Teachers have a notoriously difficult job, with low pay, long hours, and mentally demanding work. Students, of course, also have difficult jobs, of course, because their future depends in large part on how they perform. Because of these dynamics, teachers play a huge role in students' lives. Mean teachers can deeply disturb students. Read the stories below to hear from students whose teachers have said something absolutely uncalled for to them. Content has been edited for clarity.
“For over a decade, my high school Computer Science teacher was the same guy and he was freaking awesome. If you needed help, you got help. If you finished your daily work in 6 minutes and wanted to play Unreal Tournament with the other kids in class the rest of the period, that’s what you got to do.
Well, he announced that he was retiring (became a substitute instead) and the school found a replacement. There was a year of time where the two were both there with the original guy as sort of an observer/trainer.
Nothing went well with the new guy.
Our final project was to create a website on whatever subject matter we wanted. We would be graded on its quality not it’s content…supposedly.
EVERY. SINGLE. PRESENTATION was stopped by the new teacher actively berating and even shouting at us for our topic choices. Mine was video games. ‘Games are a useless waste of time and encourage people to shoot up schools. I should send you to the principal and tell them you are a threat to the school.’
As a tragic turn of events, a CS teacher at another school died due to heart failure, and so he was pulled from our school to be their teacher. I remember feeling so terribly bad about myself when this happened…because I was so very happy. The only subject I dearly loved in high school was programming, and my senior year would have been with that guy. I’d told the original teacher at some point that if we really do end up with the new one, I wouldn’t take any programming classes.”
“Too Stupid To Write That”
“My 8th grade teacher was convinced my parents wrote the speech I had done as a presentation in her class or that I plagiarized it. Her reasoning behind it was: ‘I was too stupid to write that.’ Despite absolutely no evidence of plagiarism, she decides that she’s going to report it as such and I get sent to the office, they then proceed to berate me there for about 40 minutes and demand that I ‘rewrite the entire speech if you didn’t plagiarize it’ so I do, it’s not perfect but REALLY close to the original. The principal agrees that yeah, I did write the original since my second one was so incredibly close. My teacher was unconvinced for some reason, still insisting that my parents MUST have wrote it then, so they requested I be suspended from school. The principal of course said, ‘Absolutely not, they clearly wrote this.’ So I leave the principal’s office. Later that day I’m informed by the Vice Principal that I’m to receive a 3 day suspension for ‘cheating’ by having my parents write my project for me. I explain to them what happened, they don’t want to hear it, so I tell them to go talk to the principal instead, they do and the issue is resolved.
You’d think that would be the end of it but, nope! About a week later, all the other kids get their grades back for their speeches, but not me. I don’t think much of it until weeks pass and still no mark, at this point I get my midterm marks only to see that I’m failing English HARD (the only projects due for this class were the speech itself, which was 80% of the grade, and some random other stuff I had aced).
When I then go and ask ‘What the heck?’ I hear back essentially, ‘Your delivery for the speech was bad, the draft you handed in was full of spelling errors and bad grammar, inconsistent information, etc., etc.’
To which my only response was, ‘You mean the speech you were convinced I was “too stupid” to have written based on my delivery alone?’
She responds with, ‘Well, I could show you but I must have misplaced your hard copy.’
‘Good thing it just so happens I have a spare one right here,’ I respond as I see her actively starting to get mad. She then proceeds to snatch the papers out of my hand and starts poring over them, trying to point out any and all ‘problems’ she can find. She starts randomly circling parts of the sheet, crossing letters out, etc., etc. When she’s finally done she proceeds to hand it back to me with an abysmal grade written on the top.
I at this point just take the paper directly to the principal’s office. I hand it to him and ask, ‘Does this seem right to you?’ After less than a minute of glancing at the paper, he asks me to ‘step out of his office for a moment.’
