desk.
#74 A Return Policy Is Not Discipline
I had a kid whose aunt was his legal guardian. I told her that he was acting up in class and not doing work, so she threatened to put him back into foster care if he didn’t pull his stuff together.
#75 Welcome to the Thunderdome
Parent witness to an event not a teacher. My kid's very first day of school she’s four-and-a-half. In the gym hall, all the kids and parents are in lines according to class and one by one the teachers come and take them away. Our group was last to go. As we are waiting for a guy storms in clearly drunk starts shouting at a woman in the line “why didn’t you tell me it was now! I’ve been looking everywhere etc. etc.”
He slapped the mum. Another dad in the line pulls drunk dad away and pushes him. He falls down on top of another kid. That kid's mum screams, drunk starts to run out, squished kid’s dad chases him. He made it out of the gym but then got caught and the snot kicked outta him in the school reception. Everyone is freaked out, kids are crying then the very happy teacher who is completely unaware comes in. I start googling prices for private schools.
#76 Pride Before Safety
My kid went to the preschool run by the public-school system. One day, I saw one of his classmates'—every student was either three or four—mom open the front passenger door. Kid climbed in, and they drove off with the radio cranked and the little girl dancing on the seat leaning against the dashboard. The back seat was totally empty, not even a car seat.
The next day, I offered the lady my other kid’s seat, I'd buy another one on the way home. She told me to screw off and drove away with her daughter again standing on the front seat. I let the principal know, and we watch the car drive off into traffic towards the highway. Day three, I've called the police, but they'll only come out of I call during the pickup.
Great, that'll only take 30 minutes for them to. After mom drives off with daughter dancing on the seat again, I tell the principal I'm reporting the mom to Family Services if she won't intervene. On day four, a guy shows up in her car and comes nose to nose with me, without even so much as an introduction. He says if I keep harassing his woman I'll regret it.
I tell the principal, nothing she can do. They stopped bringing the kid to school after that.
#77 Forgetting About The Missing Homework
A parent created an extremely extensive treatise on how the traditional methods of grading should be scrapped. They ended up emailing it to every staff member in the school. They did not, however, ever address the fact that their child did not turn in a single homework assignment between December and June.
#78 Neglecting A Child’s Health
I have a set of parents that have gradually confessed to me (over time) that they choose not to have insurance (dad owns a popular strip club and mom is a bikini-girl-sitting-on-the-Ferrari model) and only take their one-year-old to the pediatrician when he's "at 105 temperature and really really sick." They continually ask me for medical advice and I continually refer them to their doctor.
I say, look, if your son has had a cough for months, and you're really worried, take him in. He seems relatively healthy to me, but I understand your concern and I can't exactly diagnose your kid. It could be something harmless; it could not. But they basically don't listen and, within a week, are back pulling me aside asking about the cough.
They care about his health and welfare, which I'm not knocking on, but I'm not a doctor! They have recently informed me that he hasn't been seen by a doctor since he was nine-months-old; this means he hasn't gone in almost a year. I asked if his vaccines are up to date; they are not—mom and dad were "traveling in Europe" and couldn't be bothered.
I have informed management several times of the situation, explaining that they try to treat me like a doctor and that this child could be at risk in a daycare environment—that's why our policy firmly states that all children MUST be vaccinated. Turns out they got a "religious exemption" form. Yeah, OK. Sure.
#79 Meet Me on the Playground
I work in a middle school with an elementary school next door. Two girls from my school were arguing all day and told their parents about it when they got out of school. The parents proceeded to call their families up to the elementary school and fought in front of a bunch of kindergarteners, knives and everything. Cops were called, I think some of the parents are still in jail for gun possession/parole violations. One of the kids was pulled from our school and put in foster care.
#80 Points for Precise Langauge
When I was a sub, I had to sub a fourth-grade class for two weeks. The kids had to write a story about their family and read them to the class. The smartest girl in the class wrote about the dog her dad gave her, except every time she mentioned the word "dad" she said "My dad, sorry I mean the sperm donor.” I asked the office about it, her mom is crazy AF.
