People Are Sharing 30 Things Their Teachers Did That Made Everyone Respect Them Or Had Quite The Opposite Effect
Not all teachers were the same. While some inspired our young souls who had no clue about the world around them to follow our dreams, others had to prove themselves to gain kids’ respect.
In some incidents, teachers would also lose our trust, which was very hard to gain back. Because teachers act as role models, and if they don’t, this whole dynamic crumbles from the bottom up.
So this interesting thread from Ask Reddit gives us a rare glimpse into (former) students' memories about their teachers, both good and bad. “What did that one teacher do to you that you'll never forget?” someone asked, and the stories started rolling in. Below we selected some of the most interesting ones.
At my high school, we had an annual week long science trip, fully paid for by fundraising. Only 4 people were selected to go each year. My sophomore year, I was chosen. I knew there was no way I was going to be allowed to go. I had never been out of the state, never been on a single vacation, never been on a plane and never been away from home for more than 24 hours. My parents were incredibly conservative and immediately said no. I had a science teacher who just didn't accept the no. Instead of just giving up and selecting someone else, he called and tried to convince my parents. When that didn't work, he came to my house and had dinner with my family to convince my dad that I would be an asset and he would be doing me a disservice by not letting me go. He sat and ate my mom's terrible cooking and talked to my parents for over 2 hours until he got a "we'll think about it". Then he just kept following up.
I had never had someone in my corner like that before, who was willing to go to bat for me like that. He wore them down and it was the best week of my teenage life. I'd never seen the ocean. 20 years later and I can still recall every detail of that trip. It was a major pivot point for me.
When I was in 5th grade in 1975, my parents were divorcing and I was living with my abusive father. If I didn't get B+ or better on my report card, I got the belt. Not a little, mind you. A full-on beat down, and probably denial of meals for a while. The '70's with an abusive parent were a very different time.
My father had quite a reputation in the small Pennsylvania town I lived in (McKean, PA). He was known as an incredibly strict person, and our neighbors all hated him. But this was a different time, and that sort of behavior was ignored in public.
My 5th grade math teacher, Mr. Cunningham, scared me. He looked a bit like my father, and didn't suffer any nonsense in his classroom at all. I struggled with mathematics, and it just didn't make sense to me.
We got our first report card in 5th grade. These were the days where you could carry a card with you for the day, and the teacher would write your grade on the report card. You would then have to take it home, and have a parent sign it to acknowledge that they had seen your grades.
So far, through the day, the grades were good. A's, mostly, an A-, but all good.
Math was my last class of the day before I had to catch the bus.
When my report card came back to me, I froze in terror. I recall this moment like a photograph. The grade was a D, written in pen, right there on the report card. I knew what was coming. The blood drained out of my face.
Mr. Cunningham dismissed the class, and I was frozen in my desk. Scared of what he would do, and even more scared of what my father would do.
All the other kids had left the classroom, and my world around me was gone - just me, my books, and the D staring at me telling me that my 10-year old self was going to suffer. Badly.
I felt a hand on my shoulder, and I shook and started crying.
Mr. Cunningham looked at me. He took my report card out of my hand, and walked up to his desk. He called me up there. I was still terrified, probably shaking, definitely trying to hide my crying and failing.
He got out a black pen and changed the D into a B+. He didn't say anything, he just looked at me. He knew. He could see the signs, and he knew how terrified I was and why.
I had no idea an adult could be so compassionate, and had no idea it was even possible to change something like that.
He handed my report card back to me, and said two words that have stayed with me to this day. "Earn this." He put his hand on my shoulder and said, "I know. It's not fair, and I'm sorry. You're a smart kid, and you can get this. Just ask me for help."
It was a simple act of kindness, and it's stuck with me to this day. The math grade didn't matter - I'm successful enough in my 50's to not have that come up on my permanent record. But the permanent change of my impression of Mr. Cunningham is still very much with me.
If you have power over other people, you have to wield that power with compassion. You have to tailor that power to meet the needs of the individual. That is the lesson I learned that day from Mr. Cunningham.
