Teachers Share The One Thing A Student Said That Made Them Think ‘There Is No Hope For You’
Teachers have the incredibly hard task of not only teaching but babysitting, protecting, feeding, and inspiring children. It’s a thankless job that doesn’t pay all that well on top of it all. But hey, somebody’s got to do it.
Every day, hundreds of kids walk in and out of their classrooms, all coming from different family, friend, and life troubles. You can only imagine the types of interactions and conversations a teacher has with each of them. And let’s face it, when we were in school, we never missed a chance to slip in a smart aleck comment or two.
We took to Reddit to find the most shocking reactions from students as told by their teachers. Get ready to laugh, cry, and genuinely worry about our youth.
#25 It Wasn’t Me
I’m a second-grade teacher. I have a boy who lies constantly, about anything. He was on camera, watching the footage of himself punching a student in the face and he crossed his arms and said, “If I didn’t do it, then I didn’t do it.” The worst part is him mom believes every word he says and attacks the school for making him accountable for his actions. He’s going to do something as an adult and go to jail. When they pull him away I know he’s going to be yelling, “If I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it!
#24 Like Father Like Son
My wife told me this story about a time she was lecturing a kid on why he should try to do well in school. She asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up… his response “I want to be in jail. That’s where my dad and uncle is.” She had no response. Probably the only time in her career that she was left speechless by a student.
#23 No Multiple Choices
I had a senior say she didn’t think it was “fair” (I’ve grown to hate that word, by the way) that my exams used short answer questions instead of multiple choice. She said, “some of us just aren’t good writers!” I responded that if you’re a senior in college and can’t string a few sentences together, something has gone wrong. She stormed out of class.
#22 He’s Got It All Figured Out
“I want to be an adult substance dealer, but the cool kind. You know, the ones that wear a suit and carry a briefcase.” He was 17 at the time and completely serious. He was expelled a month later for jumping another student.
#21 I’m Getting Married Soon
I had one student at a bilingual school in Mexico, who after being at this school and supposedly learning English for 5+ years, still couldn’t speak it and barely tried to make any effort to learn anything. She didn’t do assignments and failed almost every test. When we mentioned it to her parents, their attitude was that she doesn’t really need it because she will just marry someone who will take care of everything for her. My thought was, “Who would want to marry someone who doesn’t know anything and makes no effort?”
#20 Breaking The Internet
I had a kid (totally serious) say: “I’m going to drop out. I’ll make money off of YouTube” Me: “how many views are your videos getting?” Kid: “I have 4 subscribers, so I just need a few more.”
#19 That’s What You WANT To Happen?
A girl (8th Grade) told me she wanted to have kids (2-3) by the time she was 18 so she could have the energy to keep up with them and then be a professional dancer to support them.
#18 Too Much Pressure
There was this kid named Lawrence who was one of those typical wallflower catholic kids I grew up with. His dad was in our scout troop as a leader and was really meticulous. Like everything had to be just so. In the late 70s, most of the troop leaders had a relaxed dress code, but Lawrence’s dad dressed like a 1940s scouting manual model, complete with a brown uniform and wide-brimmed hat. Everything was pleated and pressed. His dad drove an old MG roadster that was constantly breaking down. They were upper class, and the mom was not in the picture.
But the way Lawrence’s dad picked on him was brutal. “Stand up straight, Lawrence. Chin up. Be a good lad, chest out. Chin up. Lawrence? Don’t go over there; it’s dirty over there! Lawrence? Stand straight and tall when I address you! Don’t be rude, wait until I have started eating before you start. Lawrence? Do I have to raise my voice, Lawrence?”
By high school, Lawrence just gave up. He wasn’t perfect enough so why bother? He stared into space. He attended school in person only; just a blank and hollow shell. His clothing didn’t change, it only became dirtier. His hair got long. He lost weight, and his clothes just hung on him. I think the only way to deal with his dad’s control issues was passive resistance.
By his senior year in high school, he flunked out. Not sure what happened to him after that.
#17 School Just Isn’t For Me
I had a student who has a severe mental disability but was quite gifted in maths. He has told me, other adults in the room, the special education department head, and school psychologist that he is going to drop out of high school to be a YouTuber. His mom and Dad really don’t agree with him on this, but he is really serious about it. You can see it in his eyes.
In other news, it seems that the generation of students I have now wants to be either YouTubers or professional video game players. I was born in the late 80’s and when I was their age, I remember having classmates being sternly told the actual statistics of them becoming professional athletes. I still have 2-3 former classmates (I graduated high school in 2007) that are dead set on making it into the NFL, but never played in high school or college. I feel this is the same with the kids I am seeing now. They do not truly understand the extremely low chance of them getting a profession through social media.
