Teachers Share The Worst Thing They’ve Ever Dealt With In The Classroom
We’ve all had that nightmare classmate. They don’t stop talking, their phone is constantly going off, they cheat on tests, and they sometimes even talk back. As students, we don’t have to deal with the behind-the-scenes nonsense that many teachers have to endure on a daily basis. Beyond late homework assignments and gum under desks, some teachers have really drawn the short straw with their students.
Pre-school and kindergarten teachers live in a constant storm of screaming children, petty squabbles, and bruised knees. We asked teachers to share their favorite horror stories. From bathroom accidents to know-it-all parents, teachers of all grade levels have come forth with their worst and most memorable stories from inside the classroom. Seatbelts, everyone! It’s going to be a wild ride!
#1 Juggling Act
It’s crazy just how much of a danger small children are to themselves and others. We have to catalog every playground injury, and while that practice is understandable in theory, is actually incredibly time-consuming. The kids have been taught to find a grown-up for everything, so one minute you’ll be applying ice to someone who ran into a post and then the next minute you’ll be filling in the same forms for the kid who wanted a bandaid because they have a hangnail.
#2 Fighting The Good Fight
Being confronted with the fact that I cannot help all of my students out of the gutter. I teach special ed, as well as students who got kicked out of every single school (even SPED schools) in the region to go to the school I work at. They have the most extreme behavioral and psychological issues. I was always a strict but respected teacher in my past jobs.
But at this job, students just won’t accept you no matter how hard you try and how nice you continue to be. Students insult me a thousand times, hit me and storm out of the classroom. Do all of those things as much as you please. It’s okay. I will never give up on you. I will fight the endless fight. And one day, I will be able to help one of you to a better life.
#3 Unsolicited Advice
Not always in class, necessarily, but my district has a “Bring Your Parent to School Day” which is NOT supposed to be an opportunity for parents to critique teachers, but it definitely ends up that way for some of us. This year, at the end of class, a parent came up to me and told me that my class was pretty disorderly, even though it was the best they’d behaved all year (mind you, this was a class of mainly freshman boys).
She didn’t like how many times her own son got up to sharpen his pencil. The same parent also told my colleague that he should have students who wanted to “learn” be on one side of the room and have students who didn’t want to ‘learn’ be on the other. The irony in that suggestion was that her son would be on the “doesn’t want to learn” side, but, as public educators, we’re not allowed to say anything. Just smile and nod, smile and nod.
#4 Field Day
I was doing relief and supply teaching at an all-boys school in North London. The school had a reputation for being difficult but never did I expect that I would have to try to break a group of 16-year-old boys commencing a game of tug o’ war across the science lab.
#5 Just Another Day In The Lecture Hall
I had a student, in university, who would come to class and watch television shows on his laptop. I don’t have an attendance requirement. I asked him to please just watch them outside instead of coming to class. He said he was very sorry and would not do it again. After that, he was still pretty clearly watching shows in class on his laptop, with the sound down, but would click away any time I came near. I don’t understand.
#6 Hindsight Is 20/20
When I was in college, I used to go to class and do just about anything else other than pay attention. Now as a professor, it annoys me to no end when my students do the same thing. Conclusion: kids are dumb. I follow teaching best practices like walking around, asking questions, etc. The subject matter is required, but not super challenging, yet they don’t really get it, which causes me to repeat myself in different ways on the same subject.
Only two to three students have a textbook. I’m not faulting them because I used to be them, as stated. It just wasn’t until much later in life that I realized that I should have paid attention in class and I’m kind of frustrated that they are repeating the same mistakes I made. On another note, some groups are better than others, but overall, I say that the distracting ones are the majority.
#7 I Have Questions…
The country I teach in sells energy drinks to the small children on their break. Then they come into class bouncing off the walls and they won’t stop talking. The absolute most stressful thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.
#8 Lakefront Property
One day, my kindergarteners were miraculously sitting and working quietly on their projects when one kid’s hand shot up in the air. I went over to her and she said, “I’m going #1.” Sure enough, there was a growing puddle under her chair. I swiftly got her out for a change of clothes and got her spot cleaned up while the rest of the class just kept working as if nothing were happening.
