Being a teacher has its perks: those cringy moments with a student. It could either be a curious (and innocent) question from a kindergartener, an odd comment made by an elementary school student, or an extremely inappropriate remark from a high schooler. All teachers have to do is keep a straight face, deal with the situation on the spot, or report it if it's completely out of boundaries.
In this article, teachers share the cringiest thing they've seen a student say or do.
(Content has been edited for clarity.)
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"I have a student right now who is obsessed with 'Animal House.' You know, the 70s movie. He's utterly convinced that his college experience will be exactly like the movie and has wasted a great deal of time during practice telling anyone who will listen about it.
The other night I caught him boring one of my girls to death with an in-depth analysis of the film, complete with a ten-minute explanation of the plot, all so he could provide context for his senior quote, which is of course from the movie.
The look in her eyes said, 'Either help me escape or kill me now.' I don't have the heart to tell him that the college he's going to has banned fraternities."
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"When I was teaching seventh grade I had a student try to organize a boycott of all Avengers related films because Robert Downey Jr beat up some kid back when he was in high school for liking comic books or something. This kid believed this story and was dead serious about the boycott. He eventually gave it up, but for a few weeks, it was like, the defining part of his identity. He was passionate about it. I brought it up at the parent-teacher meeting, and his parents chuckled and were also clearly sick of it."
"I was in a regional high school in a Philly suburb for a while. There was a really nice kid who was pretty high-functioning but definitely had some developmental issues. He was happy to be a part of the football team... He didn't play, but they gave him a jersey and let him practice. You could see how much confidence he had with the jersey on. He finally got up the nerve to talk to a girl he liked, but made the mistake of approaching her while she was with a group of friends. I'll never forget the dialogue:
Him: 'Hey Dominique, any plans for the weekend?'
Her: 'Ain't nobody trying to holla at you, RADIO!'
Hard to watch, but he later became a football coach for developmentally disabled kids in Nebraska from what I could tell on his Facebook. Good for him."
"I was given a rough class this year because we had to separate the classes due to size two months into the year and the teachers got to hand-select which of their kids I got.
A little background on one of the 10-year-old students involved in this story before I get to the cute but also cringe parts. I had him two years ago as his primary teacher. Last year as a specialty teacher. And this year as his main teacher. I've always believed he was on the spectrum and if he's not, he's the most melodramatic socially inept child I've ever met. I still love him to bits but every day every moment is the end of the world. She is new to the school this year. A very strong-willed child with a temper who can sometimes throw things about the classroom when she has temper tantrums. So basically both of these children can be in hysterics any given day. And they're at the age where most students have realized these are not socially appropriate behaviors and have started to disassociate with them.
On Valentine's day, I had my students write 'love' letters and made sure to explain all the different kinds of non-romantic love (ex. Family and friend). He wrote a love letter to her in the elementary romantic kind of way. Not thinking she would realize it was a love letter. Gave it to her and got a letter back from her. I didn't read any of the actual letters. But they were innocent of what the students said. My favorite and the most cringe part of it was when he came up to me right before lunch and said 'Mrs. [my last name] I did the most embarrassing thing. I am so embarrassed. I cannot believe how embarrassed I feel right now. I wrote a love letter to a girl. I don't know how that happened.' His face was the most red I have ever seen a human face turn."
"When I was doing my student teaching I introduced myself by my name and said that I was the student teacher for Ms. XX. A rumor then started that my mentor and I were married, she laughed it off, but it made me uncomfortable. Then a few weeks later rumors started circling that I was dating another student teacher, then another after that. No idea how this started because we never saw each other during the day, only outside of school back on our campus. Students started making rude and disrespectful comments to me in the halls, and one of my students started a fight with one of the kids in the hall. I had to break up the fight and send one of my favorite students to the office because he was defending the other student teacher and me.
Other real bad one was a student accidentally brought a knife to school (swiss army knife), and he pulled it out of his bag and realized what he brought to school, the sub flipped out and called the cops, and the school went into lockdown. I had a planning period so I was alone in my room when the announcement came and 20 cop cars came racing up to the school. Two female students ran into my classroom scared and started crying asking me if we were going to die. I was a 22-year-old male student teacher locked in a classroom with girls crying their eyes out because they thought they were going to die."
"On Valentine's Day in 2014, a boy acquired a heart-shaped cookie. At lunch, he stood on a table and proclaimed his love for his girl. Asked her to take the cookie, which represented his heart, and handed it to her. The girl was so embarrassed she flat out refused. He took the cookie and crumbled it, saying this is what she did to his heart and tossed it at her.