#81 Big Love
Once while waiting for parents to arrive at a parents evening/conference, my colleague pointed out one of my students' father sitting in the waiting area. He said “You see the woman sitting next to him, well that’s his wife. And the woman sitting on the other side of him? Well, that’s her sister, and also his other wife...”
#82 Name Brand Mess
In terms of ANNOYING, we have a mom who is self-admittedly OCD. She goes completely nuts over anything being "dirty." This extends to our rooms and her child. If we have lots of toys on the floor (in a room full of toddlers, that is 99.99% of the time yes), she freaks out and starts complaining. We have to strip her child every single meal because he's a messy eater and mom is in such deep denial about that fact that she goes nuclear if he has even a crumb on his clothes.
She brings in her kid in name-brand designer clothing and goes ballistic if they get dirty at all. Some days, he walks around naked more often than not. Yesterday we painted and she went nuclear over that fact. She told me, well yeah, the paint washes out well (she asked which one I used and I told her the one I used last week; I only use the paint that washes out well), but still, ew! Eugh! Omg!
She tells me all the time that her son is happy here and that she can never get him to do art at home—that I "come up with these great project ideas that [she] could never think of!"—but that's because she does art that explicitly isn't messy. Crayons and colored pencils, neatly contained in the little box. I let her son get into the paint with sponges, brushes, and hands.
I clean him up well afterwards—she's never complained about that—but sometimes it gets on clothes, smock or no smock. Still, she complains and whines on a regular basis. I don't know what you want me to do—do you want me to put your kid aside and not allow him to have fun? If he sits over there and says NO, NO, NO when I ask him to come paint, then by all means, I won't make him—there are a couple kids in my class that refuse to paint.
But he's engaged, he's learning, and he's having fun. That's what you pay me to do with your child. I'm not a babysitter; I'm a teacher. Yes, I do diapers, serve meals, and wipe up puke, but beyond that, I'm trying to encourage learning and creative play. At this age, that often becomes messy. Sorry.
#83 Seat Belts Save Lives
Not a teacher. But I had a friend who is a preschool teacher. She had a kid that told her she hated seat belts and won't wear it on the bus. Friend spoke to mother about it. The mother said she screams and refuses to wear it in the car, so she just gave up. The mother was speeding to get to the hospital on a rainy day, kid in the back seat jumping around.
She hit water and skidded into a tree and the child was ejected. Died on impact. To clarify: Found the article after the crash. Did not hit a tree but flipped the car. Child still ejected and died of severe impact to the head. The article does not say she wasn't wearing a seat belt, but it is known that she was not. Mother was not charged.
#84 Why Waste a Good Follicle?
Sitting in a parent-teacher conference with several teachers and at least one administrator present, the mom plucks a hair from her head and starts flossing her teeth with said hair.
#85 Spoiled Brat
Currently doing illegal private tutoring in Korea as an ESL teacher. The "worst" parents I've dealt with so far are the family that I currently work with. While the mother and father are easily two of the sweetest and nicest people I've met, they're extremely wealthy, and tend to spoil the crap out of their two elementary kids. They have a little five-year-old boy that is the most spoiled kid in the universe.
This kid throws tantrums every day during lessons, hits and screams at his parents and grandparents, cries over everything, and eats a ton of food everyday. And his parents just smile and laugh over all of it. They've never disciplined him, they've never told him no. This kid gets a new toy every week, on demand. This little kid can't stand doing anything he doesn't want or he'll run to his parents crying.
#86 Who’s a Good Boy?
During a parent teacher conference, the Mom showed up (late) with a tiny dog inside her shirt, with his little head sticking out between her boobs. When we sat down, she took him out and he walked all over the table we were sitting at during the conference.
#87 Evolutionary Problems
My favorite one was the lady who wrote a letter to all four principals, the Superintendent, and every member of the School Board, threatening to sue the board if I wasn't fired, because I referenced evolution (along with gravity and a few others) in a conversation with my class about the difference between a "theory" and a "scientific theory."
Mind you, we didn't get into anything about evolution, it was a basic freshman intro to physical science class, but that I even mentioned it was enough. The meeting was spectacular. She yelled at me and the principals for a few minutes, then went into her rant about why evolution was apparently wrong, referencing entropy and the laws of thermodynamics.