The next terms I got a B+ or better. I assume it's because I worked really hard, and Mr. Cunningham helped me out at lunch - or, he was kind because he knew.
Thank you, Mr. Cunningham. This was 45 years ago, and I still remember you.
A girl in our High School English Lit. class was talking too much, so the teacher moved her next to me because I was quiet. I thought this little chatterbox was cute, so I asked her out. We've been married 54 years.
Teachers are probably the most important people in our childhood, apart from parents or caregivers. Traditionally, teaching was a combination of information-dispensing, custodial child care and sorting out academically inclined students from others.
But now what we understand as the role of a teacher is rapidly changing, as teachers rethink every part of their jobs — from their relationship with students, colleagues, and the community to the tools and techniques they employ, as well as their rights and responsibilities. Teachers are reinventing themselves and their occupation to better serve schools and students, Judith Taack Lanier, the Distinguished Professor of Education at Michigan State University, argues.
I faked my way through 4th and 5th grade math. I never understood how to do long division, but managed to hide that from the teachers and answer test questions by reverse multiplication - basically guess a number and multiply it out and see how close I would get, and keep doing it until I got the answer.
My 6th grade math teacher figured out that I was faking, and had no idea how to actually divide anything. She had me come in one afternoon to “help with cleaning the erasers” (all the kids fought for this privilege , so I was thrilled), sat me down and tutored me until I grasped the concept. Bless you, Mrs. Gillespie!
Sixth grade my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I was caught copying my friends homework because my dad had a treatment the night before and I was unable to do it - that’s how my teacher learned he had cancer. Throughout the year she was so supportive and reassured me that I could submit assignments late if needed. About a year or two later I saw her again and she asked about my dad. I told her he had sadly passed away and we cried together. It was so heartfelt and I realized how much she cared.
Senior year I was placed in a Freshman typing class. Everyone Else was chatty and goofed off, but I wanted to learn to type, so I really put in a lot of effort. I only had two classes in the morning, and the rest of the day I was a waitress, as I was pretty much on my own in my senior year. I got called into work on the day of our class final, so I went to work and missed the final. When I showed up to class the next day, I apologized to the teacher for missing the final. He asked me “do you want to know the grade you got?” When I replied yes, he said “I gave you an A because if you had been here, that’s what you would’ve gotten.” I never forgot that. Thank you Mr. Wyatt.
Lanier argues that many teachers today are encouraged to adapt and adopt new practices that acknowledge both the art and science of learning. “They understand that the essence of education is a close relationship between a knowledgeable, caring adult and a secure, motivated child. They grasp that their most important role is to get to know each student as an individual in order to comprehend his or her unique needs, learning style, social and cultural background, interests, and abilities.”
“This attention to personal qualities is all the more important as America continues to become the most pluralistic nation on Earth. Teachers have to be committed to relating to youngsters of many cultures, including those young people who, with traditional teaching, might have dropped out — or have been forced out — of the education system,” the professor explains.
Had a highschool art teacher who would let me stay in his classroom during lunches. Always gave me half his sandwich and other extra food because he knew I didn't eat much otherwise.
Edit: He would also keep a drawer in the classroom stocked with snacks so that I could swing by and grab something between classes if I needed. No, he never did anything "questionable", and no, I never "fell asleep" after eating the sandwiches. He was just a kind person :)
My first grade teacher bought me clothes, got my doctor to recognize my epilepsy and diagnose it, and sent me to another school for highly capable students. I lived in a bad situation but she gave me my life back and now I have been accepted into college as a student athlete, with a nearly full ride scholarship. My epilepsy is still with me, I work two jobs now, but I have a future because of her. Thank you Mrs. Trudeau for believing in me.
In 5th grade I had this teacher who was very... gruff. Most of us didn’t like her because she was such a hardass. Like military style with discipline and homework completion. She wasn’t mean, but she wasn’t nice either.
