Kids say the darndest things sometimes! Seriously though, some of the things that children say to teachers are pretty weird. Their anecdotes can often be heartbreaking, or hilarious, or just straight-up terrifying. Read on to learn more about the craziness that teachers experience at work...
I had a student who told me that her mom wanted her to drop out of college. This poor kid was one of the brightest, and most inquisitive students I had ever met. She was so smart, so kind, and so warm. She said she wanted to be a teacher, because it would be a quick and easy degree, but I pushed her to do what she actually wanted, which was nursing, and she got into a very selective nursing program because she was just so crazy smart.
But in her second year, her mom told her they needed her to work to support the family. Her education was free, I and other teachers and counselors had worked to get her scholarships and need-based grants, but that apparently wasn't good enough for her mom. We convinced her to stay on for the rest of the year, but I left that school a while ago and I have no idea what happened to her. I hope she kept with it, it makes me tear up to think if she didn't.
Oh so many. A kid came in upset and we finally got out what the problem was—this mom told him that he caused her to miscarry. Another kid came to school acting off. By lunchtime, he finally told someone what happened the night before. The dad made him take off his clothes and tried to chase him with an electrical cord. The kid ran outside into the streets of Detroit, undressed.
Thank God a nice older man found him, put a blanket on him, and took him to the authorities. Of course, CPS intervened. CPS was looking for a placement, the kid assumed he would stay with his aunt (dad's sister) but learned that wasn't possible because...that guy wasn't his dad. The kid said something like, "My whole life is over".
One of my students said her parents were fighting. Dad left home then came back to talk. They went out to the car to fight so the kids wouldn't hear. He shot and killed the mother then himself. The girl came to school the next day and just said, "I have nowhere else to go".
There was a pond near our classroom. When I was in 6th grade my classmate pushed my teacher's son who's about three years younger than us into the pond, then said classmate jumped into the pond and kept holding the kid's head underwater. The janitor jumped in and helped the kid, and called our teacher. My classmate straight up said to our teacher that he just wanted to check if dead bodies really float.
I don't know what punishment my classmate got but he continued being my classmate until graduation. Kinda shocking to be honest, since he was nice to everyone.
I had a student who had just moved to our school, third-grader. His first day he had this huge gash over his nose. I don’t know why but I just didn’t think much of it. A couple days later I asked him what had happened, and his answer was horrifying. He said that his mom's boyfriend's dad pinned him against a wall and whipped him with his belt. Then showed me marks on his back as well.
He kind of laughed it off and said, yeah, he’s mean. It took every ounce of me not to cry right then and there. I immediately went next door to get an adult to take over my class and ran to the principal. She called the police and they had some kind of excuse why they wouldn’t be able to come right away. She demanded they be there today because she was NOT sending that boy home.
They did show up, they walked him home, and they watched as the boyfriend's dad packed up and left. The boy was in third grade, had the dirtiest mouth, and was probably one of the funniest and sweetest kids I’d ever met. He did tell me that the man moved back to Samoa later that year (mom stayed with boyfriend so knew stuff about the man). He moved schools the next year though, so I don’t know how he’s doing now.
At a graduation ceremony, I witnessed one of the boys going up to a teacher he'd always been unpleasant with (and she had a reputation as a harsh teacher, but I'm not sure if I'd think that now 10 years later), and open his arms and ask her for a hug. After all, it was his graduation day. I swear the teacher was nearly in tears because the moment was so sweet—or so it seemed.
When she went in for the hug he just goes "Sike!! You really thought so!" The look on her face was heartbreaking.
It wasn't a student, but his father. A guy came up to me on parents' night and told me to call him if his kid needed a good yelling, since his kid was so useless. While I stood there in shock, he added, "He's always been lazy, but he's been worse since his roommate at his last school took his own life. Don't hesitate to call me if he pulls that again".
A (kindergarten) student drew a picture of himself floating in outer space smiling and pointing at a giant red button on his spacesuit. I asked what the button was for. He said, "It's so I can off myself so I can be with Jesus". His completely embarrassed mother responded to my concerned email explaining that this portrait was likely the fruit of two separate conversations she'd had with him that week, the first explaining kamikaze bombers, the second explaining that his recently deceased grandfather was in a better place "with Jesus". Kids are wild…
A student of mine was really insecure with his appearance, so he had said he would change his eye color by applying bleach on them. At first I thought it was a pun or a joke or something, however, I soon realized he was serious. I had to call his guardian to explain what had happened. He was 13 years old at that time.
