People Share The Worst Thing A Teacher Ever Said To Them That Destroyed Their Self-Confidence
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As a former teacher, I can tell you that the goal is to always hype up and encourage your students to reach their goals and be their best selves. As a former student, I can also tell you that not every teacher is like this. Unfortunately, there are a handful of teachers out there that use their position of authority to make them feel like they have power. I've seen it happen firsthand, and it's awful.

Sometimes, the people who we depend on for our growth are also the people who hurt our confidence the most. Here are a few examples from former students, who discuss the worst things a teacher could ever say to a growing kid.

U/f1rebird1523 asked: What's the worst thing a teacher has said/done to destroy your self-confidence?

It’s insane how full-grown adults can get away with abusing children while getting paid to do it.​

Even the other kids knew this was messed up.

I watched this happen to my friend in 7th grade. It was social studies class and my friend was one of those students where the common core curriculum was horribly suited for the way he learned.

One day he asked me if he could borrow a red pen (the teacher was too lazy to grade the papers herself so she'd have us do it at the start of every class)

The teacher caught on to it and literally yelled to me "don't you dare give him that pen." And proceeded to chew him out saying that he was a sad excuse because he was too lazy to remember a simple pen, called him worthless, and told him that he'll go nowhere in life because he can't keep track of simple things.

She spent the first half of the class continuously belittling him to the point where students were asking her to stop. Despite the fact that half the class reported this terrible treatment, she was not punished.


Way to permanently damage a child.

bad teacher fighting GIFGiphy

I had a Dutch teacher that used to pick on me always. Once before a presentation she told me that no matter how good my presentation was she wasnt going to give me a grade higher than a 5. I ended up almost having a panic attack in front of the class, told her to go f*ck herself and stormed out of the classroom. Got a 4 eventually.


This is so unbelievably petty.

I was nominated for a place in the Gifted and Talented program at my school. I was 10 or 11, and had precious little that I was proud of, but I could write like nobody's business. I was nominated for writing and was promised that I would not be tested on mathematics (worst subject then and now).

The teacher giving me the exam had a beef with my mom, and presented me with the mathematics test. I told her that I'd been told I didn't need to take it. She said it wouldn't count, just to do it. I did.

I don't remember much else between that moment and sitting in front of the panel, between my parents, silently crying and trying not to make eye contact as I was told I'd done so wretchedly on the mathematics portion of the test, which I wasn't supposed to take, that they were considering pulling me back a grade, and that the nomination had been a horrible mistake and should never have been made in the first place because the Gifted and Talented program was for "students of an outstanding nature and SkepticLinguist just didn't meet our expectations in mathematics." Did I also mention that the teacher who gave me the test was on the panel?

Saw that teacher later on, and she always gave me the smuggest smile before she flounced away. I was kind to her, as that was really all I had going for me at the time, but that messed me up for years, and still keeps me awake at night some times.

Jokes on her, though, I'm a published author now.


​Sometimes these things happen in the high school and college world as well, and can be equally traumatic.

What happened to constructive criticism?

I'm an architecture student and in my design class we'd usually have a panel of guest professors to critique on our projects. In one of them a professor just outright said "your design is boring" and that was it, no other comments or suggestions for improvement. I think another panel member noticed and quickly added in a constructive comment to save it. But that moment still hit me and I've lost a lot of confidence in my designs since then.


Why would you assume that?

mean girls no food in class GIFGiphy

When I was in high school I had this English teacher that was basically a washed up mean girl in her 50s.

She gave us an assignment about our goals and where we wanted to go after highschool. I wrote about my interest in music. She shot it down and told me that it would never happen, I would be lucky to get a job as a fast food shift worker.

I remember some other time I was casually talking to her and she asked where I lived for some reason. I described it to her and she got all confused, then asked me if if I lived in an actual house. She said she was surprised I lived in a house because she assumed I lived in an apartment or trailer or something.


This is a mess all around.

My mum would not allow a PC in the house, she saw them as the devils devices. (She’s very old fashioned and a bit mad if I'm honest) She was convinced that no high school in the world could demand an essay written on a PC.

One of my teachers asked for an essay and said it needed to be written on a PC and printed out. I tried to convince my mum but she was having none of it. She told me to tell him we couldn't afford one. I straight up did not want to say that because it was a lie and I knew the teacher wouldn't buy it and I knew that regardless, I would be bullied for being poor. I was already being bullied pretty bad at the time due to not having expensive trainers and clothes, so I wanted to avoid adding to the list.

I wrote the essay by hand, in the best possible handwriting, stapled the pages in order like a little book and put it in a little plastic thingy. I did my best.