#16 Problems At Home
I had a student who was always acting up. I constantly tried talking to him about his behavior, and I wrote plenty of referrals. Throughout all of this I would email and call his mother, but never got a response.
One day he was pacing around and texting someone. I told him to put his phone away and he said “I cant. I’m not too happy right now,” so I said, “Will you take it out to the hall and I’ll give you one minute?”
His response really shook me. He said “No, I’ll sit down. I just want my mom to turn the water back on.”
When all you know about a student is what you see in the classroom, it can be easy to forget they may not have a great home life. So I did wonder “Is there hope for him?” but it also wasn’t truly any fault of his own. He just had a bad home life where he was stricken by poverty.
#15 Old School
I teach Computer Science at the university. I get a lot of freshmen that plucked the major because they heard it was a high paying major but don’t actually like the subject.
The worst was a recent student that asked if they could just do the assignments by hand. They didn’t want to use a computer, they didn’t really like using them. “People use computers too much, I don’t like doing that.” He also thought computers could do too much and wanted people to stop using them. This is a programming course. For computers. In a major about making computers do things. You are going to need to use a computer.
Needless to say, I told them this probably wasn’t the major for them.
#14 Street Survivor
I have had one student who was in year 9, who the more I got to know him the more I realized he was really misfortunate. Not only could he barely read or write, even his own name was a struggle, and he lacked any life experience that even the hard cases I worked with had. Anyhow, he was gifted at shoplifting and knew how to survive on the streets for weeks if necessary. He had been removed from his home more than 10 times and always ended up being returned. He begged for help from various departments and agencies to no avail.
I did what I could and sometimes more than I was allowed and taught him the most basic reading and writing. One day he casually mentioned his plan to end his life as that was the only positive thing he could look forward to. I got him in a professional support group, which he quickly left, as he has no trust in professionals. The short version of outcome is he is still alive and has been returned to his ‘family,’ he no longer attends school, still plans that one day he won’t be around but keeps in contact with me during his ‘hard times.’ I struggle to understand what he has already been through in his life. I can’t imagine where he will end up (don’t want to) and I am afraid of the day I hear he is not around anymore. I do have hope for him but experience tells me…
#13 No Love
I had a first grader throw chairs and desks at me for about a week (after 2 months of horrific behavior that the parents and administration ignored), one hard enough to injure my knee, before I finally had enough video evidence for the principal to get involved. He (student) refused to speak to me at all. Eventually, my co-teaching partner got him to explain why he was doing it. “I just don’t like him.”
I feel bad for the kid. He has serious emotional problems. I don’t know if I’d say there is no hope left, because 1st grade is pretty young to write someone off. I hope he gets treatment.
#12 Hope He Gets Better
I had one 4-year-old who couldn’t hold a pencil. He couldn’t remember how to pick it up and didn’t have the strength to push it down hard enough on the paper to get any leverage. He couldn’t color, and he had no motor skills whatsoever. He didn’t have a dominant hand. His parents liked to leave him at my learning center for an hour, even though he couldn’t use the bathroom on his own. He was 4 years old and didn’t have the slightest grasp of the alphabet, and couldn’t retain anything we taught him. It took a month to get him to count to 10.
My theory on all this is, on top of a learning disability/developmental delay his mom was in denial of, he was a natural lefty who was forced to use his right hand but, because of the disability, couldn’t, and ended up not developing any motor skills in either hand. Poor kid.
#11 Mommy Said So
My wife had a student in 3rd grade who refused to do any writing assignments. My wife told him that she was going to call his parents to explain to them what was going on if he didn’t start doing his work. He said, “I don’t care. My mom said I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. Rules don’t apply to me.”
My wife called his mom and his mom told my wife that she (meaning my wife) just has to understand how her son is and if he doesn’t want to do the work, then he doesn’t have to. His behaviors all made sense after that and it was a very tough year. He stopped doing all work and started harassing other kids (probably partially due to boredom since he was doing anything else by the end of the year). As long as he was happy, my wife couldn’t get the mom on board.
#10 Mr. Sunshine
I taught lower elementary. Most teachers will get frustrated at some point by how hard it can be to get a child who may be lacking upstairs some extra help. This was the case with one of my favorite students. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t do any of the work that his peers were doing, due to his incredibly low IQ, he was performing “at his ability level.” But he was just SO NICE to everyone.
I had set aside time every day to help him with his reading. We were using the short story of the ugly duckling. It had one short sentence on each page and after two weeks, he could get through it with minimal help. However, reading the words isn’t all there is to reading. I had asked him if he could tell me what the story was about since we had spent time on it every day for the last two weeks. He starts his oral retelling off great and I’m super excited. This is a HUGE deal for my man because up until this point, I couldn’t get any retell or comprehension out of him. I’m super pumped and he is feeding off my energy and he’s so proud of himself. This kid is glowing.
