It really is often not the student's fault when they're acting out. Crazy behavior in the classroom can so easily mirror crazy circumstances at home.
More often than not, teachers learn this lesson the hard way: through parent teacher conferences, phone calls, or other events in which they are unprepared to meet the source of crazy, erratic, or disrespectful behavior.
Training For Klepto CollegeGiphy
Elementary teacher here. We had a student who wouldn't stop stealing things out of other kids backpacks. We had caught him on camera and would call the parents and they would just say "no, that's his insert stolen item, we just bought it for him." Then, we get him on a positive behavior plan and create intentional lessons about empathy to others, setting goals to get what you want, the difference between wants/needs etc.
Eventually, he gets enough positive days in a row that he gets released from the behavior plan and receives a free bike as his incentive for good behavior (they were donated to the school by a local bike shop). The next day he tells me his uncle stole it and pawned it. He went right back to his old behaviors and it was heartbreaking.
That's No Parking Space
I had a student last year who was new to the school. Really nice, friendly, shy and hilariously absent minded. He would come to school at least 2 days a week with either his shirt on backwards, inside out or both.
So I wanted to talk to his parents about how his absent mindedness was affecting his learning. Mom shows up at 5. Dad shows up 1hr late. We have a good chat and they get up to go. As I'm walking them out I said I will show you the shortest way to the parking lot.
The dad replies with I didn't park in the parking lot so I said "You can go the same way to the street." He said "I couldn't find the parking entrance so I just drove around and parked on asphalt play area." Sure enough I walk by and his car is next to the play ground.
So it all came together after that.
When It Crosses The Line Of Sad
This one's sad. I was a camp counselor and I had a girl in my cabin with issues. She was attention seeking, kind of a mean girl, and generally wasn't liked by a lot of the camp. I honestly didn't give her a lot of 1 on 1 attention, which is something I deeply regret in retrospect. I only understood the issue because I was bus staff. This was a sleepover camp.
Her session was 2 weeks and her parents had elected for her to take the bus back and they'd pick her up. The bus was early but plenty of parents showed up early they were so excited to see their kids. As we got closer to pickup time, the crowd dwindled until there were just a few left.
A staff member asked for the kids still there so they could make phone calls. All but one were in traffic and on their way.
My camper's parents said no. They said they had two more days of freedom, they wouldn't take her, and said we needed to put up with her for a couple more days. They each said this individually and hung up. Neither responded to follow-up calls. Staff told me to go home and they were left to figure that one out. My parents always hated me, but this was shocking to me. That someone's parents would absolutely refuse to let their 12-year-old into their house.
High school teacher, and we have something called Soft Lockdowns (known as Shelter in Place by some schools) where doors are shut and locked but classes continue as normal. These are pretty common and can be used for anything from a medical emergency (want everyone out of the hallway if someone needs to be cared for, because high schoolers are nosy) to a fugitive running around the neighborhood.
We've been in many soft lockdowns because parents have come to the school ready to hunt down and beat the crap out of a teacher. They usually come in the front office (can't access the rest of the school without someone opening the secured door) screaming, cussing, threatening everyone in the area, you get the picture. Often, they're removed by the SRO and given a criminal trespass citation.
We have a pretty high rate of fights and violence between students. When I see parents acting this way, it all make sense.
A bit different because this is a positive story!
I'm not a teacher but I TA'd for a freshman chemistry class last year, so college kids but ones that were in high school like three or four months previously. One kid in my section was amazing: scary smart, always got great marks on assignments, asked fantastically phrased questions that the professor loved to answer, was a joy to be around during the lab section because he was so easy to be friendly with; he clearly loved and excelled at the work and enjoyed being in the environment, which definitely extended to the rest of his lab group (they were consistently the most talkative but also got the highest marks on assignments).
About halfway through the semester we introduce a concept that he struggled with a bit so he came to a few tutoring sessions and he was a joy to help 1 on 1. Our third tutoring session was in the campus Starbucks and went late so he had to get his dad to pick him up because his ride to campus that day had already left. His dad came a bit early so he ordered a drink and sat down with us for a bit and I immediately understood where this kid got everything from.
His dad was wicked smart (asked relevant questions in a way that made me think about the material in serious depth, same way that his son did), cracked a couple of dad jokes that made me laugh, and was beyond easy to talk to, to the point where we had stayed an extra 30 minutes beyond what we were supposed to, swapping between going over the material and cutting up. Just a joy to be around from day 1 until the day of the final and the apple clearly didn't fall far from the tree.
I had a student many years ago, call him M. He was a sweetheart in the classroom, never answered back, did as he was told, engaged and interesting. But, outside of class, he wasn't allowed to be around other students, escorted class to class, because he would start a fight EVERY time, and i mean that. I could not wrap my head around it, until Parents Evening.
His Dad was a hulk of a man, mother was sadly deceased. He was clearly abusive. He kept his hand on the back of M's neck, leading him around like that. M looked like he was going to his own execution. Was told later that authorities were involved, but M lashes out all the time because it was the only time he felt he had some control. Would never talk back to an adult because he was just scared of us all. He didn't make it the year before he disappeared, but I still think about him.
