Teachers Share The Moment They Realized They Couldn't Help A Student

From inserting a fork in an outlet to see what happens, to believing the cure for AIDS is bleach, teachers share the moment they realized they couldn't help a student.

[Source can be found at the end of the article]

I used to teach high school. A student was in my room after school taking a test. I was at my computer which meant I was facing away from him. Suddenly, there is a huge sizzle-pop noise. The lights in my room dim and come back up, and my monitor blanks for a moment.

I whirl around to find him on the floor with a wisp of smoke trailing up from an electrical outlet in the wall. I notice he's holding a fork. I also notice I'm screaming at him. I pride myself on being civil, respectful, and kind to students no matter what's going on. Evidently, I located my personal "That's too damn much" line. He wanted to "see what would happen with the fork in the outlet." 


I had a student that would do stunts, often on a dare. I came in and he asked to stand for class. I asked why. He proudly told me that he had hot dogged a cactus at a party over the weekend and how it hurt too much to sit. It took me a minute to figure out what he had just said, but once it clicked, I let him stand in the back.


I assigned students to do a group presentation of a story from mythology at the end of the school year. I told them they could choose Greek/Roman, Egyptian, Norse, or any other system they chose.

Two students chose a story from Norse mythology about Thor. They presented the story, which included characters like Loki, Captain America, Iron Man, etc., completely seriously. I spoke to them at the end of class and they had NO clue that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was not a part of Norse mythology.


In the last few weeks before the AP exam, I give my classes a series of practice tests (written by College Board) to take in class under a time constraint to give them practice. One student, lets call him Bill, always tried to cheat in my class. I had gotten sick of putting in the effort to catch him, and it didn't matter because the entire point of the class was to prepare for the AP Exam.

Bill started off each test by staring at the page and answering one or two questions. Then, as always, he asked to go to the bathroom during the test. I let him go and he took his phone (of course). He returns and frantically bubbles in the rest of the test and turns it in early. I have to hand it to him, Bill was great at memorizing letters for the answers of the practice tests, but he failed the AP Exam.


One of the students in my first year computer programming class stared at the wall, at the same spot. The whole class, every class.

He'd walk in on time, sit down, open his folder, and stare at the wall, and didn't ever take a note that I saw. At the end of the wall-staring duration of the class, he'd close his likely-still-blank folder, get up, and leave without a word.

I see him from time to time at the grocery store collecting up the carts. I feel a little bad for whoever funded his education, but am pleased that he has a steady job.


Here's one from my mom:

The class ate at one of those medieval themed restaurants on a field trip and one little brat took advantage of the setting and the overflowing cleavage.

He referred to the waitress as his 'wench' and demanded she butter his bread, so she would bend over to better reveal her bountiful bosom. He ordered the turkey legs then wielded them theatrically like Henry VIII, while thanking the waitress for giving him a 'bone ... er.'


I had my students write two truths and a lie so the class could get to know one another better. One student writes: I had four concussions, I play hockey, I have gold. He said that the lie is that he has gold... I told our physical education teacher about it at lunch and she says what does he mean he has gold? I said, well, that was the lie. well then he lied twice, because hes had seven concussions. Oh...


I have this student, lets call him Kenny, who is severely addicted to energy drinks. His attention span is about a two seconds if he applies himself. Since a couple of weeks back, we have a ban on energy drinks because of their negative effects on young teenagers. And Kenny has tried to sneak in an energy drink every lesson since. And he is never subtle about it; it is always in his pants pocket, or his hoodie. And he tries to be discreet about drinking by turning his back on me. Every. Single. Lesson. And proceeds to be mad when we teachers confiscate his drinks. 


I used to teach English in Japan.

I had a 12-year-old kid who would take off his socks and chew on his toenails in the middle of my lessons.

I had a 4-year-old kid who would run at top speed toward the wall, throw himself into it, stumble around going "ouch!" for a few seconds, then do it all again, for an hour straight if we would let him.

