Teachers are supposed to be supportive and encouraging. Unfortunately, some are neither. When asked what the worst thing a teacher said to them was, these Redditors responded with some shocking replies. These awful teachers definitely get a failing grade.
1. Family First!
My 7th-grade teacher confronted me for being nine minutes late. I had a funeral for my late father, who passed from lung failure. I still had red eyes, and my mother couldn’t attend due to work. I told my teacher that I was sorry for being late and that we were at a funeral for an extended time. I thought she was understanding, but what she said completely shocked me.
She said that she didn’t care about my father, straight up called me a name, and said that school was more important than my family. Pretty much half the class was recording the scene. A few days later, she was fired.
2. Storytime Suspension
When my little brother was in junior high, he wrote an incredible short story about the end of the world. In the end, a huge device explodes and ends most of the life on earth. The school tried suspending him. His teacher read the story and claimed he was at risk of blowing up the school and that he needed psychological help if he was writing about the whole world ending.
My mother was outraged. She refused to sign any suspension paperwork. They told her my brother was still suspended, so he wasn't allowed on school grounds for three days. My mother took my brother to each one of his classes for those three days.
3. Lock Her Up!
Once, in the seventh grade, two popular girls locked a teacher who everyone hated out of the classroom. She stormed in and demanded to know who locked the door; no one said anything. She then singled me out—she hated me—and said that I would get a week's worth of detention for this because I hadn't ratted out the girls who locked the door.
I protested because the rest of the class hadn't said anything either, and I didn't lock the door. She then took me into the hall and said one of the most hurtful things I've ever heard. She told me no one liked me, no one would ever like me, and that I would never have real friends. This was all true, but hearing her say it was like a punch in the gut. I just stood there and cried.
4. My Mom Broke Him Down
When my brother was in middle school, some kid slammed him up against some lockers and broke his arm. The principal refused to believe it was broken, but finally, near the end of the day, he called my mother. Before she had gotten there, the principal told my brother he was worthless and would never amount to anything.
When my mother got there and found out what he'd said, she absolutely LOST it. She stormed into the office in a rage, yelling, "Who told my son he was worthless??? Who"? From then on, that principal was the nicest guy I had ever dealt with.
5. Apologize For What?
I was in sixth grade, and it was the day after 9/11. Right before English class started, a bunch of students were harassing me and asking if I was happy about what my people—I'm Lebanese—had done. Considering my parents left the Middle East to get away from stuff like this and how I was just as upset as anyone else after what had happened, I ran out of the room near tears.
The teacher followed me out and sat down next to me. I thought she was about to console me. I couldn't have been more wrong. Instead, she yelled at me, said I overreacted, and my storming out was unacceptable. She made me go inside and apologize to everyone, including the students who were yelling at me. It was the most embarrassing and degrading moment of my life.
6. My Teacher Was A Dope
When I was in seventh grade, I started developing horrible seasonal allergies. One day, I went to the bathroom and spent five minutes draining my head of snot. This must have made my nose look red. When I came back, the teacher took me out into the hall and accused me of snorting dope in the bathroom. I couldn't believe it. I was in seventh grade.
Seriously, I had never even had a drink, let alone snorted anything, and I still haven’t. I ended up telling my guidance counselor that it was nonsense, and clearly this guy had a distorted view of me. I got an A for the rest of the year in that class.
7. Santa Went Psycho
I was in high school, and it was right before winter vacation. We had this one history teacher who was really hard on all of us, so everyone hated him. One of the last days before break, he came to school wearing a Santa outfit to accompany a lecture he did on the history behind Santa Claus. Some kid was acting like a fool in class that day, being disruptive.
As the teacher was up walking around the class doing his lecture, the kid stood up behind him, and something set the teacher off. His reaction was disturbing. The teacher turned around and put the kid in like an arm-bar headlock combo and proceeded to push him into a wall and then slam him onto a desk. The entire time he was doing it—in his Santa costume—he was yelling, "Are you OK? Are you OK?”
He seemed genuinely concerned for the kid’s safety while still actively subduing him. I know that at different points in the teacher's life, he had been in the service and law enforcement, so maybe it was just a knee-jerk reaction to a perceived threat behind him; I don't really know. This teacher wasn't a small dude either.
It was honestly one of the most bizarre, frightening, and unsettling things I had seen in my life up to that point. No one really said anything after, and although the incident was reported to the administration, I don't think any disciplinary action was taken as he had been planning on retiring and it was his last week at the school.