Then I found out my parents were getting a divorce. I showed up to school one day visibly upset, kinda shaky, and had obviously been been crying. She basically grunt rasped “Decidedly-Undecided, hallway. Now.” I was so not in the mood to be scolded and I knew I was a mess... I stomped out into the hallway. She told me she knew what was happening at home, asked me if I was ok, then listened to me sob and break down about how I felt. She gave me a hug and asked if I wanted to spend an hour or so in the library since she knew I loved books and then I could ground myself.
It was so unexpectedly kind. I will never forget it. I found out later she was so gruff and short with us because she’d been teaching for a long ass time and kids are mean. She had some sort of health condition that left her in pain most of the time and she had to use a cane which caused her to hunch a bit. Over the years all the meanness of the kids made her a little hard and cold. But she really did care about her students.
Rather than seeing themselves solely as masters of subject matter such as history, math, or science, teachers increasingly understand that they must also inspire a love of learning in children. According to Lanier, this new relationship between teachers and students takes the form of a different concept of instruction. “Tuning in to how students really learn prompts many teachers to reject teaching that is primarily lecture-based in favor of instruction that challenges students to take an active role in learning.”
The real challenge of passionate teachers is to make their students passionate participants in the instructional process. Learning activities are not solely based on learning per se, but rather it’s viewed as an engaging adventure, the curriculum that relates to them and encourages inner curiosity.
3rd grade-Mrs Jones. My dad had just deserted us and we were suddenly destitute. She bought my school pictures for us and paid my lunch bill all year. She never said a word about it. Only found out later. Bless her
In 1st grade I struggled really hard with reading, I was very far behind where I was expected to be comparatively. I wanted desperately to read this book series called the magic tree house because...magic. She told me I needed to read some easier books at the time and assigned me 3 frog and toad books to read completely through, when I would finish the book I had to tell her what happened and I got to start the next one. Each book took me weeks to get through but eventually I finished all 3. Finally, I got to read the magic tree house books and by the end of the year I had read through book 5 and was incredibly proud of myself.
A week into summer vacation our door bell rings, I get called to the door and to my surprise my teacher is standing at the front door. She said she stopped by to tell me that she was incredibly proud of the progress I made with reading. She then presented me with a gift, she had bought me the 6th book in the series! I was incredibly happy and excited to continue the journey I started.
This simple act of kindness sparked a lifelong love of reading that I have passed on to my own son through the same series and it is something that I will forever appreciate and never ever forget.
My physics teacher in high school hosted an annual trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando for 15-20 kids for over a week. I was one of the better and most interested students in his class. He was an incredible teacher who found examples in physics everywhere. He also used to work for Disney prior to teaching.
Since my family was not so well off and I could not afford the trip to Walt Disney World, I declined when he asked me if I was going to join. He probed a bit and he somehow found the funds to have me join without me even inquiring. I don't know if he pulled school money or there was a surplus, but either way, that was one of my best memories from that school.
I still keep in touch with him 15 years later.
It’s important to note that a great number of America’s teachers have young children. Most teachers are women, who often bear disproportionate caregiving responsibilities for children and other family members. And although many of the country’s large districts say they’re attempting to be flexible with teachers, especially in times of adopting remote schooling as the new norm, few if any have policies that explicitly accommodate those juggling work and full-time caregiving.
Called my mum while she was at work to tell her I'd written one of the best things he'd ever seen as a teacher.
I called somebody stupid once when they got a question wrong and the teacher instantly made me stand up and spell “stupid” backwards. Got it wrong with the pressure and learnt a lesson that day.
Grade 4, Mrs.Campbell.
It was at the end of the year, graduation, she gifted each child a book in the class. I think she did it out of pocket. So it was like Christmas for all of us, getting a gift. Most of the kids weren't into it ("books, ugh, lame, ect") but for me, it was a life changing moment.
While everyone else got a cool piece of paperback fiction, I got a big, hardcover, art-book-looking, beast of a book with a dragon on the cover that consumed me for years to come.