Then I hear my teacher being called to the principal’s office over the PA. I see her walking up, she sees me sitting outside with a smile on my face and realizes what was going on. She then proceeds to walk into the office and I overhear the principal absolutely tearing into her for a good 10+ minutes. She then leaves the office and I’m called back in. He then tells me that I’m to be exempt from her class for the remainder of the term and I will receive an automatic 90% in the class; however, I am to report to the office during the time block for that class and I’m still expected to complete all of the work, readings, etc. for that class according to the curriculum. To which I immediately agree.
To this day, I’m still not sure what the actual heck my teacher’s problem was with me, or why in the heck she decided to take something so stupid so far.”
That’s Not My Name
“In my junior year of high school, I had a teacher refuse to pronounce my first name correctly. My name is Alisha, pronounced uh-lee-shuh. Easy, simple, fairly common name, if oddly spelled.
She decided that because there’s an ‘I’ in my name, it should be pronounced uh-lie-shuh.
I’m used to people getting the spelling wrong, and I have an unusual last name that nobody can pronounce, so correcting her was easy the first time. I figure she’s just accidentally mispronounced it. Nope.
She freaking tells me, in front of the whole class, that obviously the way she says it is ‘the right way’ and that she will call me that going forward because clearly my parents have made a mistake in how my name is said. You know, for the last 15 years.
At this point, I’ve gone to school in three different school systems in as many states. I’ve been in this school system longest. I have had teachers call me very rude names, literally steal my book from my locker, try to intentionally fail me because I was a tomboy, and embarrass me because I always raised my hand in class… all in this ONE school system. Now this woman wants to freaking telling me how to pronounce my name during our first ever interaction? Nah, not gonna go down.
‘If you expect me to answer to you, you’re going to say my name correctly, or I won’t respond.’
She turns her nose up at me, and things calm down. Then suddenly, she calls me by the mispronunciation. I don’t bat an eye lash, because eff this woman. She stands up from her desk and walks toward me and calls me again. I sit there.
SHE LITERALLY GOT IN MY FACE. And called my name the wrong way again.
I sit there.
She threatens to have me sent to the office for being disruptive. I just looked her straight in the face and said, ‘Go ahead. I’m sure when it comes out what you’re doing, it’ll go really well for you.’
She sent me to the office. They call my parents. My parents show up, throw a fit, and eventually a couple of students admit to what the teacher did. Suddenly, she started calling me by the right name.
Eat crap, Mrs. Fields.”
“When I was a senior, one of my cousins died and I had to miss school for the funeral. At my school, if you wanted your absence to be excused you had to get a slip signed by all of your teachers. So I went up to my astronomy teacher to ask for his signature and he said, ‘What!? You goin on vacation or something?’ And I said, ‘No…it’s a funeral,’ and he said, ‘Hey, I just saw on the news someone with your last name was found dead, is that who the funeral is for?’ He asked it so excitedly…like it was cool. I just nodded my head, got my signature, and asked to go to the bathroom. It was an awful experience.”
“Back in my first year of high school, my counseling teacher took all my classmates’ and my cellphones for some ‘experiment,’ I didn’t think much about it and gave my phone right away.
On lunch break, all of my friends’ phones had been returned to their owners except mine. I had a feeling that something was wrong and asked the teacher, ‘why haven’t I gotten my phone back?’ He didn’t answer and told me to go back to my class. Not long after that he returned my phone.
Day after that I got called to the principal’s office and my parents were called.
Turns out they found my explicit photos/videos stash on my phone (including browsing history) and managed to tell my parents about it.
The story spread so quickly I got kicked out of my English and Japanese club, and now the whole school knows me as the kid who hides dirty stuff on his phone.
Thanks for ruining my life ‘counseling teacher.'”
To Each His Own
“I used to doodle around the edges of the pages on my workbook during school lessons, it helped me concentrate on listening to the teacher while keeping my hands occupied. One teacher when I was 11 stopped the entire lesson when she saw me doodling and had me cut off all the drawings on the page while the whole class watched. In my opinion, that shows no respect to the different learning approaches kids have, she should have just ignored me and continued the lesson instead of disrupting it for everyone.