8. She Couldn’t Handle The Truth
In first grade, the teacher asked us to write a story about what we did that day. Being six years old, I wrote about how I ate a Kit Kat earlier that day. I remember feeling good about what I wrote because that's actually what I did. I handed my story to the teacher, thinking I had done a good job, when she grabbed me and took me into her office. She told me to put my hands on her desk, and she paddled me right there.
I was shocked I couldn't react. She told me the story I had written was garbage and that I would never amount to anything.
9. My Creativity Was Crushed
In 5th grade, it was a milestone for all the students to make these big weaving things in art class. They were displayed all over the school as a last hurrah before we went off to middle school. My mom took me to the craft store to get all the supplies, and I painstakingly picked out the colors of yarn and little details like beads and such.
It took us all about two weeks to complete our weavings, and I was so proud of mine. Toward the end of the two weeks, my art teacher was making her way around the room to see what we'd done. When she came to mine, she looked down and said, "That just looks ditsy". I was crushed. What would compel an art teacher of all people to make such a dig at a kid attempting to display her creativity is beyond me.
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10. Funeral Faux Pas
I missed the first day of a college class because I was attending my mother’s funeral. I told the instructor the reason why I was absent, to which he replied, "Well, I guess you can't use that excuse again. Haha". I was still pretty much in shock, so I just looked at him blandly, then went and sat down. I found out later that the teacher wasn't a total jerk; he was just completely clueless and socially awkward.
11. Unfounded Assumptions
In eighth grade, we had to write a short story from the perspective of someone who survived a Civil War raid. Unbeknownst to my teachers, I was obsessed with historical fiction and was a darn good writer. I turned mine in happily because my grade needed help, and I was SO SURE this would turn it around. I thoroughly researched the topic, worked tirelessly, and handed it in.
Three days later, the teacher got up and said, “Good job everyone”, but then made a huge point about how SOMEONE plagiarized and SOMEONE wouldn’t be getting theirs back, and how that person must immediately come to her desk so they can go to the office. Sure enough, I was the one. The teacher made a little show about stopping beside my desk with empty hands and shaking her head sadly at me.
Everyone was whispering and giggling and I was about to cry. We tracked down the librarian who assigned this and I had to wait in the hall all puffy-faced. She came out of the class and started in on me in the hall about how I was a cheater. No one listened to my protests, so we went to the office where the principal was waiting with an “I’m disappointed in you” look.
I was a mess from crying but I manage to choke out, "What proof" in the middle of his talk about suspension. He looked at the librarian and my history teacher, who looked at each other. The librarian said she hadn't found it specifically, yet. The principal asked what she meant by “specifically”. Apparently, she had graded mine last of fifty-four and decided that because it was four times as long and better written than the others, I had to have cheated. They shifted around for a minute and sent me to PE without so much as an apology.
12. There Was A Hole In Her Theory
My German teacher was a crazy lady. She always talked about how girls were better than guys, and she pulled the hair of her students, etc. One time, she told us that cheese was a male word because cheese has holes. It was always utterly silent in her classroom because we were 12 and terrified of her. Then, one kid mumbled, “But I thought women had more holes". Her face went pale, and without saying anything, she stood up, took a sponge, soaked it with water, and squeezed it into his sweater.
13. Calm Down!
I had a good friend, Ross, who lived down the street. He was a good kid, but a bit of an odd duck. If something didn't go the way he expected, or people picked on him, he would go into these violent rages. I was so used to it, so I knew how to calm him down. I could usually get him to stop hitting immediately within a couple of minutes. We were in sixth-grade class and working on a project at the end of school.
One of the kids started picking on him. Ross went into one of his rages as the bell rang. I was at the door trying to talk to him and get him to calm down. He was starting to look at me, which was a good sign when the teacher came over to the door and told me to leave. I pointed out that he was calming down. She then yelled, “No”, and punched me in the chest.
I had never been punched; it hurt and made me sick. My mom came to pick me up from school and asked what was wrong and I told her. I lifted up my shirt and a bruise was already starting to develop. My mom went to the guidance counselor and the principal. The guidance counselor tried to defend the teacher’s actions and then went around bad-mouthing me. The principal refused to do anything. Finally, my mother convinced them to move me to another class, where I had the kindest teacher ever.
14. Snakes Alive! I Was Mortified
I peed my pants in first grade and ran from the classroom. I was sitting outside too scared to go back in. The teacher came out, sat next to me, and proceeded to tell me a story about how her uncle was sitting outside one day and was bitten by a snake and didn't survive. She said if I didn't come back inside, the same thing would happen to me.