You see, my childhood was... unusual. My father passed when I was young. My mom was a like, punk-rock, artist, criminal, and we moved at least once a year. I attended more schools than years of school by several.
But that book, it became an anchor and constant source of joy. You see, it wasn't just some art book. While it's nearly 300 pages were, in fact, filled with amazing art. All the art was captioned. Paragraphs of text. It described events, people, places. Maps, diagrams of cites and pictures of massive battles. All captioned. It contained a whole universe of stories, the history of a world not our own laid out *like non fiction*. It opened my eyes to so much wonder that there is no way I would be the same person I am now without its influence.
That book was called "The Tolkien Illustrated Encyclopedia"
Looking back on it all. She must have seen something in me, because that book really showed a favoritism at the time. The trade paperbacks the rest of the class got were probably about as expensive combined as the book I was gifted.
Love you Mrs Campbell. Thank you, wherever you may be.
According to Judith Kafka, a professor of education policy at Baruch College: “throughout the history of teaching, since we’ve feminized the profession, there’s been this emphasis on teachers [as] ultimately altruistic — they love children.” And although for the vast majority of teachers, that’s true about them, “they’re not usually asked to sacrifice attention to their own children in the process.”
I was anorexic when I was in school. She took me aside after class and told me that if I didn’t stop doing what I was doing to myself I was going to die. That my body was going to start shutting down, my organs would fail, that it would not be beautiful and I was going to die an awful and painful death.
I still catch myself slipping back into that mindset ten years later sometimes. But I will never forget that. She saved my life.
My High School English teacher helped me get an IEP for my dyslexia. Yes I found many coping skills but still had trouble.. She also also helped me in so many more ways like had me take a paper to the office every day just to give me a 2 minute break. Would ask me if I knew all the words for the matching on my spelling tests. Got me a comic book of the book we were reading in class to help me. She would proof read my papers before they were due even for other classes. Most of all she helped me with all my paper work for my rank of eagle scout and talked me in to going to college because I could go for free. Because of her I have 2 degrees and earned my rank of Eagle scout. I owe the world to this teacher.
I was having a crisis of faith.
My philosophy teacher was an ex priest who left the church because it was riddled with issues and he didn't believe. He was open about his hatred for organized religion.
He had a chat with me in his office and worked me through my feelings and concerns and questions without ever trying to convince me what to think.
That moment taught me how to treat everyone I interact with. How to respect, help and respond to someone even though my beliefs didn't match because it doesn't matter.
Helping or comforting someone requires you to get on their level, you don't make them fit to your mindset.
Moreover, about half — 48% — of all public school teachers in the US have children living at home, showed the research by the Brookings Institution’s Michael Hansen and Diana Quintero. This includes young children, who need constant supervision, as well as teenagers, who might not. During the height of remote teaching during the pandemic, many teachers faced unprecedented challenges of navigating their children, their students and their households.
Senior year of high school. I was on the wrestling team and I had cut about 30lbs that year, from 170 down to 140.
I happened to have the same math teacher 3 years in a row so we really got to know each other. First name basis and all that. She knew how much weight I cut for the season, I told her and it was obvious just from my face. I wasn't fat before my cut either, I had a 6 pack. She had a strict no eating in class policy. That'll be important in a minute.
The day after the wrestling season ends I walk into math class and sit down. She walks over to my desk and puts a whole apple pie right in front of me (she knew it was my favorite), handed me a fork, and said she'll ignore the no eating rule for 1 day. I finished that whole pie in maybe 30 minutes.
Linda, I'll never forget that. You absolutely made my day.
Mr. Lyons was my English teacher for all 4 years of high school. My Freshman and Sophomore years he worked along side another English teacher in my school’s Independent Study (IS) program. I met him in that program as a deeply depressed and suicidal 13 year old who was given the option to enter IS, or be put in juvi, as a criminal, for truancy (I had stopped going to school).