Another time, a 4th grader sprung up out of her chair and yelled at me, saying that there was water on her chair and she’d just sat in it. They were my first class of the day, and I had just taken the chairs down from on top of the tables, so there was no way I didn’t notice a wet chair. It was a little suspicious, but I told her to just get some paper towels and clean it up.
She did, then sat there for the remaining 45 minutes working on her project. When she left, I just had a weird feeling, so I called the nurse and told her to go check on this student, who, sure enough, wet her pants and was too embarrassed to admit it so she just sat in her own wet pants the entire class. I felt so bad, but I privately let her know that if it happened again I would never judge her, punish her, or make a big deal out of it. I called the janitor to disinfect her seat before my next class came in.
#9 A Principal With Too Many Principles
The principal is easily the most annoying thing about my job. At the first school I worked at, the principal would go to every classroom every day, sometimes multiple times per day. He and the vice-principal tried to micromanage every aspect of teachers’ classrooms. All it did was disrupt the flow of the class on a daily basis. It was my first year teaching so I didn’t want to say anything to him. Some of the more experienced teachers dropped some passive-aggressive hints during faculty meetings, but they didn’t help. I have no idea how to deal with someone who does this kind of managing.
#10 A Stinky Situation
I had a student one year who smelled awful. The moment he was in a certain radius, you’d get hit with a wave of BO that would knock you over. The smell was so bad that the next class would complain because his stank would linger. I felt bad because I actually liked him and thought he was nice. He had to have been bullied. I’d see kids putting their shirts over their noses and I couldn’t get mad at them.
It was really distracting. I felt so bad because I also didn’t want to go near him because he made me gag. We talked to his mom. The nurse gave him deodorant and said he could get some whenever he needed it. They even offered to let him use the shower in the gym. Nothing helped. The kid didn’t care about hygiene. There may have been a reason why. Maybe he was abused or no one taught him how to wash. But, the only thing that got rid of that smell is when the school year ended and I didn’t have him anymore.
#11 A Real Mixed Bag
Parents sometimes ask why I’ve not taught their 2-year-old to read. If they were ready and we had the resources to be able to sit one-on-one to teach them, I’d love to. But I’m too busy changing them, cleaning and doing pointless paperwork. Little Johnny got mad because I didn’t let him put the Lego up his nose or keep hitting Sally. There is a lot more to teaching than most parents think.
#12 Classroom Menagerie
My students once welcomed a stray dog in the room and it promptly vomited. The week prior, they had a dirty street pigeon in there, claiming it was a pet. It went #2 all over. I grew weary.
#13 No Room For Error
I teach English in a Chinese kindergarten nursery. Annoying maybe a tad strong of a word, but it is definitely inconvenient and counterproductive when the local teacher is over-eager. Some are taking an active part in the class, which is great, but oftentimes they step in to correct the kids and do so incorrectly ). Also, due to the different teaching approaches, and I guess impatience, they tend to push the kids and stress them out to give an answer without giving enough time to think and come up with something. To elaborate on the second point, I’d rather the kid gave me any answer by themselves, even if it’s incorrect so that we can correct it together.
#14 Little Lies
There are 30 students in my class, but only 27 names on the register. ‘Who hasn’t filled in their name?’ “We all have.” “No you haven’t, who hasn’t filled it in?” Silence. It’s amazing how people will argue that they have filled in their name when they haven’t.
#15 Rebel, Rebel
I’m a computer science teacher. One student liked to annoy the other students, so he found an online tone generator and set it to a frequency that older people wouldn’t be able to hear, but it would massively annoy his classmates. Thankfully, I’m not particularly old and I have fairly tuned-in hearing from a background in audio engineering so I could just mute his computer. The most annoying part is that if he put as much effort into his work as he did into creative ways to tick people off, he could do really well.
#16 Dramatic Flair
I was teaching freshmen Biology at my old high school last winter. I had a student that would dress in all black and he would always draw all over himself, stuff like demonic stars, symbols, edge-lord stuff. He had the Lorax fan fiction for his background on his school laptop, no joke. He would cuss at me and never do his work. One time, I handed him a packet and he threw it in the trash right in front of me and his special needs aid.