I will give her points for effectiveness—as it got me inside—but it was a pretty terrible thing to say to a first grader who had just been socially traumatized in front of classmates.
15. I Ran For My Life
In 6th grade, I had a terrible teacher. I was playing paper football with three other guys at our table. The teacher came over, grabbed me by the shoulder, and said she was sending me to the principal's office. I was shocked that I was the only one going for something so stupid. She wrote a note to the principal saying that she had repeatedly told me not to play paper football, which was a lie.
The principal took it way too seriously. He told me I would receive three hits from the paddle. I was shocked but asked if I could change into my jeans because I was still wearing my gym shorts. Instead, I ran out of that school. I got lost walking around trying to find my way back home. I finally made it to a main highway where I was spotted by a state trooper.
I took off running and hid in a small cove. The next thing I heard was dogs. Apparently, an officer had a dog with him and came and sniffed me out. They pulled me out, handcuffed me, and brought me back to school. I was walking back into school just when it was letting out. In the end, I was suspended for a week but never paddled.
16. My Computer Teacher Hit A Glitch
A teacher I had would make offensive and inappropriate jokes all day, every day for the most part. The student body was afraid of him, but me being who I was, I threatened to report his actions. In response, he decided to make an example out of me. He went to the office and reported that I knew the admin password for the computers in the school.
It was the password he gave me as an IT teacher to help repair computers, which was the class he was teaching. I had no idea I was not supposed to know the password since he had openly given it to me. When the office asked if I knew it, I replied, "Of course, why wouldn't I"? From there on out, it became my word versus the teacher’s, which was not a good situation to be in.
The VP of the school and the admin for the district both realized I was helping the school by fixing broken computers. I was thanked by both of them. In response to all of this, the teacher threatened the VP's job, stating if he did not expel me, he would report him. Now, this teacher not only had the students submissive under him but the school's staff too.
The VP told the teacher he expelled me, but because I had all of my credits completed, he really let me graduate early. This way I could go to college without a hitch. Six months down the road, I met a guy who hired me to do some website work. After two or so months of working, he started complaining about the teacher who nearly got me expelled, not knowing I had any connection to him. I couldn't believe it.
My old teacher was blackmailing a client of mine! I told the client exactly some of the terrible things the teacher had done to me and others in the past. In response, he took the teacher I had to court. I never heard the response from it, but I'm sure it turned out bad for that jerk in the end.
17. The Cards Were Stacked Against Me
During junior high and high school, I played Magic: The Gathering, and in my downtime while in class, I would peruse through my deck and cards and make adjustments and tweaks. While in 8th grade, I had a substitute teacher in one of my classes. On that day, I had my deck sitting on the corner of the desk; I wasn't touching it or anything.
The teacher walked by, picked up the cards, and started sifting through them, the entire time shaking her head and making a "tsk, tsk, tsk", sound. She then looked at me and asked what church I went to and if I knew what I was getting myself into. I curtly responded that I didn't believe in going to church. Her response was infuriating: "I should have known".
She then lectured me about how I needed to rethink my life and that I didn't know what I was getting myself into. In disbelief, I looked at her and said, "I don't know what your problem is, but it's just a card game". I ended up getting a month's worth of detention for using profanity, and the deck was confiscated until my parents came to talk to the teacher and retrieve it.
18. Quickly Cut Off For No Reason
I had a huge history project, and my group's subject had to do with education reform. The project involved going up in front of the class to explain our research and findings. My whole group, except for me, was in a different period. I got up and started to do my presentation, and less than a minute into it, my teacher said, "OK, that's enough. You obviously don't know what you are talking about". Except I did, as I had done more than half of the project alone, and the subject matter was my idea.
19. Disgraced For My Dyslexia
As a child, I had a speech defect and was unaware of the fact that I was a dyslexic dysgraphic. One year, my reading and writing teacher took it upon herself to decide that I was simply faking difficulties for attention, especially since I was in the gifted program. Her solution was to force me to read every assignment aloud in front of the class, write every assignment up on the board, and subject me to public mockery.
It was an utter nightmare. She berated me every time I got a word wrong. I also used to love to write little stories, but this woman found my journal and threw it away, telling me that, I "needed to learn how to write properly, or just not do it at all", because my handwriting was so terrible. Being a stubborn little kid, I wouldn't cry or react in any way, let alone tell my parents.