I had a 7-year-old who stripped off down to his underpants, then skipped around the room singing the Pokemon theme song for the whole class. I finally got him dressed again just as the lesson ended. He looked up at me, and said in complete seriousness, "Sensei, I did a good job!"

Kids, man. They're weird.


My mom was a substitute for 5th grade teachers. She told me how this one kid had so many anger issues.

This kid would be sitting in his desk playing legos or something, then out of nowhere flip the desk, start punching the other kids while screaming at the top of his lungs. He also wasn't a small kid, and my mom isn't a big person, so when my mom tried to calm him down, he only got more angry and ripped a necklace off of her and tackled her to the floor, which was when 3 other grown men pulled the kid off of her. She got to go home early and get paid for the necklace that was broken.

You think someone would find out that this kid was mentally unstable before 5th grade.


I've been a history teacher for 3 months and was teaching about the middle colonies and how it was the "Bread Basket" of America. The next day as a warm up I ask what the bread basket is. This student rose her hand and without even skipping a beat starts going off about how I'm so ignorant because it's called the chicken basket where you get your tenders two sides and it also comes with bread but that isn't what it's called. This poor girl has a lot more stories. This one is the one that stands out to me the most.

Oh and she constantly calls people cockatoos.


I work with three year olds.

One was crying and pointing at another kid so I asked what happened. She mostly speaks Spanish, but understands English so I started asking her, "Are you hurt?" Yes "Did she hit you?" Yes "Did she kick you?" Yes

Then the other child chimes in, "NUH UH!! I didn't kick her! I just punched her in the face!"


Blatant and obvious low-effort plagiarism. Like, it's literally the first Google result if you search "topic: example essay" but they added their name, in a different font and size, which should make it obvious at a glance as if the use of capitalization and punctuation wasn't a dead give-away that they didn't write it. I had a student pull that last year, while his buddy didn't even put his name on it. In fact it wasn't even an essay, it was a selection of question prompts. 

I also had a kid at the very end of the day continually mess around with his skateboard and became very hostile when I insisted on holding it until the last bell. He ran out the door, jumped on it and promptly fell and broke his jaw. His parents then threatened to sue the school because he got hurt there doing something he wasn't supposed to be doing.


I was subbing in a third grade class and, as a reward, I was told I could draw a quiz card and ask a question to a student. The student could earn points (to be used in the class store) by answering the question. So I asked this very sweet little girl how many states of the US she could name, worth one point each. She sat there thinking with a big smile on her face for about 15 seconds before emphatically stating, "Wednesday!"


On the first day, after going over the syllabus, I had a little "intro to college" talk I would give first semester students. I know how boring a syllabus is, so I would touch some of the most important aspects of it, like attendance and late work, in a less formal discussion to help grab the students attention.

Part of this was something along the lines of, "You are now in college and you are an adult. I don't know your parents phone number and I will not call them if you miss a day, or don't turn in your work. You are now responsible for your own future."

Right when I said that, a few students would get up and leave, never to be seen again.


I teach freshman-in-college-level writing. Every semester I have one student like this:

He tells me that he's excellent at writing, and that this class is pretty much a formality for him. He tells me not to worry, he'll do me a favor and play nice in the class unless "it gets ridiculous" because he likes me as a teacher. He tells me about the book he's writing, and he tells me that he'll "let me" edit it for him when he gets finished. The other students hate him because he's always one-upping them in discussion.

The papers he turns in never follow instructions, and, on top of that, they're barely comprehensible. He's among the weakest writers in the class. His formatting is bizarre. He's then offended by any and all feedback. When I try to offer help, he assures me that it's actually a mistake that he's even taking my class, and that he was "supposed" to test out of it. He gets the grades he deserves and moves down the line to the next teacher.


My hair is usually strawberry blonde in the summer, but I dye it a darker red in the fall. When my kindergarten students came to class yesterday, they were all a bit unsure of the new color. Here's a real conversation (the broken English is because they're Korean children)...

Kid - Teacher, head is why red?

Me - Why is my hair red? I'm like a tree. I change colors in the fall.

Kid - So... winter and no hair?