I was a pretty chill teacher too—the kids threw a party and got me a card and cookies on my last day, so I know I wasn’t that bad. He would always come to school with bandage wrap or a brace you can get at Walgreens, then come up with some story of what happened which was totally not true, such as: he fell off a three-story building doing BMX tricks, or he twisted his knee beating up his neighbor for trying to break into his house, or he hurt himself by crashing his mom’s stolen car after a high-speed chase by police. Yeah, sure.
#17 Perks Of The Job
I’ve been teaching in a North London secondary school for almost ten years now. I love the job but the annoying things have to be:
a) When you finally get students settled and working quietly but suddenly a spider, bee or fly appears. It’s game over at that point if you have less than 20 minutes of the lesson left.
b) Younger first-year students (11-years-old) who walk into the classroom and shout “sir sir sir” over and over again. Just go and sit down and be quiet. It’s not so bad if it’s one or two but when you have 10 of them trying to get your attention at the same time, it gets a bit ridiculous.
c) Bottle flipping. Do it and your bottle dies.
d) Students who laugh or attempt to make fun of others if they get a question wrong. Classrooms are all about making mistakes so it irritates the heck out of me.
e) Lying. If I call you out on something you shouldn’t be doing, just say “sorry” and stop doing it, you’re highly unlikely to get in further trouble from me then. Saying “I didn’t do that” is kind of insulting when I just watched you shove a handful of chips down your gullet.
#18 I’m Not Sick, I Feel Fine!
There’s a requirement in New York of how much seat time you have to have to pass certain classes. You need a certain number of labs to take the science regents, for example. Some dumb parents and students use all their “sick days” when they don’t feel like coming to school. By February, they’re usually cutting it close and come every day.
The annoying part? They come sick all the time! I’ve had kids go to the ER with the flu at night, then show up to school with a mask and 103 fever the next morning. Or they have some vomiting bug and jump up to take the trash can and bolt in the middle of my class. Or they “can’t see” with pink eye in both eyes. The worst part is the disruption more than anything else.
If you try to send them out, they freak out and parents call saying the school is out to get their kid. Schools get flagged by the state for dropout rates. If you have an actual doctors note, you get free private tutoring at a certain point from teachers at your house. So chronic conditions are totally fine and not an absence problem. Other than that, it’s just when kids decide to act all tough and try to tell you off.
About once every four to five years, I get one who decides they’re going to try to be cool and put me in my place. I’d also like to point out schools and teachers are graded on how effective they are based on state tests. That’s likely a reason why missing too many days is automatically a fail.
#19 At Least He Was Having A Good Time
I had a student years ago named Marco. Marco has Tourette’s and his ticks were usually calling out ‘Mom’, ‘Lily’ (his sister), and most often his own name. Try teaching Algebra when you hear “Marco!” And, without fail, a few kids yell “Polo!” All year long. Marco thought the exchange was hilarious and he was quite the popular kid.
#20 Not The One To Blame
Parents today that insist that everything is the teachers’ responsibility and ultimately everything is the teacher’s fault. Teachers: ”We have video evidence from multiple cameras and angles showing your child indisputably engaged in wrongful behavior and they are being disciplined accordingly in an attempt to deter this behavior from happening again. Hopefully, it will teach them a valuable life lesson that will better prepare them for dealing with other people in the real world.” Parents: “My child is perfect and I’m either calling a lawyer or starting a riot outside the school building. I haven’t decided.”
#21 Questionable Connections
This year. I have a kid in class who is a squirrely little boy. He thinks he is the funniest person ever. Also, he believes he is a gangster and will be a famous Soundcloud rapper because his song has 6,000 listens. He randomly shouts things like “gangstaaaaa” in class. The other day, I tossed him because I just couldn’t deal with him making parrot sounds. He would just squawk loudly for no reason. The absolute worst part of it is that he’s a dealer at my school and the other kids laugh at all his really stupid outbursts.
#22 Had It With The Fads
Bottle flipping and dabbing. To this day, the sound of a half-filled bottle of water landing on the floor fills me with rage.
#23 Can’t Be Bothered To Care
I’m an English teacher in a UK high school. I’ve been teaching full-time for about six months now, and (for me at least) the annoying things in the classroom are never just the one-off events, like a kid doing something awful or whatever. For me, the most annoying thing is the apathy of the average parent. Though some genuinely don’t care, most parents want their children to succeed, yet they do not help their child.