So, she decided that I was also headstrong and rude. She made it her personal mission to make me cry in front of the class, subjecting me to verbal harassment and telling my classmates not to play with me at recess. I withdrew into a shell, and would spend my time out on the playground reading or doing math drills on my own, further bolstering her claim in her mind that "nothing could be wrong with me".
Winter break rolled around, and as soon as I got home, I began to open up again. Then, when the first day of school rolled around, I had an all-out panic attack. My parents asked me what was wrong, and the whole story came out. They pulled me out of public school, attempted to homeschool me, and eventually put me into the school that I stayed at until high school. My parents told the school board what happened, but they did nothing.
20. This Teacher Just Flipped
When I was in third grade, I was fairly hyper. I was diagnosed with ADHD and annoyed my teacher. I wasn't really that bad but I got all my work done in a quarter of the time it took everyone else, so I was always bored. Rather than giving me more to do, she told me to sit quietly, which I obviously didn't do. One day my teacher wasn't there so someone in my class suggested we throw one of those "parties" you saw in movies.
People were throwing paper at each other and everything. I was assigned as the lookout. When I saw someone coming, I warned everyone and sat in my seat. It was our teacher. When she saw what was going on and saw me sitting in my seat, she blamed me for the whole thing. Then she went too far. She came over and started yelling at me, got angry, and flipped one of those heavy desks on me, spilling all my stuff over the floor.
I was always small and light, so having a solid metal school desk fall on me hurt a lot. I was obviously upset and when I got home, I told my mom what happened. Apparently, my teacher had called her over lunch and told her it was an accident and she was trying to get a textbook from my desk when it flipped, so my mom didn't believe me.
It took her a full six months to hear about it from another parent for her to believe me and my parents thought it was too late to do anything about it. I went back to see the teacher when I went off to middle school and she still defended her actions and didn't even apologize. She claimed she lost her cool dealing with me for the whole year and that it was my fault for being a troublesome kid.
21. Their Backtracking Backfired
When I was in middle school, they were going to hold me back a grade because I wasn't able to do my homework, even though I aced all of my tests and anything done in class. My mom fought for me tooth and nail, and eventually, they said that if I was able to do the entire year’s worth of homework for all of my classes within three days—during school—they would accept all of it late and not dock me.
I'm pretty sure they didn't think that was enough time, but it took me a day and a half. I remember the look on one of the teacher's faces when she said that I couldn't possibly be done and that all of my work must be junk and rushed, followed by the change in her expression as she started looking through it. Even after that, they tried to take back what they said and only gave me a barely passing grade.
They tried to argue that I must have cheated, even though I had been in a room by myself and one other teacher at all times. They tried to argue that "that’s not really what they meant", which basically turned into, "we didn't think he would actually do that well". They even tried the "it's not fair to the other students" approach. Eventually, they relented and gave me the grade they had agreed on, but they did it begrudgingly.
22. A Grade A Blockhead
When I went to meet the teacher after kindergarten registration, there was a huge set of wooden blocks in the room. I was shy, and there were other kids playing with the blocks, so I made a note to play with them when I came back to school. On the first day of school, I went over to the blocks and started to play. Then, the teacher came over and said, "Those are boy toys. Go play with something else".
23. His Big Mouth Finally Did Him In
A teacher asked me if I was gay—accusingly—three times in the middle of the boy's locker room. I was a closeted gay person, but he was asking me because I sucked at football, not because I was checking anyone out. He also told my female friend, who talked a lot, that "she should not be surprised if she grows up and a man hits her". He eventually got fired for saying something about people of color.
24. What Goes Around Comes Around
In seventh grade, my science teacher was a real jerk about letting students use the restroom during class. One day, we were all just reading and not doing anything particularly important, like listening to a lecture, and I realized I had to go pee badly. I went over to his desk and asked for permission, and he looked up from his newspaper long enough to smirk and say no.
I quietly but firmly tried to explain that I had to go right now, and could he PLEASE let me go to the restroom? Again, he smirked and said, "No". Being an obedient kid and one who usually was straight-As, I went back to my chair and sat down. I was desperately shifting in my seat as the urge to go got worse and worse.
The teacher was surely aware of it, as my fidgeting was enough to draw the attention of classmates who stopped reading long enough to stare at me oddly for a few seconds. Finally, I couldn't hold it anymore, and the dam burst. I peed all over my new dress, the chair, my backpack under the table, and the white tile floor.