I had a student who came to school one day. She told a story in class that one of her friends was being mean on social media so she burned her house down. Later that day found out another girl was absent because her house caught on fire last night. Turns out, she did burn the house down, the principal called her to the office after lunch and admitted it. She burned a nice suburban two-story house to the ground around midnight. She was nice enough to ring the doorbell to wake the family before running off.
Yeah, so she is in juvie now.
I had a kiddo ask if she could have some of my veggies, hummus, pretzels at a Saturday event. I thought she might have a carrot or something, but she ate it ALL and extremely quickly. I asked her if she forgot to eat breakfast that day and she told me they have cereal, but she is only allowed to eat it on school days. They have to miss breakfast on the weekends to make their food last.
I work with disabled kids. One of my kids comes from a family whose culture/religion does not celebrate disability. Whenever I ask her what she did at the weekend or over the holidays she always says, "I watched TV". When I go and ask her siblings what they did they've been to the park, or the cinema, or visited grandparents.
The family doesn't want her to participate in Christmas due to their religion which is fair enough so I take her to do other things when the class is doing Christmas stuff. But she can't even tell me what religion they are at home. They aren't allowing her to participate in her own culture and they've given her nothing to replace it with.
The past two weeks she's been telling me how much she loves the Christmas decorations and how much she's looking forward to Christmas and Santa, it breaks my heart. Despite all this, she's honestly the happiest person I know. I report all the concerning stuff she says but it's not deemed serious enough for any action. It won't happen but if it ever became an option I'd adopt her in a heartbeat.
My student told me: "We saw our neighbor die last night". Completely deadpan. I replied: "Oh my goodness! What happened? Are you okay?" So my student tells me. "He was racing his lawnmower and it dragged him to death. It went really fast". I asked him, "Are you okay? Would you like to talk to the counselor?" To which he responded, "Naw, we're fine. We've seen it before".
I had a sixth-grader who I was always razzing for never having his Chromebook charged (I was really a softie who always enabled him to charge it, otherwise he couldn't do work). One day he said, "Ms. X, you'll be proud, my mom had to get up at 4am to bail dad out of detention and took us with her, so I remembered to charge my Chromebook before school".
I was grateful that I hadn't been too hard on him. I was definitely saddened, though.
I worked as an aide in a guidance office. The most disturbing was a kid we’ll call Tyler. He had severe social adjustment issues and tended to say things that creep people out. One day, he comes in wanting to talk to a counselor. I was playing receptionist that day and told him I’d let them know, and asked what was up.
He very blankly says, “I tried to walk out into traffic yesterday.” This was obviously alarming, so I brought him straight to one of their offices. He repeats what he told me, and this counselor says, “You need to come back later, I’m working on college admissions stuff for other students.” He just kind of sighed and left.
How about when adults say disturbing things to students? I had a "guidance" counselor (guidance in quotes because she hardly gave any) who tried to convince me not to apply to one of my universities because it was more paperwork for her. I was furious and refused.
I was talking to second graders about body parts. I explained that “joints” are what make your limbs move. There were three little girls standing together. Girl one asks: “Do you know where your joints are?” Girl two replies: “I don’t smoke.” Girl one looks back at her, very confused. Girl three chimes in: “Well, there’s different kinds of joints.”
I have a student who is constantly accusing the adults in the room of hurting him and insulting him and swearing at him...and he isn't joking. He fully believes these things are happening, despite none of these things happening. And if you tell him that no one is hurting him or swearing at him, he will glare at them with absolute vitriol and tell, "YES YOU DID. YOU PUSHED ME AND SAID THE F WORD".
There is no convincing him otherwise. This student is four years old.
A six-year-old barely getting out the words “my mamma choked me” between tears. A second grader having a full meltdown about his low grade saying his dad was going to make him sleep outside again if he found out. These are some of the things that keep us up at night. Heartbreaking.
Had a six-year-old scream, "I'm gonna cook you up and eat you!" to the daycare director. He had a lot more outbursts like that, where he would go into specific details of how he would harm you. He was also obsessed with axes and knives, and would draw them constantly. His parents swear they didn't let him watch anything violent and had no idea where he was learning any of this.
The parents were getting him therapy though, and honestly seemed like they were trying to do their best.
I taught at a girls school overseas. We had girls from China, the Philippines, India, Nepal, Pakistan. One day I walked into my English class and I noticed one girl was missing. I asked if she was absent. Her fellow Pakistani friends had a plain look and said her dad came to get her. It was not uncommon for these kids to have a grandparent or relative pass away in the home country and they may be gone for a month.