At some point, I stopped her and asked her if she understands that those laws only apply to closed systems, which the Earth is not, and she told me I was wrong, it was a closed system. I think I said something about "that giant ball of fire in the sky" before my administrators excused me.
#88 After School Troubles
My wife is a teacher and had a kid who kept asking to stay after school. This puts my wife home late but she cares about her job so she kept doing it and tutoring him. Except that she noticed this kid doesn't really need any help. He did all his homework, did just fine on the tests, and she thought maybe he just had a confidence problem.
So she asks him one day and he said his mom tells him he needs to go. So she tried to boost the kid a bit by saying "You don't have to come tomorrow. Tell your mom that I said you are doing just fine and should enjoy your off-hours from school. It's just as important." Something like that. Then my wife gets called down to the office the next day to discuss this insanely long fire email from the mom to the principal, who said that my wife is actively denying her son a fair chance at learning or some crap.
Well anyway, dig it down and sum it up: Statements back and forth, then the mom starts a fire with another one of his teachers with the same "issue" and the whole cycle began again. They eventually got her to admit that she was trying to keep her son at school because she was physically locking him out of the house until she got home from work.
#89 No Mars For My Kid
Jay's mom. This story is a colleague's. The science teacher said, "for this unit, I'll be taking you all to Mars!" Jay's mom comes in—in-person—yelling about how ain't her kid goin' to no Mars. She ain't give permission for dat. True story.
#90 Keith Gets It Together Despite the Mom
Keith's mom. Keith was a 10th grader and I was new to teaching. He was such a pain in the neck. Didn't do any work. Mouthed off. Got other students distracted. I ended up calling his mom about half a dozen times, asking her to come in and meet with me to talk about the situation. She never returned my calls. And then one day, out of the blue, she showed up to talk to me.
She didn't look happy to be there but hey, at least she came, right? I thanked her for being there and began to talk about how Keith was doing. She looked around the room while I spoke, and her body language made it very clear she didn't want to be there. After a few minutes, she interrupted me, looking straight at me for the first time.
"Look," she said. "I gave up on that kid a long time ago. You want to try to do something with him, you go ahead. I wish you luck." And then she got up and left. I felt sick. This was her son. He was maybe 15, still a KID, for crying out loud. In the days that followed, I thought about Keith a lot. In class, I did my best to see him through fresh eyes. I made a point of talking to him more.
And at some point, I realized that for all the headaches he caused, I actually liked having him in class. Turns out he was a funny guy. He had a big heart. After a while, he even started doing some work. Not a lot, but some. One day, another kid in class was being really smug and obnoxious. Without warning, Keith punched the kid in the face.
He sighed and looked at me. "I'm really sorry. Had to be done. I'll escort myself down to the office." I guess that was the last straw for the school, because Keith was sent to an alternative school in the district. A good one, thankfully. I saw Keith one more time, about a year later. He came to my class, grinning, a report card in hand. All A's.
"I decided it was time to get my stuff together," he said, simply. I never saw him again, but I heard he continued to do well. And I'm glad that though others gave up on him, he decided not to give up on himself.
#91 Traumatic Flip of Switch
My first teaching job, I had a fifth grader who was THE WOOOOORST. He would literally just stand up in the middle of class, laugh like a madman, and run out of my classroom. He also did a few things in the bathroom that no sane child would ever do, mostly involving feces. I was new, so I asked around to see if this kid had a history of bad behavior.
All of his previous teachers said he was actually one of the better-behaved kids, and he was pretty smart. No previous history of this kind of attitude or behavior whatsoever. They were baffled. We (and by "we" I mean "all the fifth grade teachers and the principal") met with his parents four times in two months, trying to determine the cause of all of this.
In the first three meetings, his parents were cooperative, but seemed a little slow. They couldn't think of any reason why little J (we'll call him J) would act in such a way. In the fourth meeting, I said "listen, kids don't just flip a switch like this. J has ZERO history of disciplinary problems until this year. Can you think of ANYTHING that happened between 4th and 5th grade that might affect his psychological makeup?"