Everybody near me immediately was scooting away, and other students further away were pointing and laughing. I immediately started crying, and the teacher realized that maybe he had made a mistake in not letting me go. He took me to the office, where I had to sit alone in cold, wet clothes until my mother arrived. He never mentioned it to me or apologized.
For the rest of the year and even the following one, I was known as "Potty". When I was getting ready to move out of state, some people even signed my yearbook that way. "To Potty: We'll miss you; don't forget your diapers"! I imagine they got some poor janitor to clean up my puddle, but I like to imagine my teacher having to clean it up himself. Later that year though, he got some payback as another student put Ex-Lax in his coffee and was expelled for it.
25. Lost In Place
When I was in the third grade we were reading out of a textbook. Every time the teacher would call on me, I couldn't find our place. She would call on me every other time. I tried as hard as I could, but couldn't find where the other kids were reading in this book. Every time she would call on me she would call me an idiot and ask me what was wrong with me.
She had everyone in the class laughing at me. Near the end, she finally came over to show me where to read. It turned out my book was a different version from the others. So, she told me to shut up and just listen until they get can get me a new book. She didn’t apologize or anything.
26. An Excercise In Civility
I was a heavier kid in the third grade and a bit of an outcast. We had a sub in geography class one day, and he was the typical "cool teacher" who would joke around and further try bonding with kids by reinforcing their cliques. I ended up dropping my pencil and as I bent over the desk, in front of everyone, he said, "I bet that's the most exercise you've had since your Nintendo broke". At first, I just sat there in shock.
Then I cried my way to the principal who called my mother to pick me up. She opted not to confront the teacher because she was afraid of her own anger. The teacher eventually gave me an in-person, but private, apology and was removed from subbing at our school. The kids in that classroom though never forgot it and made the rest of school difficult.
27. Her Threats Went Out The Window
In 10th grade, I had a math teacher who hated me for whatever reason. One day, I got to class and had forgotten my calculator. I asked if I could borrow one of the spares provided by the school for just such occasions. She told me that I could not, and then threatened to throw me out of a window if I ever forgot my calculator again.
A few weeks later, I had to stay late in the class before to clear something up, and didn't have time to go to my locker and grab my calculator. Not wanting to ask her for a spare again, I sat quietly in the back of the room for most of the period, not doing any work to avoid being reprimanded. Eventually, she called on me and asked me what the answer to a question was.
I had to admit that I didn't have a calculator. She said, "Well it's a good thing I don't have the windows open", and then sent me to the principal's office with a write-up for "being disruptive".
28. Red-Light Rubbish
When I was in elementary school, my school decided to implement a "stoplight system". It was used during lunch to control the volume of students. Green meant talk away, yellow meant time to get quieter, and red meant no talking whatsoever. I was a talkative kid in my own world. I'd get really into a topic and keep talking, not because I was rude, but because I'd forgotten it was red-light time.
When they caught you talking, they'd send you to the corner in front of everyone. It happened to me on more than one occasion. It was supremely demeaning, and they actually forgot me and left me there once. Incredibly upset, I went home and said to my mom, "I'm bad. I'm bad and I can't be good”. I was crushed.
29. She Shattered My Love For Science
When I was younger, I was fascinated by astrophysics but knew nothing about it so I'd come up with these completely unsupported theories as to why a collapsing star turned into a black hole. I would discuss it with my friend after class, away from other people. Instead of supporting and redirecting my interest into productive studying, the science teacher came up to me and said, "You don't know anything. Stop pretending like you do". It completely ruined my passion for science.
30. Playground Payout
Back in second grade, I was wandering the school playground and came across a $20 note lying on the concrete near the kindergarten classrooms. I thought I would be responsible and give it to my teacher to return it to its rightful owner. I went back to class and told her I found it in the playground. She took it, said thank you, and put it in her purse as she walked away.
31. No Erasing My Humiliation
When I was in sixth grade, I was in English class, bored out of my mind. My mind drifted, and at one point I began drawing on my desk. I was drawing in pencil, and it was a very small drawing, that was entirely erasable. I meant no harm. Rather than asking me to erase my drawing, the teacher, to drive home a point about scholastic diligence, pointed at me and said, "Now THIS is an example of a BAD student."
"There you are drawing on your desk when you should be listening". I was a straight-A student and that moment was the most humiliating thing I'd experienced in some time. I erased it immediately. My mom came to the school and reamed her out for choosing to dishearten me when she could've bragged about a student she liked. Shortly after that my mom pulled me out of school, tired of dealing with those imbeciles, and homeschooled me herself.
