Teachers get to know thousands of students throughout their careers, and some make a lasting impression - for better or worse.
ActualMoon asked: Teachers of reddit, who are your most memorable students?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
File this in the "for worse" column.
In my tenth year of teaching now. The student that tops my list is the 7th grader that broke his own arm. He thought that if he couldn't write he wouldn't have to take the state mandated assessments at the end of the year. So, he researched how to break his own arm, broke his own arm, and still had to take the state assessment. Not because he was provided a scribe but because he broke the wrong arm.
This kid loves his heritage.
I volunteered in a middle school class when I was working toward a teaching degree. (That experience helped me realize that teaching is not for me, btw, but this kid is cool)
One of the kids, I'll call him Juan, spoke very little English. He also had very few f*cks to give about school, and was usually goofing off. The teacher was giving an assignment to write a paper about "someone influential." She then started asking the kids who they'd like to write about. Someone said Martin Luther King, Jr. Someone said Maya Angelou. Someone said Neil Armstrong.
Juan yelled out from the back of the class. "AZTECAS!!"
"Yes, you can write about groups of people, like the Aztecs--"
He interrupted again, yelling at a mile a minute in Spanish about Teotihuacan and chocolate and the Nahuatl language.
"Yes! Put all of that in your paper! ...but we're in the library so keep it down!"
So Juan wandered over to me and drew a picture of a Quetzalcoatl. He showed it to me and said, "I'm so happy to do this project!"
I think the paper had to be two pages long. His paper was five pages long, not including pictures, and he asked me to be his proofreading buddy since nobody else would.
Learning languages is a sacred trust.
I was an ESL teacher in Taiwan for three years. I had a class of 9, 12 to 14 yr old boys. All were a little standoffish to me in the beginning and took a lot of coaxing and games to get them outta their shell. My last day one of the students who truly thought didn't give a f--- about me or my leaving wrote me a letter. At the end he had obviously translated a well known phrase from Chinese into English for me. It said, "There are no never-ending feasts." Perplexed, but grateful that he wrote something at all I went to the office to ask me boss what that meant.... my boss said the student who wrote it must have the utmost respect for me. It said; All good things must come to an end.
I cried and made sure they all got candy before I left!
That's awesome. I taught an ESL class one fall after a friend that had taught it for years had a stroke, and it was baffling both how hard and easy it was to teach English to nearly thirty students that spoke ten different languages that I didn't know. It was very fulfilling when it worked and very frustrating when talking about idioms.
Teachers gets taught.
I taught English online to Chinese kids over the summer. The classes were half an hour long and I taught new kids every class, so most of the kids just blurred together after a while, but my favorite was an eight year old kid who called himself Merlin.
The lesson I was scheduled to teach was on astronomy: names of the planets, basic words like "telescope," and famous historical astronomers like Galileo. I noticed right away that Merlin seemed bored with the lesson. He talked nonstop in near fluent English and he clearly knew a lot about astronomy.
I was trying to keep the lesson on track, but Merlin didn't want to be quizzed on simple vocab. He started telling me all about black holes, other galaxies, astrophysics stuff I've never even heard of. He was funny, too, and I ended up dropping the whole "teacher" persona talking to him like an adult.
This whole time I'm just assuming that astronomy is his thing - kids can really focus in on one subject - but then he starts going off on military history, too. I've gotta day one of the most surreal moments of my life was discussing the bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki with an eight year old who knew more about it than I did.
I was low-key devastated when class was over because I was having so much fun, and I think he appreciated having someone listen to him ramble about his weird passions. I feel like Merlin is gonna end up as supreme dictator of the galaxy someday.
Curing stage fright is a feat.
I was doing my teacher training in a performing arts college. Specifically working with the students on their vocal work/stage oresence/confidence. I had one student who was terrified of singing in front of anyone other than me her family and a couple of other people. Performing in front of the hundred + that would show up to their first recitals was simply never going to happen.