The problem then is basically this: without constant support and encouragement at home, a child is unlikely to succeed to a high degree. I’m fully aware that parents have jobs and commitments of their own, but school simply cannot be the entire delivery-system for education. Even a tiny bit of extra work at home would reap huge benefits in the long-term. The other big frustration for me is that, quite frequently, the best you get out of some students is their minimum effort.
Honestly, our facilities are the worst. Yes, kids and parents can be annoying, and attendance in our district is a huge issue, but I have yet to come across an angry parent I can’t win over or a child’s behavior I can’t improve. What I can’t do anything about is the fact that our HVAC system doesn’t work so my room is either freezing or sweltering. Our building is infested with mice and roaches. There is plywood where my window should be, I have broken pipes sticking up from the floor where a sink has been torn from the wall. I have no storage in my room outside of the shelves that I had to buy and build myself. I have literally spent thousands of dollars on my room just to try to make it a livable learning space, but outside of what I purchase, nothing about our facilities is appropriate for teaching early elementary.
#25 Um, Excuse Me?
I teach kindergarten at an international school in Cambodia and my boss is currently replacing the lock on my classroom door so I can’t lock it when I leave anymore. The other day, I was out on my break and I came back to my classroom early to 20 kids, three parents, and a stray dog all hanging out inside and going through my desk.
#26 Did Anyone Ever Have Luck With The Projectors?
I taught university classes. The most annoying thing I had to deal with wasn’t actually a student at all, but the projector, which broke and would flicker on and off every six seconds. It couldn’t be turned off. Three visits from IT support in one two-hour class later, they finally just pulled the plug out and I had to teach the rest of the class without a screen to explain with.
#27 Not Just School Teachers
I instruct volunteer firefighters. There’s one group that sticks out. They wouldn’t stop arguing with us for 30 minutes over one point on the test. Eventually, it got to the point where I had to just say, “No you’re wrong. That’s it, it’s over.” They were mad for the rest of training over it, and these were adults, mind you. It was about whether or not spinal immobilization starts when you leave the hall or when you stabilize the vehicle. They argued that it was when you leave the hall. We argued that it physically starts when you start stabilizing the car because then you’re actually doing something. It was ridiculous.
I’m sure other language teachers will have experienced this: when you ask a question in the target language (the language they’ve paid to learn), a simple question that’s suitable for their level, and the student looks at you. Then he or she turns, theatrically, to their neighbor and says in a whisper (in their mother tongue or common language, which you also understand to a reasonable level): “What is he saying?”
#29 Getting Out Of Hand
I was a teaching assistant. I basically coordinated behavioral intervention beyond classroom level so the teachers didn’t have to, so I was the one on the front lines. I dealt with soaked computers, electrical equipment, exercise books, kids, bottles breaking, and things getting stuck in the most ridiculous places. Then there was the dabbing. They’d be dabbing in the corridor outside classrooms, and when I’d come past them, they’d act like, “We’re dabbing… Miss is going to shout at us!”
“Guys, dabbing isn’t forbidden,” I’d reply. “There is no reason why we would forbid you from doing random, non-dangerous dance craze moves in the corridor. I’ve told you this before. I have no idea why you keep talking as if it is somehow forbidden. Other than you think I arbitrarily make up rules for no reason so you don’t really have to follow them, even though every time I make a point of clearly explaining.” That’s it isn’t it?
#30 A Semi-Wholesome Ending
One kid named Leo couldn’t sit for more than three seconds without popping up. I wanted to change my degree to child psychology just to figure out what was up with this kid. He would slap other kids, scream if you asked him questions, and disturb every classroom activity. Then, one day he asked me for a feather because we used them for experiments in class.
I said no because I didn’t want him to show it off to the other kids. He insisted, so I said, “Yes, but only if you clean the whole classroom,” and he did. After the class was let out, I ended up passing by and seeing him and his grandpa out of the corner of my eye. He was using the feather to try to teach his grandpa what we learned that day. Usually, his grandpa was super strict but this time he was laughing with the kid. I don’t know what the situation was with his parents but all I know is that day I realized there was no such thing as a bad kid, just good kids who need a chance to make the right choice.