32. Good Judgement Was In Short Supply
I had a very short classmate, about 4'11''. Once, during a test, the teacher who was distributing the test sheets said to him, "Since you are half a person, you only need one-half of the test". He then ripped the test sheet in two, handed him the top half, and proceeded to distribute the exam to the rest of the class. He only handed my classmate a new test sheet after he assured him that he would be able to cope with such a huge test.
33. Struggling To Deal With This Teacher’s Nonsense
When I was 15, I was almost held back because of mental health struggles. I was crying because of it, and it obviously annoyed my teacher. A couple of months prior, I had been in a psychiatric hospital for thoughts of taking my life. My teacher knew all of this and told me that I should throw myself in front of a bus. She also told me I was too stupid to go to university, yet I went on to pursue a master's in physics.
34. Menstruation Interrogation
I had this horror who was my homeroom and science teacher. She always singled me out and made me stay after class for no reason at all; I never messed around in class or anything. I missed a day of school because I got my period. I would sometimes get cramps so bad that I couldn’t walk. The next day, the teacher kept me after class and started asking me questions about my period.
She had called my mom and asked why I was off school. She also started accusing me of being the type of girl who uses her period as an excuse to take a week off school and said all sorts of other inappropriate stuff. I was so shocked I just stood there and took it. She didn't last very long at the school; fortunately, the staff hated her!
35. She Was A Bad Apple
In third grade, I was best friends with this girl who was the teacher's niece. For some reason, the teacher hated me and didn't want me hanging around her niece. So she told the whole class this story about how there's a "rotten" apple, and if you place it with a bunch of "good" apples, all the "good" apples would eventually become rotten as well.
She basically implied that I was the "rotten" apple and her niece was the "good" apple, and I was making her niece rotten by hanging out with her. She ended the story by telling me, "This is why you shouldn't hang out with my niece".
36. Persecuted Over Penmanship
My parents transferred me from public school to private school between the second and third grades. Where I grew up, private schools taught cursive writing in second grade, and public schools taught it in third grade. Everything done in class was to be done in cursive, and I was expected to catch up with the rest of my class on my own, but I wasn't able to.
By my second month in her class, my teacher would routinely make me stand in front of the class and have me admit to being lazy and dumb because I wasn't able to keep up. She would routinely subtract 20 points from any paper due to my handwriting. This made it impossible for me to get any grade higher than a C. Standardized testing started in third grade.
I tested in the 98th percentile for math and was reading at an eighth-grade level in third grade. At the parent-teacher conference, she told my mother that my math grades were the work of the Devil and that I should be in special education because I was too slow to learn proper penmanship.
37. Power-Tripping Prof
During my freshman year, I was going through a ton of stuff that involved doctors' appointments, including being on crutches from knee surgery. One day, I hobbled into my consumer math class and handed the teacher my excused absence slip to which he replied, "I don't accept this". Then, he tried to call me out in front of the whole class and asked me why I had so many absences.
I was standing there on crutches, and not wanting further embarrassment, I said, "That is my business". He then said, "Lady, you just got yourself an F". I turned to leave the class, and he demanded that I take my seat. I told him that since I had failed the class, I saw no reason to stay, and proceeded out of the classroom. So, I failed a class for excused absences not because of my grades, but because one teacher was on a power trip.
38. Harsh Words Didn’t Hamper My Success
When I was about nine, a teacher said to me in front of the class, “You will never achieve anything in life”. Needless to say, I never forgot that. I got As, a bachelor's degree in physics, a master’s degree in computer science, and now work for a hedge fund, earning fantastic money. I have sworn to myself that I will go back someday, find him, and tell him what I have made of myself.
39. Toppled To Tears
When I was in fifth grade, my desk was pretty messy, so my teacher demanded that I clean it in the middle of a lesson. I thought, whatever I'll organize it and whatnot. I was in the process of removing the items from my desk when my teacher flew into a rage and yelled that I wasn’t doing it fast enough. She took my desk and turned it over so everything in my desk fell all over the floor in front of everybody. She then just left me to clean it all up while I was on the verge of tears, while she continued her lesson. It was devastating and degrading.
40. An Uninspiring Message From The Principal
It was the end of eighth grade, and my class was graduating junior high. Just before the ceremony, the school principal would speak to the entire graduating class in the gym, without the parents. It was just a little private speech, meant to be inspiring or something.
Instead, he got up there and simply said that we are the worst class to have ever passed through this school and that none of us would ever amount to anything. He then walked away, with one, faceless voice yelling from the crowd, telling him off.