I try a few techniques with her. A song she knows without thinking about it. A difficult one she has to concentrate to perform so she's less focused on the room. The breakthrough came with something that happened to me. In college when I had the same thing.
My tutor stood me facing a wall. And had me perform. Over the course of the track he brought in as many of the other students in the college he could find in the vicinity of the room I was in. After I finished she'd he told me to turn round and I was presented with about 70-80 students all stood smiling at me.
I did this with her. Managed to get everyone in that building into the room. Students other tutors cleaners and everything in between.
She finishes and turns round. Sees them all and says sheepishly. How long have they been here. I said some before you started but everyone has heard you now. She sat down on the floor and took a moment to think. Then she stood up told me to put the music in again and did it again. Facing everyone.
When they'd all gone she asked if I had a moment. She said thank you gave me a quick hug and said she's been looking at ways to get over her confidence issues for years. And I'd done it in an afternoon.
Shes doing really well now. She didn't pursue music but she did pursue dance and she's now in a ballet troupe and is doing shows all over the country while they train her to be world class. Everything there's a show in our home city 2 tickets get sent to me. Lovely young lady. Immensely proud of her.
Did it though?
I had one student that looked me in the eyes and with a poker face said: "your class sucks!"
Now that was f*ckin' memorable.
Keep politics out of the classroom? Nope.
In high school, one teacher sort of shut it all down by saying that his (the complaining student's) parents voted in the school board, and if they were unhappy, talk to their parents about who they voted for, maybe he could teach something else then.
No one wanted to talk about politics, because many teens thought it was pretty lame, so no one in my class gave him issues after that.
God what a power move.
Teachers are incredibly undervalued.
I had a 16-year-old boy come to me after class. He was redoing his 4th year, but not a lot of people knew since he had joined only recently. He waited for everybody to leave, so it was obvious he wanted to ask or say something. I was expecting a trivial question about a test or task, but no.
He simply walked up and said "Thank you for being my teacher." I jokingly said: "It's OK, I'm getting paid for that." He smiled and replied: "Not enough. I struggled with these grammar rules for 4 years already and now I get it. You're the first one to manage that. The others always gave up on me." He walked out after and it might be the best compliment I got as a teacher. I think of that boy every time I teach those rules now. He smashed that test and year in general btw. :)
Wholesome my man! He's right you guys really don't get paid enough. Thank you for sharing.
Kid 1: Kid asked to borrow my stapler. I said sure. He proceeded to look me right in the eyes as he stapled his arm from wrist to elbow.
Kid 2: Joked about having a gun in class. Took a gum wrapper and put it into the outlet.
Kid 3: Was drinking alcohol in class.
Kid 4: LOVED sitting in the recycling bin. And was the first kid that called me Mom.
Kid 5: Loves me. And is very open about it. (In a non-creepy way).
Kid 6: This kid struggles. Struggles to focus. Struggles to behave. Him and I are close. He told a fellow colleague I was his favorite teacher because I refused to give up on him.
Not all kids are brats, cheers!
I work at a language school, and I had an awful group. They were mostly spoiled rich teenagers; sometimes I was literally treated as a maid or their nanny. In this group there were two friends (a girl and a boy), and they used to sit next to me to be able to pay attention to the class. When the other students got too loud, I would basically teach these two.
One day, after a particularly exhausting class, these two students come to me and say they're gonna buy me a MAC lipstick (they knew I have a lipstick collection). Here where I live MAC lipsticks can be quite expensive (all of the ones in my collection are much cheaper), so I think they're just joking and ask for a purple one. When the next class comes, they gift me with a purple MAC lipstick.
I know it's something small, but for me it was super thoughtful. They knew their group classes stressed me a lot, and I think they were trying to comfort me. They would always make an effort to pay attention to the class, and sometimes they even looked embarrassed by their classmates' behavior. They were really sweet.
This is so cute.