I still doodle to this day, glad I didn’t let her mindset affect mine!”
Never Say Never
“Just before my final hearing, where I knew that I would be expelled from my high school, my music theater teacher/advisor of nearly 4 years sat me down and told me:
‘You will never star in a musical, you just don’t have the voice, or the presence.’
This was after nearly 4 years of him encouraging me to ‘audition anyways’ for every production, of turning me away and saying, ‘maybe next year,’ and timed just before I was kicked out of school.
Because of that, I decided ‘forget you, if I can’t star in one, I’ll freaking write one!’ So I got a degree in music composition, and am well on my way to making that happen.
Oh and by the way, I got into my first musical since high school recently, and will have my first performance as an adult in just a few weeks! Baby steps.”
“He said that people like me should be aborted, right to my face, knowing that I’m autistic. For the record, I did good in his class, I was just very, very painfully un-social and he saw that as an issue. He also butted heads with me over literally everything, including my accent and accusing me of being a bigot just because I came from Alabama. I wish I had the guts to stand up to him and fire back even if it meant getting detention, I freaking hated Mr. Davenport. He was an all around creepy sad sack of crap, and it didn’t help that there were rumors he preyed on junior and senior girls, but nothing was confirmed.”
“I was 11 and had just started secondary school. I didn’t know anybody, which is only relevant as it meant I already felt incredibly shy and self-conscious.
I was in a lesson with a teacher who was rumoured to be terrifying. I needed a pair of scissors to complete whatever task we were doing.
‘Sir, where are the scissors to?’ I asked.
‘…You’ve got that HORRIBLE Bristolian accent that I HATE!’ came his response.
I was really taken aback. I managed to stammer, ‘…Um…well, I live in Bristol, Sir.’
‘So do my sons and they don’t speak like you.’
It all just seemed so unnecessarily nasty and humiliating.
For what it’s worth, I do now know it’s grammatically incorrect to say ‘to’ at the end of that sentence, and I wouldn’t do so now, but it is a dialect thing. You’ll hear many a Bristolian saying, ‘Where you to?’ or ‘Where’s that to?’ instead of ‘Where are you?’ or ‘Where is that?'”
Change Of Heart
“It was back in high school… history teacher, he was the basketball coach and not really qualified to teach. Anyway, he gave us an essay exam, and I used some creative writing skills from another class to turn my answers into stories, as well as responding to the question.
When he finished grading and returned the essays, he kept mine. Had to read it in front of the whole class, he thought it was so great.
Later that week, he was in a terrible mood — one of the members of the football team decided it would be funny to lock him out of the classroom. Everyone else just started at the situation trying to figure what to do. Once the prank was done and he was back in front of the class, he started reaming everyone out. Finally got to me. Called me a low-talent hack, screamed at me in front of everyone that I wasn’t taking the class serious, even changed my grade from an A to a D for the exam. Threw a book at me even, although it missed and broke the window.
Long story short, severely wounded my high school ego. Didn’t write for years after that humiliation. But I did report it to the principal and somehow was able to skip class and have my own ‘study hall’ in the school library. Also got an A. Might have been due to my threatening to sue, I’ll never know.
His contract wasn’t renewed the next year. But damage done, took me years before I was interested in writing after that.”
Portrait Of A Young Woman In STEM
“I was bullied pretty badly at school, not helped by being an over developed female in STEM in the 80s.
I had a teacher tell me off for being provocative after I got sick of a couple of guys throwing a tennis ball at me and I threw it onto the roof.
I had a teacher pull my pigtails in class.
I had two separate teachers in year 12 tell me I didn’t belong in STEM, one told me I should be doing typing and home economics. The other was my physics teacher who gave me a hard time all year. I was the second top student in the year and the subject that let me down was physics.”
“Tried to convince the school I was mentally disabled because my mom yelled at her.