#31 The List Goes On
When you explain something to the student, as if they have questions, and they act like they don’t. Two minutes later, it comes up again and they ask the same question. The cycle continues for an hour wherein they absorb nothing.
Hands in pants. Hands in the nose. Hands in the butt. Then they want a high five.
Putting no effort into writing legibly, then being surprised they can’t read their own writing.
“You didn’t give me homework.” Uh, yes, I did. I explained it to you in class and showed you examples. I sticky-noted it. I highlighted it. I had you write it on the homework sheet I made for you because you always say this. You had homework.
“Why aren’t you giving my child homework?” I am. If your child is lying to you and saying they don’t have any, that’s an issue you need to deal with. If you want me to tell you what the homework is, please give me your contact or come in to check on your kid’s progress after class. I’d be happy to talk to you.
Unrealistic expectations. So many parents want their children to suddenly be intermediate level speakers in a few months with only one lesson a week, and then pressure the kid unfairly.
Screaming. Kids screaming because they think it’s funny. All class. I get it, kids are kids, but when you’re not allowed to use their native language to discipline them and they’re beginning speakers, it creates a pretty maddening situation.
I have had a parent do the kid’s homework. Multiple times. She was surprised when I asked her to stop.
I love teaching kids, so most stuff can be viewed in a positive or humorous way, but these are some that get on my nerves. Overall, though, it’s really fun.
#32 Children Aren’t Robots
Parent: “How many words does my child memorize per week?” Teacher: “Fifty, but there’s more to learning a language than memorizing words. We practice speaking in sentences.” Parent: “I want my child to memorize 200 words per week or else I’m moving them to another school.” Sigh.
#33 The Most Ironic Username
I worked for a private religious school and I caught a girl cheating in my 7th grade Social Studies class. I passed it up to my principal for discipline and was told that the mom was difficult to deal with so I should just let it go because I didn’t have pictures of her cheating. They didn’t want to lose the tuition money. She came into my class very smug for the rest of the year because she knew she could get away with anything.
#34 Taking Things A Touch Too Far
I teach English as a second language in high school. When I just started teaching, there was this “YOLO SWAG” craze going on. I had this student who would just lean back on his chair and the only thing he would do is say “YOLO SWAG.” This is a 15-year-old boy I’m talking about. I teach at a normal school and this boy had no special needs indications whatsoever, he was just acting like an idiot.
In my country, we score tests from 1-10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best. This kid’s parents came to see me at a parent-teacher meeting and demanded that I explain why the heck their innocent little boy had got a 1 on his test. They were sure he must have written down some correct answers. Luckily, I always keep all the test the students take for exactly these kind of situations.
I triumphantly showed them the test he made. He had drawn a huge Plankton (SpongeBob) with a text balloon saying, surprise, surprise… “YOLO SWAG.” The mom looked at it and asked me whether it was a joke. I said, “No, and let’s talk about your child’s ridiculous behavior now because I refuse to teach him when he acts out like this.” I can tell you, it was a long year with this kid in class and I was genuinely happy that I didn’t see him in my classes again in the following years. He coincidentally wasn’t in the classes I taught, didn’t leave school or anything. I love my job and I can say I’m a good teacher who loves her students, but this kid really tested my sanity throughout that year.
#35 Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover
I volunteered to proctor a test for a local high school once and we didn’t have a dress code so I just wore normal clothes. The dean was super concerned that there was a random student walking around looking at tests, and barged in to ask where the proctor was. Three ID checks, a call to the lead volunteer, a weird conversation with the teacher, and 35 snickering students later, I had a red tag on my sleeve to distinguish me. The same thing happened the next day when a different teacher walked in and asked where her proctor was. I was sitting next to her desk, and she said, “Sorry, thought we had the local Marines coming to proctor for us!” I was one of the local Marines. I’m just a small woman.
I teach various computer courses to high schoolers. I remind students, on occasion, to use better and more appropriate words for the classroom and not foul language. Kids are clever. What they did was, en masse, go to Dictionary.com, look up a curse word, and proceed to hit the “pronounce now” button. From all around my room, in the robotic/synthetic computer voice we all know and love, came countless profanities. Clever. And I have to say, hilarious. Next day I had the IT guy disable all the soundcards in the room. Sorry kids!