They said "Oh! His uncle was found shot dead in our home this summer. J was the one who discovered his body." Something that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!!!
#92 A History of Violence
Used to work with teenagers who had behavior problems in a special school. One day, a student of mine had a meltdown. He started punching staff and students alike while screaming. It took five male teachers to hold him down. The headmaster called his mom, so she could pick him up. She had ten minutes; if longer, we would call the cops. The mother arrived eight minutes later.
A woman in her late forties with bleach blond hair wearing a mini skirt and a crop top. She came in yelling and swearing at her son. She picked him up and smacked him at the back of the head while telling him he was a good for nothing idiot. The apple does not fall far from the tree. What I meant by "the apple does not fall far from the tree" is that I understood from then on why this kid was violent and angry all the time. Often, the parent's behavior is reproduced by the child.
#93 Meal Ticket
I taught elementary school, I had a third grader who was well behind all the other children in reading skills. He seemed capable of reading, but just never put forth any effort. So I would pull him aside every chance I got and tutor him, it was paying off, he was progressing nicely. Then his mother showed up one afternoon mad as hell because the boy was learning to read.
It took me a while to figure out what she was screaming about, it seems she was receiving disability payments because her boy was "retarded" (her words) and incapable of reading, if the caseworker found out the boy could read the payments would stop. Luckily, she caused such a commotion that the assistant principal got involved and she was threatened with arrest. But the poor little boy was scared whenever I tried to teach him.
#94 No Means Yes
The mom who taught her son to say "No daddy's house" even though he loves his dad. He understood "yes" and "no" perfectly before this. After she did this we had to re-teach it by taking things away when he said no, he didn't want it. He was so confused and cried so much. His mom is literally the devil.
#95 Twin Grades
Student teacher here. This one isn't so bad as it is stupid. I had a pair of twins in my French class. One was quite bright, not perfect. Say in the B+/A- range. The other not so much. The other twin was failing by a large margin. Parent's night. As a student teacher, I didn't have to go. But I figured it was best to keep up appearances.
So the twins' mom comes in and we all talk about the first twins' grades. Mainly saying that they do this well, and this, and that they need to work on this to get past the B+. As for the other twin, we list our concerns: they are good at this, but they really struggle with that, blah blah blah. Just your standard feedback that would help both twins do well.
However, the mother gave one of the stupidest responses I'd ever heard. Both the teacher and myself were speechless. You'd think her comment was a joke, but she was serious. Dead serious. And I bet it's not the first time she's said it. "But if they're identical twins, shouldn't they have the same grade?"
#96 Don’t Underestimate Her
I worked as a substitute teacher at a high school a long time ago, and I wound up getting the same girl in class multiple times over several years. Most notably, I subbed in for the school's AP Bio teacher for four months. She clearly had problems at home, and maybe mental problems as well. Her clothes were always really ratty, and everything about her just screamed child neglect.
She didn't seem to have any friends and she was hellishly awkward whenever you talked to her. She was also one of those smart kids that wound up so bored with school that she just checked out completely at some point. By the time I got her in high school, she never did homework and rarely did in-class assignments, and she almost never paid any attention to the lesson at all.
She did just enough work to pass, barely. She just sat in the back and read or drew in her sketchbooks. Often the books she was reading were things like college textbooks or books in various foreign languages, and it was always kind of interesting to see what she was reading. She was an astonishingly fast reader. She'd burn through reading assignments in five minutes that took the rest of the class almost an hour, and she'd understand them when the rest of the class was struggling.
Initially, I wrote her off as just being a slacker until I subbed for that AP Bio class. Every test I gave out, she'd get every question right, and her essay answers were absolutely flawless and often really interesting. The first time this shocked me, because again this was a student that never did ANY work and never paid attention at all. And she blitzed through the test twice as fast as everyone else and got a perfect score when even the best and brightest students were struggling to get Bs.
When the AP tests came around, she took several including some for subjects she didn't take the class for, and as far as I know, she got a 5 on all of them. I'm sure her ACT and SAT scores were equally amazing. I don't know what made her so smart. She clearly had an amazing memory and was just... smarter than the average kid I guess.