It all started by getting accused of stealing mechanical pencils because I showed them off to my friends and they were the same type the teacher had in her dumb goodie store she had for these points she gave out. My mom explained she had bought them for me and the teacher accepted the explanation when they were face to face. Teacher then decided my mom was lying and continued with the punishment passing it along to the principal etc. My mom got angry about this and called her incompetent and demanded I have my class changed. This was in 2nd grade.
That didn’t stop her though, she then interjected to all my other teachers to convince them I was disabled physically and mentally. She brought it up to the gym teacher as if she was still my teacher that I couldn’t skip and they signed me up for a special ed gym class to fix it… this was a lie. The gym teacher thought it was weird I was being put in this extra gym class with special ed. Luckily, he knew my mom so he contacted her to see what was up. This then revealed that I had been given special testing as well by the new teacher after the old teacher had insisted to her that I basically could not read – the tests showed I was well ahead of the curve in every category and particularly in reading comprehension.
Administration wouldn’t do anything cause she was a woman and broke out the tears. Probably ended up making the case that she only did it cause she cares, but the reality was that she was my first bully.”
“In high school Spanish class our teacher, who, in retrospect, was out of her dang mind, was explaining opposites in Spanish. Up and down. Hot and cold. Things like that. She then pointed to a student and said ‘guapo,’ which means handsome, and then to me ‘feo,’ or ugly.
Now, I was an awkward 11th grader who was going through some crazy traumatizing stuff at home, and was too poor to afford decent fitting clothes, had cystic acne (which I was on meds for), a bad hair cut (just because I was awkward), braces, and what not. You know, an awkward phase.
So today I still struggle with my appearance, even though I’m told I ‘look like a different person,’ and people I’ve run into since then had no idea who I was the same person 10 years later. And, as a side note, that dude that was ‘guapo,’ is not guapo anymore.”
Teachers Pick On Overweight Students Too
“I was picked on ruthlessly after having had multiple hip surgeries between the ages of 10 and 14. I’d had to drop all the sports I was playing (and was fairly good at, was about to try out for travel softball team) and gained a noticeable amount of weight. I was slightly bigger to begin with, short and pretty solid for a girl, but not overweight, but I traveled almost into obese territory by the time I was 13. I was also a straight-A student and it somehow got out that I was the only kid in the grade who got a perfect score on the OLSAT the previous year (I wasn’t all that smart, was just a good test taker) – that combo is a recipe for bullying.
The school was a 3-level junior high, and being on crutches after having had another hip surgery, I had to have a special key for the elevator. So one day when I thought I was alone going to the elevator, these two jerks were making fun of me and pushed me out of the elevator so they could use it, but there was a gym teacher who saw them. This teacher was one of those who didn’t hide her distaste for certain students, and for some reason she didn’t like me. I’d win an award and she’d say, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize YOU did all those activities,’ or ‘I was surprised to hear how smart [teacher] said you were.’ She had had me one term for gym but I had a medical note (couldn’t run or jump) and she made it pretty clear she thought I was faking, and I had her two terms for health.
She saw this go down and immediately told the guys to take the stairs but called ME over and made me go to the office, saying I was sharing my elevator key, which was against the rules. I initially got a verbal warning (which would’ve included a note home), and she kept saying, ‘She should use the stairs, she needs to exercise.’ This woman, I might add, is not a physical therapist. I was doing weight bearing work at PT three times a week; they would tell me when I was ready for the stairs – trust me, I wanted this to end.
That teacher ended up being my coach for a sport I played in high school, and cut me from JV sophomore year because ‘I didn’t have the endurance.’ I ended up making varsity after she stopped coaching the team the next year. I didn’t really think of that teacher again after that, but last year, my daughter started elementary school at that exact same school, which has been converted to an elementary school, and wouldn’t ya know? This jerk is her PE teacher. She likely has no clue that I’m my daughter’s mom (different last name) and my kid gets consistent ‘4 – performing above grade level’ in that class. But from what I hear, she’s still a miserable person.”