Later in the day I had the same class again for a substitution. I asked about "X" and if her family moved back home. One of the girls told me, ‘"She’s getting married". My eyes got big and I had to remain professional. I wanted to shout, "She’s only barely 13!" but couldn’t. I just said, "Ohhhhh ummmm we'll miss her. She’s a good kid". And I left it at that. You could see the look in the eyes of the Pakistani, Indian and even Nepalese girls. Like this was normal for them even though they now lived in a very modern Chinese city and some were born there.
I had a student who was incredibly bright, loved history, and loved to read about all kinds of things. He was absent for a week. When he came back I was helping get him caught up and asked him what was up. He told me, “Our washer was broken.” He couldn’t clean his uniform, his parents couldn’t get it fixed right away, nor could they afford a laundromat, so he just...didn’t come to school for a week. Messed up if you ask me.
I was student teaching so I was not actually a direct part of the proceedings, my mentor teacher handled the primary incident. My mentor had to call child services because of a concerning comment one of our little girls made regarding her living situation. At the time, she was living with mom, grandma, and a little brother. Mom was somewhat recently back in the picture after some issues (possibly she was incarcerated) during the previous school year; grandma had custody of the children.
I met the mother at a support services meeting during the beginning of my placement and things seemed typical then. Well, they ended up in family court, either directly resulting from that call my mentor made or not, I don’t know. The next day the little girl was in school, I overheard her telling one of her desk mates that “Mommy said it’s my fault she can’t stay with us no more.”
I don’t know what the circumstances were and I didn’t catch the first half of that girl’s story. But it broke my heart to think that her mother must have had her visitations taken away and instead of owning up to whatever her own problems were, she told her seven-year-old daughter that she was the cause of their troubles.
An eight-year-old (male) student tried to kiss me on the mouth with tongue. I told the school psychologist who talked to the kid. Apparently, he said he loved me and that’s what people do who love each other—that’s kinda cute. But with more digging the school psychologist found out the kid was watching explicit material that his dad showed him.
I’m a teaching assistant in elementary school. One day, a second-grade student asked me, "Did you know if you break into a teacher's house and they find you, you're in trouble?" His school photograph looked like a mug shot. His whole family is seriously sick.
My coworker had a second-grade student who would go into the fetal position and say that aliens were going to come out of the ground. He was completely serious. Too many sci-fi movies maybe?
The subject matter for this one was disturbing, but I'll admit that I laughed out loud at the wording. Instead of completing a writing assignment, the student turned in a long, punctuation-free rant about the difficulties of picking a topic for the assignment. He said he had a couple of ideas but couldn't find sources and was so stressed out that he wanted to "commit sudoku". Presumably, he meant seppuku, and so I got his mom and a counselor involved.
Turns out he wasn't serious. He's fine. Just at an age that values histrionics for their own sake. Still...sudoku.
I was giving a vocabulary test to an Iraqi refugee and asked him to tell me what he called the picture of an envelope and letter. “Hate mail,” he said.
One year I had a student who was severely emotionally disturbed. One day he went into the bathroom and when he emerged from the bathroom in our classroom, he was undressed and covered in his own poop. He came running out of the bathroom heading straight for me. I don’t think I’ve ever moved so fast in my life as I did that day to avoid a messy hug.
I mean, I felt a little bit bad because he did have emotional issues, but I’m sorry—when I say he was covered in poop, I mean he had smeared poop from his head all over his body down to his feet. The smell was gagging all of us. That’s the day I will never, ever forget…
I had a student who had no emotions whatsoever. He was nine years old and thought the world was out to get him. There was once he was caught with items that he took from his friends. So when I asked him if he did it, he said “Yeah, so?” I asked if he knew stealing was not right and he said “Yeah but they all deserve what they get” as he stared deep into my soul.
I told him that it was not the right thing to do or the right mindset to have he said. And he told me “If God thought I was wrong, he would’ve taken me up a long time ago.” It was my first year of teaching and I remember feeling a chill down my spine as he spoke to me.
During an internship, my mentor said that I should confront the troublemakers in the next class at the beginning of their troublemaking. So I sent one of them out of class during that hour. The next hour I saw the kid jumping outside the door to reach the window in the upper half of the door. He was making throat-cutting gestures with his finger, while jumping to reach the window. I simply waved at him every now and then.
At the school I once worked at, I heard a story about a student who allegedly joined ISIS. He never showed up again and didn’t answer any calls. When the teacher asked another student, he was told that he had joined ISIS and traveled to them to join their fight and was never seen again.