The kid sat next to her in all of his core classes. My class was after lunch, as I had just witnessed him doing this. We were working on poetry at the time and found out he took my advice... that we write poetry to woo women. It was even more awkward that he shared his poem afterward...voluntarily... in hopes of trying to win her heart.
I mean, this would have been pretty adorable if he didn't throw the cookie at her, or continued to state his unrequited love in every class. The girl was obviously a little freaked out."
"I was teaching English at a university in Japan, and I assigned the students the task of translating a Japanese folktale into English and presenting it orally to the class. One young lady chose 'Momotaro.' It's the story of a baby boy that is found when an elderly couple sees a massive peach floating down a river. They retrieve it, cut it open, and find the baby. He then grows up to fight monsters. 'Momotaro' is usually translated as 'Peach boy,' but this young lady chose to translate it as 'the boy who came in my peach.' She kept saying it... over and over. I nearly died trying not to show any reaction."
"I teach math at college. One semester I was teaching a 'Bridge' course, where students who have previously done poorly in math are given the opportunity to prove their potential the summer before they will begin proper classes. Basically, if they fail the Bridge course, they don't get accepted to college.
One student was particularly defiant to the idea of this class. She failed to turn in homework, even when directly asked, and offered no excuse or reason. Eventually, I directly told her that she would surely fail the class at her current rate. She got defensive and claimed:
'I'm a criminal justice major. I'm going to be a police officer. I don't need math. All I need to do is point and shoot.'
"I was teaching a differential calculus class last year and was talking about continuous extensions of functions with holes. I was asking my students
'So this function has a hole at x=3, what should we fill this hole with?'
A female student of mine said something that sounded so inappropriate all I could say was:
I thought she had suggested certain male bodily fluid. It turns out she was saying cement but pronounced it ce-ment. Half my class lost it, and it was hard not to laugh for the rest of class."
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"I teach eighth grade, the last year before high school in the district. Towards the end of the year, high school students come down to tell the 8th graders about student council, and a few weeks later, we have an election for president, Vice President, Secretary, and treasurer.
This one student who was a total burnout ran for every position. My colleagues and I were all surprised and somewhat hopeful that the opportunity had sparked an interest in him.
The day of the election, all of the eighth-grade students are in the auditorium to hear the candidates give their speeches. They are supposed to be between 30 seconds to one minute long, and the candidates are encouraged to be serious and explain what they hope to accomplish if elected.
This kid gets up on stage and gives his speech, which consists solely of screaming into the microphone for an entire minute. No one laughed. No one clapped. It was simultaneously hilarious, terrifying, awkward, and painful.
The principal pulled him aside and told him that if he did it again during his second speech, he would get a detention. The kid nodded his head, and when his second speech rolled around, he screamed for about four seconds before the principal snatched the mic from him and sent him to the office."
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"I had a student who was pretty badly bullied, didn't have too many friends. His one friend group comprised of people that pretended to be his friends but were his worst bullies. He was so socially awkward that he made proxy friends through movies. He believed the characters provided the social relationships he craved.
He legit believed that he was Peter Pan, and used to crow like Robin Williams in the movie Hook. It was this weird screech type sound. He used to make that whenever the class was noisy enough, and genuinely believed that making that sound was his way of summoning the lost boys and Tinkerbell."
"My mom is a teacher. Her first year teaching she taught kindergarten at a tiny school, so she had a good relationship with all of her students and their families. The teachers had their parent-teacher meetings after school on a Friday. The following Monday one of her students (a child of one of the parents she had met with) asked my mom, 'Mrs. [last name], what are knockers?' My mom, not understanding what the young boy meant, asked him to clarify a little more. He was also confused. He told her, 'I don't know what they are. But my dad said you have nice knockers.' Nine years later and we still tease her about it."
"I was teaching seventh-grade math. My kids had all done well on a recent test, and I asked them for suggestions for a class reward. Kids start shouting out ideas. 'Chips!' 'Pizza!' 'Candy!' Out of the back of the room, a kid who normally is pretty quiet yells out, 'Let's get sweet holes!'
The class loses it. They all start laughing while the kid who yelled is repeating 'I meant DOUGHNUTS! I MEANT TO SAY DOUGHNUTS!'
It took a good 10 minutes to get control of the room back. The kid was pretty embarrassed, but I did my duty and managed not to laugh. Stopped taking reward suggestions after that."