Teacher ripped it up in front of the whole class and threw it in the bin. He refused to beleive there was a household in the world that didn't own a computer and yelled at me for being a lazy little smart a**. He compared the essay (which he did not read) to a dish rag. The class actually went silent and the bullies actually eased up a bit which I did not expect.

I returned home miserable and angry, told mum what happened. She still refused to allow a PC but conned someone else's mum to let me use theirs. The last was so nice to me and I could tell she felt sorry for me. Mum called her up and said "we are too poor for a PC can my daughter use yours?"

IF WE COULDN'T AFFORD IT I would have been ok with it. But we could. We could have got a second hand ancient little thing with just Word on it. It was just lies and that still irritates the f*ck out of me. And I hate to think what that a**hole teacher put other students in not-so-great circumstances through. More than anything I hate that there are people walking around that thought it was ok to make someone's life miserable because they were (as far as they could tell) too poor to have nice things.


​But more than anything, middle school seems like the worst spot for kids getting bullied by teachers. Here are some of the worst cases.

That’s the worst attempt at “motivating” I’ve ever seen.

Oof. Okay. Middle school seems to be universally bad for everyone but my older sister died the same year middle school started for me. Dealing with grief and undiagnosed ADHD + dyscalculia meant I was not a good student. People were decent that first year, but by the new school year and approximately 1-2 years after my sister's death I was being told by one of my teachers that I needed to be over it.

12-13 years old by then, struggling immensely and I can't adequately explain why doing things was hard for me so she just took the bad approach: I needed to stop using my sister's death as an excuse and get my grades up or else I was on the path to repeating 8th grade.

Other teachers were bad there too, with many of them using public humiliation against me having bad grades as an attempt to "motivate" me, but all it did instead was lead me to believe I was a failure.

That one teacher though hurt me so bad. I'm almost 31 now and I am realizing still how much shame I carry over my ADHD, the distrust I have for authority figures, and the fractured confidence I have that I'm capable of doing things. I work full time with a stable job, I have a boss I like working with, and I'm loved and married and have friends, but this still follows me.


That’s not only bullying, but also sexist.

sexist laci green GIFGiphy

I was doing poorly in school ~2006 because I was horrifically depressed. My 6th grade teacher took a special interest in "helping" since she knew my sisters so one time she made me stay after class and in a roundabout way accused me of being lazy and said "what will you do if your husband dies? how would you support yourself" and I burst into tears because all of my home issues stemmed from my dad dying from an aneurysm very suddenly the year before.

My grades started drifting even more after that so uh. Thanks Dr. Alexander.


That’s gotta be hard to begin with.

I moved to Germany as a pre-teen, and I didn't speak the language at all upon arrival - had to learn it as I went.

In my second year here, my mother decided to put me in an all-German school. My language skills were still quite shaky, so it was quite difficult. German class was the hardest.

I had this teacher who took a disliking to me for being a foreigner. He would constantly pick on me, and make me repeat things, saying he couldn't understand what I was saying due to my accent.

The cherry on top was when we had an exam, and we had to write an essay on a book we had read in class. I had severely struggled with the book, as it was written in a Berlin dialect - at the time I was barely able to read normal German, let alone a book written in a very heavy dialect. My teacher failed me completely on the exam, saying that I had not understood the task and my spelling and grammar were atrocious. At the time, my mother had a colleague who was a German teacher. She looked over my exam after I had gotten it back and was surprised that he had failed me - I had by no means done brilliantly, but it was still worth a passing grade.

Needless to say, I was devastated and was convinced that my German is terrible and I was no good, and I would never be any good and I simply suck.

Even today I am still a little self-conscious when speaking German, especially in public settings. Which is quite unfortunate, considering that I'm an interpreter...


Why would a child lie about that?

I had a teacher in middle school who would pick on me constantly. One time in the sixth grade there was this math problem and it had this banking term I wasn't familiar with cause you know I was 11 and didn't go to the bank. So I tried to do the problem on context clues and got it wrong.

The next day when she collects the homework she told me how could I get such a simple problem wrong. I tell her I didn't know the meaning of one of the words. She says I'm lying and even if I didn't I should have asked my parents. I told her my parents are immigrants and only my dad can speak English fluently and that he was at work when I wading doing my homework. She says I'm lying again about my mom not knowing too. She berates me some more until I have tears in my eyes.


Overall, as a former elementary school teacher I am getting so angry reading about all of these stories. However, I am of firm belief that if teachers were paid a better wage, we wouldn't end up hiring these kinds of teachers, and see this kind of behavior happening.

Teachers, treat your kids better. They're just small people that don't understand everything yet.