We are only 3/4 through the story though. We come up to the end of the Ugly Duckling and he’s telling me that the duckling CHANGES (this word took him forever to say, much less read!) But then he stops. And goes into this deep think stage. I prod him a little bit- “He changes? What does he change into bud?” He brings his eyes back from the ceiling and then with the biggest smile, he shouts out “A butterfly!”
#9 Ain’t Got That Time
A student last term never purchased the textbook (and thus never did his homework), sat in the back and spaced out all class, failed one exam, and barely passed the other. He came to me during the final week of class to ask me if he could do all of his missed assignments and then asked why I didn’t remind him to do them. Bro, this is a university. I’m not chasing after you.
#8 Badly Influenced
I work at an alternative school for kids kicked out of public school for severe emotional and behavioral issues. A lot of them are going to require government services for the rest of their lives. There’s usually not just one thing they say, but we know that they will never have normal lives.
It’s a little disheartening to hear a six-year-old scream that he’s going to end your life, especially when you were playing tag not five minutes before.
There’s a young boy who can be very sweet and is an adorable blonde butterball. However, he has pretty severe behaviors and gets restrained at some point on a daily basis. I saw his parents one day because they live in government subsidized housing close by and they walk him to school. It was 50 degrees out and the little boy was in a basketball jersey and shorts. His parents looked exactly how I expected them to look and were rude to all the staff they interacted with. It just showed me that no matter how much we do, he spends most of his life with his parents.
#7 Clueless Kid
After months of learning about maps and cardinal directions in our grade 9 geography class. “Is North always the way you are facing?”.
There is no helping you, kid.
#6 I Just Wanted A Reminder
I asked my students what they could have done to better prepare themselves for their exam. One responded with “you should have told me to revise better.” The revision sheets and “this is really important” wasn’t enough apparently…
#5 What’s In Your Backpack
I had a student who was a hoarder. He was one of those kids that we all remember who had the backpack that was filled with everything for every class. It looked like this kid carried around a small grocery cart on his back. One day, I’m walking him to his locker to look for an assignment that I knew that I had given him before and I smell this nasty smell – big surprise – it’s his locker.
I open it to find 89 cartons of chocolate milk stacked inside. That’s not all. On the floor, he had a pretty large mason jar filled with what looked like dead bugs. I asked him why he had so much milk in his locker and he said stone-faced “To dip the bugs in.” I was never sure what happened to this kid when he left, but that was the most disturbing for me.
#4 Family Favourite
In elementary school, my sister was hauled into the principal’s office with my parents (and I got to tag along). She was caught being the lookout while a group of students beat up a boy. The boy’s parents caught the kids on video who were part of it. Back then (in the ’90s) catching footage like this was really strange, but there was no way beating another kid up or even being the lookout for this could be considered good behavior. My parents were mad, but not at my sister; just at the school and the boy’s parents for videotaping the incident and punishing my sister. Some parents, like mine, will never side against their favorite child.
#3 What’s A Continent?
7th grade, in the U.S.
On the first day of class, the students each said what they did over summer. One kid said he went to Germany. The kid sitting next to him audibly asked where that was, and if it was further away than Chicago?!
I thought he must have misunderstood what the first guy said, so I intervened. “Chicago is about 100 miles away, Germany is in Europe, that’s another continent entirely!”
The kid looked blankly at me and asked what that was. The word ‘continent.’ I was dumbfounded by his response so I gestured at the map of the world on the wall and pointed at the continents, thinking he must have learned them pronounced differently or something. But nope, he literally didn’t know what they were, and never realized that the “picture on the wall of the geography room was actually a map of the world“
He was in 7th grade, and he didn’t know what a continent was or have even a toddler’s level of understanding of what a map was.
#2 That’s Not My Work
I had my Year 2 private student try to flip/overturn his study table on me (it didn’t work. I slammed it down) and scream at me to write out his homework because that’s what his mom pays me for. There’s still hope, but it made me so sad and angry as soon as he assumed I was of a lesser position than him just because I was being paid. Like yeah, no. Bye.
#1 Literally Speaking
My brother teaches junior high in a very small, rural, low-income community. As a new teacher, he basically got the special math classes the other teachers wouldn’t take.
My favorite story… Apparently, it was a very naive move on his part to let them choose their own seats at the beginning. After the second week, he made a seating chart. It didn’t go over well and he told his students if they didn’t like it to write him a note with where they’d like to sit, fold it up, and put it in the trash can. By the end of the day apparently, there were 10 or so neatly folded suggestions in his trash can.