41. Right Is Right
I had this one math teacher who kept making mistakes when correcting my tests. I brought it up with her, and she accused me of hanging the answers in front of the class. What made it worse was that I didn't find any more mistakes, which probably fed her feeling that she was right.
There was once an extra credit problem where we were supposed to figure out the pricing system at a store, given that a kite cost $1.25, and then figure out the price for a ball.
I found a different pricing system that still worked for the test case she provided, but yielded a different price for the ball, and she wouldn't give me credit for that. If problems have more than one solution, and I found that one that she didn’t have, it's still right. It took my parents calling in to get the credit.
42. She Stuck Her Nose Where It Didn’t Belong
I went alone to my eighth-grade dance expecting all of my friends to be there. It turned out, they'd all had dinner at someone’s house and I was the only one not invited. When I saw them all come in together, I went into the bathroom and cried. A teacher saw me crying and told all of my “friends” that I was upset, expecting them to go cheer me up. That is not what happened.
Instead, they harassed me about my dress while I was trapped in a bathroom stall.
43. Be All You Can Be, Just Not That…
When I was in high school, I was talking to an Army recruiter. He asked what I wanted to do for my MOS, and I informed him that I would like to be a physical therapist, which is what I'm going to school for now. He told me that he didn't think I was smart enough for that. I took the ASVAB the following week, scored a 98, and then graduated at the top of my class.
44. Bathroom Blunder
When I was in the third grade, I had to go to the bathroom. I made some comment about "visiting the Tidy-Bowl man" to friends at my table, as it was a popular TV commercial at the time. When I got back from the bathroom, the teacher stopped the class and questioned me in front of 30-some kids about my "visit with the tidy bowl man". They dragged it out, asking me question after question about my trip to the bathroom. I was as embarrassed as I've ever been, and, to this day, I cannot understand why they did that.
45. Bad Guidance From This Counselor
Just before graduating high school, my guidance counselor called me into her office. It was the first time I had ever interacted with her. She sat me down and told me that I really needed to look into doing something "vocational, you know, like work at a print shop". I thanked her for her time, walked out, went straight to college, became a teacher, and eventually moved into school leadership.
I became a district-level school leader, then helped run a state-wide education program. I found out a few years ago that this same counselor had also actively tried to dissuade my middle school principal from going to college when he was getting ready to graduate high school. She told him college would just waste his time.
He was lucky enough to serve as her principal years later and made her life pretty miserable. He was horrified to hear that she was doing it at the end of her career as well. I have made it one of my missions as an educational leader to find these types of monsters in our system and get them to transition into working in something "more vocational", so they don't do any more damage to young people.
46. Sick Of It
It was the first day of Grade 12 and also my birthday. I was in excruciating pain and vomiting, so I missed the first day of classes. On the second day, I went into my homeroom class, which was Grade 12 Academic Law, expecting to grab the little "Oh, this is what we'll be doing, here's an assignment" routine that we always got.
I was so wrong. My teacher pulled me aside and tore into me about why I shouldn't skip on my birthday, why I shouldn't have missed the first day of classes, and if I wanted to stay in this class I'd have to get the work off of someone else. I was sitting there, still in pain and kind of sick, trying to explain to him what was going on, and he brushed it off like I was making excuses.
Twenty minutes later, I puked and told him I was going to the office to sign out and go home. He thought I self-induced it, and said, "You're 17. I can't stop you, but I'm going to make this year miserable for you if you leave". I left because I was about to puke again and was sick of his nonsense. For the next two weeks, I was going to school on and off, still in pain.
I found out I had Bell's Palsy and for the next two months, I was at home, with half of my face paralyzed, unable to hold any food down. My mother called the VP and told her not to send any work home, as I was in no condition to do it. After a few months, I got better, so I went back to school. I missed a lot of work. I asked my English teacher if I could get some of the work that I had missed so that I could bring up my mark and get credit for the course.
She told me that my homeroom teacher had been going around to all of my teachers, collecting the work I had missed in a package for me to come to pick up. Because it was picked up by him, the teachers couldn’t give me a no-mark on the work, because I allegedly had the assignments. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
I went on to explain what I had just gone through and how there was no way that I could have done it.
She understood but couldn’t change any of it, so I had to go to the Vice Principal to talk to them about this. The VP couldn't overturn the marks because it was past midterms, so I ended up failing my English. However, the VP was able to expunge the entire semester from my record, at least. All of this was because my homeroom teacher thought I skipped class because it was my birthday.