"I'm a substitute teacher, and I work in a middle school where my mom teaches. Every single day I go to work there I observe the WEIRDEST stuff. I once had to call my mom to come to the class I was teaching because I honestly couldn't figure out what to do with a boy who stood up and just pissed himself. Randomly just stood up, said, 'Hey... friends, countrymen...' then peed in his jeans.
Apparently, he was dared to do it for $30. I couldn't stop laughing; I had to hide my face behind a binder or something while I got ahold of myself. I wasn't laughing because it was funny exactly, more because I felt like it was such a demented thing to do I was borderline horrified."
"I'm a middle school teacher and here are some things that come to mind:
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"We were playing a get-to-know-you game called 'the question ball.' I took a big outdoor play ball and wrote a bunch of questions on it. Whatever question their right thumb lands on they have to answer. Her question was 'who is your #mancrushmonday?' (don't judge, I'm trying to speak their language.) She started getting awkward, so I tried to direct her toward a celebrity, and she said she didn't want to say. Okay, so I told her to toss to someone else. It came back to her, and she landed on the same question. She got awkward again so I pushed the celebrity thing harder ('who is a cute celebrity you like?') and she goes, 'Fine! I'll just say it! It's [boy sitting three feet from her.]!' It was silent in the room. He wouldn't look at her; all the other kids were stunned that she would confess her crush in the middle of class with him right there. I just said, 'Wow! That's so bold of you, cool!' and moved on super fast. It was just the worst. One of those things you know she's going to remember forever."
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"I used to teach middle school before graduating to teaching high school. While I was in middle school, I had one awkward student in my last period that took a liking to me. He would stay after school every day just to hang out with me. He was always asking how he could help out after class, like cleaning the white board, putting chairs up, that sort of thing. We would usually talk while he did this.
One day he surprised me by saying 'I bet you'd be a terrific dad. I think it would be awesome if you were my dad. Think of all the things we could do.' I kind if laughed if off, because middle schoolers say a lot of weird things.
A couple of weeks go by. Same thing. He's staying after school to hang out with me when he says 'You know you have a conference with my mom tomorrow' Ya... of course... 'She's cute. You'll like her.' Uh, what!?!?! 'Maybe you guys can go out on a date!'
THAT was an awkward conference."
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"I teach English in Germany, and sometimes taking literal translations can cause a problem. Once while we were talking about going to the beach, I had a student ask me why she couldn't say 'I creamed my pants.'
Now in German, to say that you apply sun lotion, you say 'ich creme mich' or translated: 'I cream myself.' As a result, a native English speaker friend of hers decided to joke and say that she should never say 'I creamed my pants' in English and not say why.
So she asked me. Her English teacher. In front of the class, who also began demanding to know.
I went bright red and called to have an early break."
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"I am a gay teacher. One day when I was teaching middle school, one of my female students told me she had to go to the bathroom.
She came back and told me in front of the class that her period came. It was her first period. She had no idea what to do, she was not wearing anything, and she was in great pain.
You could see the blood coming in. I calmly told her to go to the nurse.
And to my student, Brittney. It is ok to cringe at the fact that you told your gay teacher and 20 other students that you started your adventure to womanhood. Because of you, I carry pads in my desk."
"I had a student that I taught in the seventh grade, and he was my friend's, the librarian, student aide in the eighth grade who had horrible hygiene, and he was often bullied for it. For his birthday we decided to create a 'shaving' kit for him. We filled it with cologne, soaps, a razor, and other items. We ordered a pizza, and we decorated, closed the library and had a small party to celebrate him. When he opened his gift, he started to cry. At first, we thought it was happiness, but it quickly escalated to sobs. We thought we offended him and began to apologize. Through his sobs we finally made out, 'I thought it would make him stop.' We looked at each other and gently asked what he meant. Slowly the story emerged that he father had been abusing him since he was a young kid and he thought if he made himself as gross as possible his dad would stop. By law, we had to call child protective services, and we explained that to him. As I went to do that, my friend tried to console the student. As it was his birthday, his mom showed up to pick him up early, arriving just after CPS. The case worker let her in the room, and the first words she said were, 'Couldn't you just hold on for three more months?' It seems she knew what was happening and was getting her LPN so they could move out (she had not worked before). This sad story does have a happy-ish ending. CPS in conjunction with our school social worker found them a shelter so they could stay together, the father was convicted and sent to prison where he was stabbed to death."