Or, smarter in some ways. I've kept track of her on social media over the years. She never went to college and for a while, it looked like she was just going to burn out completely. It was pretty sad. But eventually, things turned around. She owns a company now and seems to be pretty damn successful.
#97 You Can't Unread That Note
Story from a friend who is also a teacher. I don't hold a candle to this one. Students were passing notes in class. This is 8th grade in the US. After about a month they become comfortable and it started to interfere with class, so it got to point where he confiscated one of their notes. The students panicked. And really panicked. He said they apologized and told him to just throw it away.
He said he'll decide later and kept it. He did read it. And a group about eight students—half boys and half girls—would rotate partners for hooking up...but only doing certain things...only because they wanted to keep their virginity. This is their idea. He ended up having a conference with the parents one on one and it was a rough rest of the year.
#98 Homework For Dinner
A woman I used to babysit for worked in a school as an assistant or something in Toronto, she always told this story about how the class rabbit would go home with a new kid each weekend. They kept trying to avoid giving one kid the bunny for the weekend because it was clear his home life wasn't the best. But they finally caved and let him take the rabbit home.
The parents killed the rabbit and ate it. They killed the class bunny and fried it up for dinner. They weren't even ashamed when they told the teacher what happened on Monday. Said they were out of groceries or something. I wish I had more details, but I haven't seen this woman in a few years, so I only remember the basics of the story.
This incident happened around 20 or more years ago so I'm not sure about the aftermath. I had almost completely forgotten about it until I saw this thread and was reminded of this. As far as I remember, the family was very clearly trashy and irresponsible and that's why the school didn't want that kid to take the animal for the weekend.
#99 Brawling is a Family Affair
I’m a high school teacher. One time, a parent of a child who had been going back and forth with another child on social media came to the school to confront the other girl. The mom ended up bursting into my classroom to try to fight one of my ninth grade girls, sending us into a lockdown until the woman was removed by the police.
I want to make clear that the systems in place have failed this woman, her family, and her friends at basically every level and I can understand why she felt like she didn’t trust any systems to handle the situation. By the end of the school year, this particular mother was helping chaperone events and was a good role model for our young people. Her daughter was one of the best performing students in the grade.
#100 Obsessed With Progress
I've been pretty lucky—most of my parents have been cool, supportive, and laid back. I did, however, have one mom who stalked me heavily online, not because she liked me, but because she wanted to constantly talk about her daughter's (supposed lack of) progress. She sent me friend requests repeatedly, showed up at the school once while I was teaching to ask me why I didn't accept her request.
She somehow got my personal email and began emailing my personal email rather than my work email. She also told her daughter to follow me home one day so she could "stop by" sometime (thankfully the daughter told me about this in advance and she didn't do it). It finally ended when the daughter was pulled from the school only after a lawsuit was filed declaring negligence on our part for "meeting the student's needs" (the daughter was a straight B student who didn't really act out too much and seemed to enjoy school).
#101 Irresponsible Faculty Meeting
One of my favorite moments: I walk into the school office to check my mailbox. A parent of one of my students sees me and says very loudly, almost screaming, "Oh, FINALLY!!!! LOOK, EVERYONE, I FOUND A TEACHER!!! Do you realize that I left work EARLY to come here after school to talk to my son's teachers about his report card, and you are LITERALLY the ONLY teacher I have found?!!! I went from classroom to classroom and everyone is GONE!!! Do you know what time it is?!! It's 3:45 pm! School ended FIFTEEN MINUTES AGO!!! FIFTEEN MINUTES!!!! And you're the ONLY teacher STILL HERE!!!! CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO ME WHY EVERYONE IS GONE?! CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO ME WHY EVERY TEACHER HAS LEFT THE BUILDING WHEN SCHOOL JUST GOT OUT?!!!!"
I paused, waiting to see if there was more. When I realized he had finished, I said, "All the teachers are in the library. We're having a faculty meeting." The look on his face was priceless. He knew he was in the wrong, but by that point, he had committed so fiercely to his anger and righteousness that he couldn't just apologize. So he said, "Well that's just irresponsible." And he walked out of the office.
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