The Lies, Margaret, The Lies
I had a student who repeatedly lied about assignments, saying he'd turned them in and his teachers had lost them. As a team with admin present, we conferenced with mom and dad, who deflected and provided excuses that he just "doesn't like school," and, "if my son says he did something, he did it. We value integrity in our family." Three months later some friends of mine invited me to a bar a few towns away to see a band perform. Near the end of the night, I ran into the mom who is out on a date with a man who isn't her husband. From that point on, she wouldn't return any of my emails or calls about the son's behavior. She is now an administrator in another county.
No Devils Here, Son
I teach elementary music but I also assist in before school care. There was one boy (3rd grade) who was sitting at a table with several other students. One girl was attempting to engage with the boy and he abruptly stands up, points at the girl, and screams "YOU ARE THE DEVIL". Obviously at this age there needs to be intervention because you can't talk to other in that fashion or with that language. We always try and talk through emotions rather than explode.
Call the mom and explain the situation. The moms first and only response is "Well, if he called her the devil, she probably is the devil"
Pretty clearly can tell where that behavior comes from.
Not me, but a friend of mine is a professor at a Christian college. They had a student who wanted to do a topic about how "being gay is a sinful choice" and the only source they listed was their dad. When the teacher said that their assignment needs to be something that has academic backing, the student responded by claiming that their dad is an expert on the "choice of gayness".
I See MyselfGiphy
Not a teacher, but am a parent. The story I always think of when I see a question like this is when I had a routine pre report card conference with my son's first grade teacher. She was telling me about how he didn't take some of his school work seriously and sometimes didn't finish it.
As an example, she took out a handwritten book that he had written about penguins as an assignment. It started out nice, with legit penguin facts, and then after the first ten pages, it became a bit silly and then ended abruptly with: "A penguin has never seen a leprechaun."
I started laughing; I couldn't help it. I was doubled over gasping for air, crying from laughing so hard. The teacher obviously didn't think it was funny, and seemed surprised that I was cracking up, but she politely conceded that "maybe it was a little funny." I'm 100% sure that she thought to herself, "ugh that's where he gets it."
She Probably Don't
I called home because a kid was coming to school inappropriately dressed every day. I'm not playing the "girls's bodies are distracting" card, I'm worried because the kid is dressed like she's about to work a corner. Of course I don't put it that way to mom, I just mention the kid is violating the school dress code and start to explain how when I'm interrupted with " You just jealous cause you don't look as good as she do "
This Is What We Call "Awful"
I had these two teenage girls in my class who were best friends, but they started acting really strange around each other. A couple days into this weird behavior I heard a loud commotion outside my classroom. Both of the girls' fathers were having a fist fight right outside my room, and the girls were screaming like banshees. I found out later that one of the girl's dad had been banging the friend and she spilled the beans.
When It's ALL GeneticGiphy
Had a kid in 3rd grade who could not focus. All over the place. ADHD for sure, though it's not my job to diagnose. Mom came in for report card. I couldn't get the mom to focus. Every time I'd start talking about something ("So, here are your son's reading grades... Here's how he did in comprehen..." "How about math? How's he doing in math?" I'd try to redirect her, but she'd interrupt me to go onto something else. After a while I thought whatever, handed her the report card, and told her to contact me with any questions.
Not a teacher, but I had a kid in class, we were about 10 y\o, and he was a bully, hitting people and stuff. The teachers and the principal were being soft with him, trying to make him correct his ways. At the end of the year we had an activity where the principal talked in front of the whole school. The father of the said kid just came up, head-butted the principal, and sent her straight to the hospital.
It would have to be the mother who was a teacher herself, though not at my school. I got a rough draft from a student (who was 16/17) that was 90% copied directly from Wikipedia, hyperlinks and all. I called the mom and explained he would be receiving a zero for the rough draft assignment as a result of plagiarism. She called a conference to defend it because I never explicitly said they couldn't copy and that he should get another chance because it was a rough draft. Never mind the Honor Code each student signs at the beginning of the school year that explicitly laid out plagiarism and the standard consequence of a zero, I guess.
The Best Of The Best
Ive only seen one positive one so let me add another. I teach high school art, and I had one student who wasn't technically advanced but always was smiling and trying his hardest. He was always cracking jokes to his friends, to the point of where his friends would sometimes be annoyed cause they were the corny kind of jokes. But I was always laughing and he never gave up and keep smiling.
For the end of the year, if the kids took home all the artwork and took photos of their parents looking at their work and showed me the photos, they got extra credit. So he brought in photos of his parents looks at his work and oh my god they were hilarious! His mom and dad looking shocked and amazed in one, put on serious faces and hats and looking sternly at his self-portrait, ridiculous gasps and expressions, the whole nine yards. I laughed so hard! It made so much sense that such a fun loving kid had parents like that, that were willing to joke around for his extra credit.