Being a teacher is one of the most soul-draining careers available. Every year you're blessed a group of students, with some of them actually excited to learn. While you can't teach everyone, you can reach out to them on an emotional level, connecting on things not always taught from a curriculum book.
However, you have to be ready for what they might say when they finally feel comfortable enough to open up to you.
Reddit user, u/DATCATGOSPLAT, wanted teachers to tell all about:
"Can I Have A Band-Aid?"
I had a 7 year old ask me for a bandaid. When I asked her what was wrong and she pulled up her shirt to reveal a big burn in the middle of her chest.
Mum had put a cigarette out in her 'because she was being naughty'.
So Early In Life
"Don't waste your time with me,i won't be able to learn this, i'm too stupid for this".
A student from 12th grade said this to me while trying to explain him properties of exponents and logarithms.
I could not believe a 17 year old thinks he's a failure so early in life. He had the attitude of someone who just gave up on trying to learn things.
A Meeting Not Worth Having
"I have never [met] my parents"
She was 7
Just Think About It For A Moment....
This will get buried, but just yesterday I asked one of my special needs kids how his 2 dogs, Goofy and Mickey, are doing.
He said, "Mickeys at the pet store."
Opening Up About Home
We had a really bad snow storm on a Wednesday and a Thursday. On Friday, we had classes again, but like half the kids were missing for obvious reasons. During morning circle, we went around the room and talked about what everyone did during the snow days.
One girl said that she'd cried a lot because there wasn't much to do at her dad's, and she was so hungry because there wasn't enough food. We sent her home with as many extra snacks and breakfasts (cereals, bars, etc) as we could fit in her bookbag, but I still went home and cried that night. She was 7.
"I won't be able to turn in my homework today."
"I won't be able to turn in my homework today."
"My parents got in a really big fight yesterday. Things got crazy so I wasn't able to do my homework. Can you tell the rest of my teachers for me, please?"
"...I Just Want Someone To Like Me."
11 year old autistic kid in special ed that was bullied on the regular. Said to me in private: "I don't know why I act out all the time... I just want someone to like me." To which I answered "Well, I like you, I want to be your friend.". Kid goes: "I really like that you want to be my friend, but I would like a classmate to want to be my friend too..."
Yeah, tears were shed.
But You Didn't, And That's Important
Asked a kid/student of mine what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said she didn't want or need a job, because her mum doesn't have a job and she gets 500 pound a week (welfare). I almost resigned on the spot.
Not a teacher, but have had many a 'leader' role with groups of kids. (Coach, instructor, scouts, etc). I always went out of my way to make sure every thing we did was fun. I'm a giant kid myself. Imagine hockey coaches standing near the bench yelling to the little kids on what to do. I'm the one in a different Disney jersey every time, skating, diving, falling, laughing it up with the kids on the ice.
One day I heard a kid tell my son of the same age "Man I wish my dad was like your dad." You would think I would be happy about it, but no. It hit me hard. His dad was certainly not like me, and this kid had a difficult home life. For him to actually say he wished his dad was like me hurt. It was a double edge sword. Its a moment I'll never forget.
"Mary won't be here today, her mom died last night."
Student: "Mary won't be here today, her mom died last night"
Me: "Wait, didn't her dad pass away a few weeks ago?"
Both parents died suddenly within a few weeks of each other from different medical conditions.
They've Reached The End Of Their Rope
I teach pretty much exclusively college freshmen and by that point they all have that fatalistic sense of humor anyway, but it gets real sad when they get to the end of their rope. Nothing specific that I can remember, but a lot of "why did I think I could make it in college" "I'm too stupid for this I should drop out" and they actually mean it. Stuff like that.
Monday however a student asked to talk to me before class and said "I know this paper is important and all and I don't want you to hate me but I couldn't get my paper done..." and I'm used to this sort of thing, I mean, it's just natural, but then he take a deep breath and blurts out "my dad called me last night and told me he was leaving my mom and moving away so he's leaving me too and I just couldn't deal with it, I'm really sorry if you're mad at me." It just hits me hard when they have to deal with more than they should and on top of that they think I've formed a personal opinion of them and that I'm going to think badly of them based on something like this.
"Please don't send me home."
5 year old preschool girl with 103 degree fever, sicker than sick. She BEGS the nurse, "please don't send me home." She was allowed to sleep in the nurse's office until the end of the day.
That was about 2.5 years ago. A few months later she was removed by CPS and has been with a foster family (me) for nearly 2 years now.
"What's the point...?"
I ran holiday science workshops, filled with brainy kids as you'd expect. There was an 11 year old girl who was brilliant at everything, the content was clearly beneath her. Very quiet, respectful, well liked by the other kids. Her parents were moving soon because she received scholarships to a prestigious school. Whenever her dad came to pick her up he was obviously proud, telling me about all her achievements, how she was in advanced classes, just won all these sports awards too, etc. Showed videos and photos of her winning all these soccer games.
They enrolled her younger brother in similar sessions. He gave it a go in the first few but really struggled, always the last to finish and felt his work didn't look as good as the others. Looked embarrassed to ask for help. He screamed at his sister when she tried to fix his circuit. Eventually he just began acting out, putting off the work, challenging me to get a laugh out of the other kids, messing around. After a disastrous month he stopped trying altogether.
He just came in one afternoon and sat there, not doing anything. I tried to engage him in the activity and said if he didn't like what the other kids are doing, we could pick anything else he wanted to do. He said something like, "What's the point. My parents will never love me as much as they love my sister."
"Can we use the student computer?"
I've had a lot but one morning two students came in early to my room and asked if they could use my student computer. I said sure, and figured that they just needed to finish a project and knew I always got to school early.
Turns out their best friend was murdered 2 days before because he wouldn't give his money he earned to someone trying to rob him. His family needed the money to not be homeless, so he died trying to look out for his family (and for like $80 or something).
My students were creating flyers and a gofundme so they could try to help the parents not be homeless, and to afford a funeral.
To make matters worse, the kid was murdered on a Saturday. He was left to bleed out and die, to be found the next morning. Murderer CAME TO MY SCHOOL on Monday as if nothing had happened. Cops pulled him out of the class in the middle of the day once they had figured out it was him.
"I'm sorry for being in such a bad mood today. Can I tell you why?"
One of my students who was always in a good mood came into the class looking very down. She was not acting her usual self. I had to get onto her several times for being on her phone (again, very unlike her). She asked if she could speak to me in the hallway.
Kid: I'm sorry for being in such a bad mood today. Can I tell you why?
Me: Of course.
Kid: -proceeds to take her cardigan off (she had a tank top on underneath) and showed me welts that she had gotten the night before from her mother beating her with an electric cord- She says, "My mother beat me for no reason last night and I don't know what to do."
Sadly, it was not the first time I had to report.
They Shoot Me Up
I had a student that frequently lingered in my classroom after school. She often looked ill and was always very weird. One day she opened up to me and said that her mother and her live-in boyfriend shot up heroin every night. I told my principal after she spoke to me and she informed that CPS was already involved. A few days later the same girl told me that her mom and boyfriend would shoot her up with heroin and tell her that she couldn't tell anyone they were still doing it because she would get in trouble for doing it too. She asked me to keep it a secret (which I obviously couldn't) because she was worried she'd get arrested for drug use.
She no longer lives at home thankfully.