Teachers are accustomed to students who don't do their work and come up with fanciful excuses. (Keep in mind that this isn't to say that all students are bad; it's to say that teachers know what to expect having had every type of student!)
I had classmates who used the whole "dog ate my homework" thing and I don't think I ever had a teacher who actually bought that. Nor do I think the teachers would have known how to react had the excuse been true!
After Redditor PalliasFriend asked the online community, "Teachers of Reddit, what's the craziest excuse a student told you that actually turned out to be true?" educators shared their stories.
"I had a very polite young man..."
I taught a non-credit ESL class for adults. I had a very polite young man from an African country in my class who would sometimes be absent for 2-3 days in a row. It wasn't a huge deal because our class only had one pretty basic exam at the end of the course. When I asked him why he had missed class (out of concern—sometimes I had students with major family problems or illnesses or whatever), he would just say vaguely, "I had to go out of town."
One night I went to a game of my local pro indoor soccer team, and there was my student, announced as part of the starting lineup! He was "out of town" because of the away games.
A kid told me once he peed himself because he was scared the toilet was going to drown him.
Turns out his brother had been holding his head underwater every time he had an accident.
"The principal asked her..."
A student (14) brought alcohol to school. He was the troublemaker type so everyone thought he was consuming alcohol at such a young age, while he was denying it vehemently and said that his dad must have put it in his bag unknowingly. Unbelievable, I know. He was sent to the counselor immediately while his mother was called. She was adamant that her son could never touch alcohol. The principal asked her to keep an eye on the student anyway as teenagers are unpredictable, the student got detention for a week, and mandatory counseling session.
Turns out, his dad did put the alcohol in his bag but not unknowingly. His parents were in a process of getting a divorce and the student was living with his mother. That morning his dad picked him up to take him to school and hid a bottle in his bag. From what we've heard, his dad is an alcoholic and real abusive and his mum was getting a divorce. The dad was facing the possibility of jail time so he tried to build a case against the mum by showing that she is manipulative and controls people around her by getting them addicted to drugs and alcohol. Evidence was that she was turning their son into an alcoholic too.
"I was a student teacher..."
I was a student teacher and they placed me at one of those special schools for students that have learning disabilities, troubled homes, etc. I had one student whose dad was driving her to school and another teacher cut him off in the parking lot. He gets out of the car and goes ballistic on that teacher and then pulls out a knife to threaten them.
Poor student had to watch the cops arrest her dad in the school parking lot and then still attend class that day. I left her alone to do whatever the hell she wanted to that day.
"My wife had a student..."
My wife had a student that left her class about 15 minutes into class every day. After about a week of this, she asked him what's up. He looked her dead in the eye and said if he eats breakfast in the morning he will need to crap at that time every day. She asked the hall monitor to check up on him and sure enough, he went to the bathroom every day like clockwork.
"They told me..."
They told me they couldn't study for a test because some rapper had broken into their house the night before and robbed them and they were too traumatized to study. I did not believe them but then the rapper got arrested for burglary and the local newspaper ran a story on it and it was actually a true story.
"The student claimed..."
The student claimed the book caught on fire. I just said, Sure it did. The next day he showed up with a copy of an insurance claim. Turns out he left his book by a space heater, the kind with heating elements, setting said book on fire as well as his homework. The pics of his rug, scorched, sealed the deal.
"Showed up late..."
Showed up late to a college final because his neighbor's apartment was on fire. He smelled like fire smoke so I gave him an extension on the time limit.
"The next day..."
I taught GED prep classes, and I had a student raise their hand and say, "I need to go. Someone is robbing my house."
The next day I asked her about it and she told me it was her mom. On drugs.
A student, tween-aged, needed to go to court to give a character reference for her father. He was trying to adopt his deceased girlfriend's children after she died in a tragic accident. The student couldn't stand the kids her dad was adopting, but she knew it was the right thing. That was the first turned out to be true story.
Fast forward to online quarantine school and the same student tells me they no longer have any books because one of her adopted siblings hid them in a vindictive emotional state while at dad's house. I'm friends with the student's mom (dad's ex-wife) and I didn't believe it until the mom confirms this. I then told the student I would send digital images of anything they needed. Once the books were finally found 3 weeks later, I made a deal with them to leave them 100% of the time at their mom's and for them to ask me for digital versions whenever the student was at dad's house.
The kid has had a very hard life, but I already know they will be someone amazing as an adult!