To ensure a comfortable and productive learning environment, teachers have to put in work to cultivate the right space. And that is no small task if you're surrounded by a crowd of 10-year-olds that are still figuring out emotions and how to socialize.
Faced with that obstacle, an ice breaker can do wonders. A simple enough question that every kid has an answer for is ideal: it empowers everybody to begin engaging with group by talking, but it's low stakes enough to keep the space feeling safe.
But the "fun fact" ice breaker--one of the most common of them all--can backfire. One kid's tidbit can suck every molecule of air out of that room, leaving everyone twice as tense as before. In those cases, any chance at the sought after, ideal array of easy teaching conditions is doomed.
Some teachers of Reddit gathered to share the times it only took one strange kid to throw the ice break right off the rails.
"Teachers of Reddit, whats the weirdest thing a student answered to 'tell me a fun fact about yourself?'"
An Incest Scare
"I teach middle school, This one still takes the cake."
"That his mom and dad have the same parents. I asked him to clarify because I didn't understand what he was saying and he said 'I only have one set of grandparents, they had the same parents.'"
"I quickly moved to the next student so no one else would realize that this kid just told the class that his parents were siblings..."
"I talked to him about it the next day in private and he said that he got it mixed up, his parents don't have the exact same parents, they shared a dad..."
"I felt so much better when the mom called me to let me know her elderly step-father married her husband's elderly mother. still weird, but much better."
What a Day
"'My arm is F***ED y'all' in the deepest southern drawl and proceeded to wildly swing his 'f***ed"'up arm around."
"He was 12, had Erb's palsy and also got detention that day."
"He might be one of my fav students"
When the Teacher is the Culprit
"Once we were going around a circle during percussion camp in the front ensemble and my teacher goes 'hello everyone, my name is ____ and I have sh** my pants as an adult.'"
"Definitely one of the weirder ones I've heard."
A Local Celebrity
"Student told me that there is a chapter dedicated to him in a dental surgery textbook because of a very rare disorder that he had as a child. I may still have that essay" -- MadWhiskeyGrin
"My brother had something like this. When he was somewhere around nine or ten years old, he had to have 12 teeth surgically removed. He just had too many growing too quickly."
"It was so crazy that the oral surgeon apparently negotiated a deal with my father: the surgeon will completely pay for my brother's surgery....in exchange for taking a couple extra x-rays and lots and lots of photos (to be published in an academic journal of some sort)." -- Random-Rambling
When Studying is Life and Death
"During french class, A guy in my class said that he liked stabbing children. He meant that he fences but didn't know the exact translation for that." -- Muffin141
"I love the French class fun facts. In a beginner French class, I had to accidentally come out to the class when I was asked whether I had a spouse. "Je suis une lesbianne." It was awkward." -- Lulu_42
Sounds Like a Lawsuit
"Kid in my kindergarten class said 'My peepee fell off at Disneyland.' I didn't ask any follow up questions" -- HEYYMCFLYY
"Maybe it's like those lizards who can drop/subsequently regrow their tails to escape predators..." -- khalfrodo34
"I know exactly what this kid is talking about! After my first roller coaster ride as a kid I told my mom it 'made my weenie go away'"
"She looked at me perplexed before she realized I meant the drop gave me butterflies. Apparently they can happen further south as well." -- c_laces
The Nuances of Pronunciation
"I was an ESL teacher in Indonesia and a student once told me every morning she cleaned the sh*t on her bed. I asked her to clarify, worried she had a serious digestive issue."
"She answered: 'I brush my teeth, wash face and clean bed sh*t.' Bed sheet." -- GuruBagus
"Holy sheet." -- netheroth
"It took me a while to learn to pronounce beach and bitch differently." -- Kiloku
Impressive Attunement to Their Emotions, Though
"'My dad clogged the toilet this morning and that's why I'm feeling frustrated' -5 year old child. I will say the question was 'how are you doing this morning?' But I could barely keep from laughing out loud!" -- ModernMissTexas
"I have IBS... My toddler once told visiting friends that 'daddy takes long poops.' I mean, I was having a flare up and had some extended bathroom sessions. But, dang little dude, not cool."
"I'm terrified/amused about what he might share at school in the near future." -- ecodrew
Struttin' His Stuff
"Not a teacher but I just did a first aid course. During introductions, say your name and one fact about yourself, dude says proudly he once had over 300k of UNpaid parking tickets." -- paxtonious
"I hope the Red Cross got paid in advance for his place in class." -- Krombopulos_Amy
"Are they from Philly?" -- megatron8899
"My first guess too. They just make stuff up to see if you'll pay it." -- c_pike1
All You Need to Know
"This guy in my class named Shane has this medical condition that causes him to grow tons of hair at an early age. Full beard in middle school. He would say 'I'm Shane and I'm Very Hairy.'" -- _JazzyJake_
"He could say 'My name is Shane, but friends call me Harry.'" -- Daveinatx
"He missed out on 'I'm Shane with the mane.'" -- waterloograd
That Settles It
"A guy in my class introduced himself by telling us how he decided he wanted to study philosophy because one day he was really high peeing in the street and he saw a couple of people working and he wondered what they were doing."
"So he realized his passion was wondering. He dropped out like 2 months later."