I about died laughing! That's some logic for you!


I had the following exchange with a student a few years ago: 

Her: They know what the cure for AIDS is. 

Me: Sure, go on. 

Her: its bleach! Bleach cures AIDS, they just cant figure out how to get it in the body safely and effectively.

I dismissed class almost immediately. For your info, dear reader — For Hepatitis C we now have actual cures, medication that eradicates the virus but not the host.


Teaching at a university you might be surprised how many students get upset over basic math. Freshman used to shock me with comments like "I didn't sign up for a math course," "I don't think I signed up for calculus," and "I am just going to drop." Now it is almost common place. A couple each semester in 100 level courses.

I am talking basic math; addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. It is pathetic and most students that make comments like that do terrible in class. It may be really harsh to say but if you think basic math is something to cause you to drop a class... You should not be taking university classes.


A student had been taking notes furiously in my class (an honors math class) constantly for an entire semester. But she had been failing all the tests. I wanted to know why because she had been taking so many notes throughout my class. I asked to look at her notes before the finals. She tried to dodge but I finally got them. She hadn't been taking notes... She had written Piercing the Fold (Venessa Kimball). I bought that book the following year... pretty good, even though she failed the class.


I had an older college student (28 or so years old) turn in 4 papers in a row that were directly copy/pasted from well-known academic articles.

First one, he said he uploaded the wrong paper. Gave him 24 hours to turn in the "right" one. No new paper was submitted.

Second one, he thinks he's cracked the code - this time he only turned in a hard copy and "forgot" to upload the assignment so it didn't go through the plagiarism scanner. I told him he could go ahead and submit it now, no problem!

Third one, he copy/pasted yet another article, format and all, and only replaced the author's name. During the plagiarism hearing, he tripled down and claimed he was the actual author of the paper but had just changed his last name - he pointed to the fact that he and the author had the same first names as evidence of his authorship.

The fourth one I saved as a memento since he'd just been removed from the program.


My sister is a grade school teacher and told me this story. One of her students hates her for some reason and ran out the classroom screaming, "I HATE YOU, TEACHER. I'M GOING TO BUILD A WALL BETWEEN US AND YOU'LL HAVE TO PAY." He then proceeded to move tables and stack chairs towards the door.


I once taught in an inner city elementary school. My students couldnt comprehend why I wasnt married nor why I hadnt had kids yet (I was 23 at the time). I had a little girl with the most serious face look at me and tell me that her mom knows how to work it and could teach me. She then proceeded to tell the class and I that her mom makes a lot of money doing something with a pole and how she wanted to be just like her mom. I have to give her credit for loving her mom but... hopefully fate will provide her with a different career!

Another student told me she didnt need to do stuff at school. When I asked her why she informed me that she was going to sit on the couch and get paid by the government.


A university freshman turned in a paper on the Treaty of Versailles that conformed to no known formatting system I had ever seen. There didn't even seem to be paragraphs.

Assuming that his computer had jumbled it up somehow when he turned it in, I went to give it back to him in class one day so he could fix it.

He informed me it was intentional, the format meant the paper was to be read as a rap. Which he proceeded to do for me in the few minutes before class started, It was incredible. D+


I had a listening class (foreign language) and I saw this student take out his listening CD and look it over like it was the first time he had ever seen anything like it. Kind of like an ape with a shiny object would be the best way I could describe it. He just turned it over and over in his hands and then, eventually, he started to bend it. I just remember thinking to myself, "No, surely he'll stop," but he didn't and eventually he bent the CD too far and the CD snapped, spraying the adjacent rows with shards of fiber glass or whatever CDs are made of. The noise startled nearly everyone in the class, too. I just stared at him, agog, for about 5 seconds before I kicked him out.

Thankfully, no one was hurt.



Whoops. That snip was just a hair too far....

Your first bad haircut probably made you want to die a little when you looked in the mirror. Imagine how the person cutting your hair must have felt. Although, maybe they didn't care at all, as evidenced by the bs excuse they gave you when you finished in the barber chair.

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