Anyways, he saw me go from IS, a semester behind in credits (meaning I was in class of 2013, instead of the class I entered with, 2012), and that very low mental state to entering the regular high school again my Junior year. I was set to graduate on time (I had essentially done 1 1/2 school years worth of work in 1 year). I was in his regular classroom that year and Senior year.
The end of Senior year came, along with cap and gown purchases, yearbooks, and recognitions such as scholarships, honor roll, etc. I had found out that I made the Principal’s Honor roll due to my GPA which meant I’d be graduating with Honors. Knowing I had Mr. Lyons’ class later in the day, I took my yearbook and slipped that notification paper in the back where I planned to ask Mr. Lyons to sign.
Come class time, I approached him and asked him if he could sign my yearbook. He gladly accepted and opened to the back where I had had the notification paper. He saw it, stared at it for a minute and his eyes welled up with tears. He looked up at me and said, “I knew all you needed was someone who wasn’t going to give up on you”. He smiled, asked if he could give me a hug, then signed my yearbook. He wrote, “What I said when I embarrassed us both in class. I’m so proud of you. I know you’ll do great things. You will be missed. Take care, Mr. Lyons”.
Definitely a moment I’ll never forget. At times, I still use the memory of it to motivate myself.
I had just gotten out of an emotionally abusive relationship around 16 and was worried about my ex hurting herself (abuse really f***s up your mind), so I confided in my English teacher. He listened to what I had to say and express, then secretly got in touch with my parents, school administration, and her school's administration to make sure we were both ok. My parents told me about this about a year after graduation. I was really taken back by the fact that he did all of that to make sure we were ok.
I'm Facebook friends with the teacher and want to buy him a beer once COVID is under control.
Told me I was smart and could succeed. I had spent the past couple years at a private school, trying so hard to prove myself. Despite doing well academically, I didn’t fit their cookie cutter mold, so I was looked down on by other students and administration. When I told the guidance counselor that I wanted to be premed and go to medical school after college, she pretty much told to lower my expectations because I wouldn’t succeed. At the end of my college math class my senior year of high school, I ended up in my professors office to look at what I had missed on my final. He told me that I had done well, and that I could my PhD in math if I wanted. That was not what I wanted to do, but when I told him I wanted to be premed, he looked at me and said you’re going to well in that. I know you will succeed. 6 years later and I’m halfway through my second year of medical school, and his words still ring in my mind.
In high school one of my teachers had this duck-bill whistle (literally shaped like a duck's bill and it made a quacking noise). She used it to get the class' attention. One time I guess we were being extra rowdy and she blew the everloving s**t out of it and the class went stone-dead quiet. She got this shocked look on her face, and then took her hair pin out and dropped it and the whole class heard it hit the ground and she got this big grin on her face and we all just busted out laughing.
My 9th grade English teacher asked me if I could write a creepy short story. I did it, gave it to her, then she retyped the first page and submitted it to her teacher in her Master's program. I found out about it because when I asked her what she thought of it, she said "oh, it got an A." I said "what do you mean? You graded it?" She said, "no, look." And she handed it back to me with her name on it as author and an A on it. I said, "You turned it into your teacher as if it were you own work?" A friend of hers was sitting in the classroom too, and this look passed between them that said, "She knows about plagiarism."
Before that, she had been my favorite teacher. She lost all my respect that day.
I broke up with my boyfriend the night before my final and as I was walking to class to take it, my teacher seeing me, told me that I could take it the following day with his afternoon class without me even saying a word. He was a really great teacher!
“Accidentally” left paperwork on my desk that showed government grade projections based on family income which meant I should have failed the class knowing full well it would trigger me to make sure I got the best grade in the entire school year.
Every other teacher told me how smart I was and how well I could do if I applied myself. This SOB knew that was not the way to make me work haha
one time i ran into my fourth grade english teacher on the subway and she went on and on to my mom and i about how good of a writer she thought i was. really inspired me to be the writer i am today.
made us make paper cranes for hall passes...20 years later i can still make a top notch crane
In fifth grade I had a math teacher that would actually staple a McDonalds application to your test if you failed. Thankfully she has since retired.