#37 Faults In The System
A chain of British Education Secretaries who decided that any 11-year-old who doesn’t pass their Year 6 exams is a failure. That amazing progress you have made? Failed. Special educational needs? Failed. You’ve only spoken English for a year? Failed. Nothing promotes lifelong learning like being branded a failure at age 11.
#38 Nonsequitur Champion
I have this one student this year who always asks questions that are not on topic and it’s driving me insane. I’m teaching a unit on Holocaust literature and every day he asks questions about other things in the middle of directions. These were this past week: “What are plane tickets to Brazil?” “Can you overdose on cold medicine?” “Have you ever been to Japan?” “My favorite anime is JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. What’s the class’?” And every single time I call on him, he’ll say, “I have a question. My question is a little off topic but I think that’s okay because I’m curious. My question is…” I’ve stopped calling on him.
#39 Playing Their Game
I teach several different styles of youth martial arts. I’ve had to ban Fortnite dances. It was easy to do though. I told them they can do whatever emotes they want if they’ve got more total wins than me. My two solo wins, in 7 seasons, isn’t winning any battles. But thanks to carries from friends I’ve got a couple of hundred squad wins. Kids don’t know and it stops me from having to see dabbing or flossing.
#40 A Messy Situation, Handled With Grace
I was in the middle of teaching a kindergarten class and noticed one of the kids was passing gas… A LOT. Luckily, it was warm enough outside so I cracked a couple of windows without missing a step in my lesson or bringing more attention to the smell. A few minutes later, I realized that the smell was growing at an exponential rate and I had that terrible thought: someone had gone #2 in their pants and now they were either too embarrassed to tell me in front of their peers or scared they might get in trouble.
So, I decided my plan of attack would be to continue teaching my lesson as planned but actively walk around my classroom with an extra heightened sense of smell so I could literally “sniff out” the kid. Sure enough, I got to one of the tables and this one kid just smelled terrible. It was obvious she did this. I got the kids started on their art projects and asked this girl into the hall to have a chat.
I asked her if she went #2 in her pants and she said no. I asked her if she was sure and she nodded her head. We went back inside the class and the smell got even worse. A couple of minutes later, I asked the same girl back out in the hall and I told her she needed to go to the school nurse to get a change of clothes. After some convincing, I got her out of there and get things cleaned up on the sly so that way a lot of the other kids wouldn’t find out what happened and therefore wouldn’t tease the girl later. That was a rough day.
#41 An Unexpected Twist
A few years ago, a boy in my class screamed. He’d found white, sticky stuff all over the underside of his desk and it had gotten all over his trousers and hands (and then everywhere, as he’d wiped his hands all over my room). Cue my class casting all kinds of assertations over the cleanliness of the school, my room and, bizarrely, me. What had actually happened was the boy had brought in a tube of toothpaste himself and smeared it all over his desk. Just to cause a scene.
#42 Conflicting Opinions
I taught 7th grade English for a while and had a kid named Alfred. He was smart as a whip but obviously was in need of some special education services. I’m not a doctor, but he was either on the spectrum or had some sort of EBD. Huge outbursts, impulsivity, mood swings. Alfred happened to be black, and his parents were a school counselor and a social worker. To their credit, they know black boys are over labeled and are often in SPED when they don’t need to be. But Alfred really needed to be. He wasn’t receiving the support he needed to be successful because his parents were too proud or concerned with perception.
#43 A Valiant Effort
Once my students decided to start a strike in my class because I wouldn’t let them play games. They chanted “strike” until I gave them a pop test.
#44 Utter Chaos
I had a kid hitting a tenor sax with a hammer and had the nerve to lie and say it wasn’t him! I caught you in the act! Also, those Fortnight dances annoy me because they just break into them constantly for no real reason. I teach secondary school and you’d think they were beyond fads, but I see new and annoying ones each and every year.
#45 Expect The Unexpected, I Guess
One of my students threw a desk out my classroom window in a fit of rage because he had gotten called down to the principal’s office. It landed on the car of a classmate, shattering his windshield. This escalated into a fistfight between the two students which triggered an anxiety attack in one of the girls in the class watching the events unfold. Teaching can get wild.