47. Betting On Failure
I had an English teacher fail me for the year by half a point. She did this by grading my senior essay just low enough to fail me. I was not allowed to participate in graduation, was grounded, forced to go to summer school—which I had to pay for—and had to keep a bad job for a few extra months until I got my diploma. One day, at the beginning of the summer, my father was working at the high school.
It was not his usual assignment; the teachers there didn't know who he was. That's when he learned my teacher's terrible secret. He overheard her talking to another teacher while they were cleaning out their rooms. She was bragging about how she had won the pool of how many students would fail for the year. It was the third year in a row she had won. She said she had a foolproof system—grade everyone hard, and keep a bunch of kids right around failing.
She was always the last one to turn in her grades, slipped the secretary $50 for the fail count, pass or failed enough to win, and walked away with the pool winnings of over $5,000. My father flipped out and started yelling at her right there in the hallway. Teachers were coming out of every classroom up and down the hall. I was two hallways away, in summer school, and I could hear him from there.
I went running to find out what was wrong. The only person I had ever known him to yell at that loud was me. He was calling her every name in the book, saying she was a disgrace, he would have her job, sue her for everything she had ever earned—you name it. She got all high and mighty, wanting him fired for yelling at her until she found out the person she was bragging to backed up my dad, and not her.
The second teacher was about to go to the principal herself. Soon the principal showed up and took everyone involved down the hallway to his office. Every teacher in the hall just stood there, watching her squirm, and giving her the stink-eye. No one was on her side. She "retired" that summer and never taught again. Two other kids she failed just like me were not going to summer school and were never going to graduate.
My dad raised enough of a ruckus with the administration to go over the records and give them a diploma. I, and three others in the class with me, were still made to finish summer school, but it was a lot easier knowing we didn't deserve to be there.
48. Right Answer, Wrong Outcome
I missed a day of high school, and of course, on the next math exam, I hit a question that relied entirely on material learned that day. So, after finishing the rest of the exam, I spent a solid half hour staring at the problem, trying to figure out how I was supposed to solve it. I even begged the teacher for hints since I was sick. They said, "You should have studied the material you missed”!
I eventually wrote down some math that made sense to me and handed it in. I got my exam back at least a week after the rest of the class, while my teacher consulted with the principal and the other math teachers on what to do about my answer, which was correct. I had used a formula we were supposed to learn two years later, so I got a zero on the problem for not having learned the material. The teacher said, "We're not testing for your ability to improvise".
49. All Or Nothing
I have always been a voracious reader. When I was in elementary school, they had a series of books that you had to read and then do the answer sheet with those cool invisible pens. We were encouraged to go at our own pace and turn them in as we finished. I thought they were interesting and fun, so I started on them right away. I also thought they were easy.
There were a total of 25 books in the series. I was on number 22 about halfway through the first term before Christmas break. The teacher pulled me aside and said I was doing them too quickly and that I had to wait for the rest of the class to catch up. So while the other kids read their books, I had to sit at my desk for an hour or two each day and do nothing.
I was not allowed to read, do homework, or do anything. The rest of the class never did catch up, and I finished the entire school year at the same place they stopped me.
50. I Lost The Fight
In elementary school, I ate lunch in the school lunchroom. One day, someone yelled, "Food fight", and everyone started throwing food. I did not. As food was flying around me, I simply sat and ate. Some friends tried to get me involved, but I said, "Nope, I'm not getting in trouble". Afterward, the principal called in everyone who had been in the lunchroom.
Most of the kids were scared, but I had the righteousness that I had done the right thing. I was innocent, so when the principal started to speak to the group, yelling about what a disappointment we were, I raised my hand and said, "Sir? I didn't throw any food. I had nothing to do with this". The principal replied, "I don't believe you".
The other kids didn't hesitate, and said, "He's telling the truth. He didn't throw anything". The principal paused for a second. I was sure he was going to say, "Oh, you can go then" and I even took a step toward the door. Instead, his response is forever burned in my mind. He said, "It doesn't matter. You've probably done something you deserve punishment for".
He suspended me for a week, the same as everyone else. He then insisted we all apologize to the lunch lady. I refused. I was angry about getting suspended at all. I said, "I didn't do anything to apologize for", so then he suspended me for another week. Those who were involved got one week, and I, the guy who knew right from wrong, got two weeks. That moment destroyed my faith in the system. I learned that being innocent didn't matter.