My siblings and I never looked emaciated but we were starving at home. We used to get meal tickets for free school meals and I received two every day because I was a prefect. I used to use my tickets to buy food and keep it in my bag so I could use it to cobble together some kind of meal for my siblings for dinner. Once a teacher asked me what I was doing and I just told her I was "saving the food for later".
I guess she put two and two together because that evening she turned up at our house with a week's worth of groceries that she'd bought for us.
A fourth-grade boy, we'll call him Q, told me: “I lit a trash can on fire walking to school today, the lady at that apartment called 9-1-1. I threatened my younger brother to take the rap. Now they took him to juvi. My mom is gonna freak.” That day he had a tantrum outside my door and tried to kick in the window. He tried to come in and I blocked the door, he took a soccer dive and I was put on leave.
While he remained in class he strong-armed all nine boys into writing statements that I pushed him. The dean of discipline took it to HR and put me on leave for 6 months until the attorneys could sort it out and bring me in for a discovery hearing and back pay reinstated. The only girl in class was from Haiti and put in my sweat hogs class for remedial reading.
She wrote the truth about the incident in broken English. I was so proud that she learned to read and write in that environment saying, “Q tip all the tables and yell. Q hit the boys. Mr. LocND try to help ... Q kick the windo, I was scare, Mr. LockND hug him from falling on the step. Principal came and get Mr. then Q hit the boys more.”
There were two teachers in the school who were married. While the husband was sitting in the classroom waiting for the class to start, a kid ran in and said, "Hey Mr. B, your wife is making out with Mr. H in his classroom". Turns out they'd locked the door, but about a dozen kids were looking through the skinny door window watching them. The guy didn't even say anything. He just looked crushed. He walked out of the class and never came back...I mean never.
It turned out his wife and the other teacher had been having an affair and he'd suspected, but having it confirmed by one of his students in front of the whole class was too much. The school didn't discipline the two cheaters, but the students definitely did. Both of them had to listen to "cheating" puns and jokes every day. "Hey Ms. S, I'm going to copy off Joe's test, cheating is cool with you right?" kind of stuff.
I get into an elevator at the same time a Business Ethics class is getting out. The doors close and I'm surrounded by what are obviously well-groomed pastel-wearing 20-year-old trust fund boys. One of them says: "I don't get why we have to take business ethics. Business is the opposite of ethics!" Immediately the mood in the elevator lights up as all of his classmates agree with him.
I envision all of them ruining humanity in five years time and despair.
A student told me: “YouTube will replace you soon.”
There was a student I had whose parents never attempted to communicate with or even teach their child sign language. Or even enroll them in school at all. The parents neglected their child for so long the only way they knew how to communicate was like an animal. The school was able to bring the child around but the parents still never bothered to learn ASL. On parent-teacher nights apparently the teacher translated one of the first conversations the parents ever had with their own kid.
I teach K5 at a private, Christian school. One of our poems we’ve been learning is about a woodpecker. In an effort to help the poem make more sense, I taught the kids about woodpeckers, which are common in my state, and looked up pictures and videos of them doing their thing. The kids loved it. We were going outside on the playground that day, so I told the kids to listen close and they might hear one up in the trees.
So, during PE, I’m sitting in the sun watching my kids, minding my own business, when one of my kids comes up and says, “Hey Mrs. PaperThin, I’ve been looking for them peckers.” It took me a second to register what this blonde, chubby-cheeked angel had just said to me. Then I realized he meant woodpeckers...I gently corrected him, “Oh, you’ve been looking for the woodpeckers?” “Yeah, them peckers.” I was terrified he was going to go home and tell his parents I had taught him about “peckers”, but thankfully he did not.
Had a student once that just was...not her usual self. Quiet, withdrawn, sullen. Asked her if everything was ok and the response I got back was: “The voices are back again.”
Had a kindergartner tell me, when asked why he had hurt another child, “The devil made me do it,” while he stared at me with absolutely no expression on his face.
Second-grade teacher here. A student recently told me his parents have a vibrating bed. I had to hold back laughing.
We were on the bus coming back from a field trip. We were passing a nice green park. A four-year-old boy remarked: “I see a dead person.” So I told him: “Oh, she's just laying out in the sun.” The four-year-old replied: “No, I can smell it.”
One student accidentally stepped on a caterpillar while playing outside. Another student came up and told me, “That means we’re in for a hard winter.”
I taught drama for elementary kids. Eight-year-old girl says she has a question and leads with, “So you know those portals that ghosts use to get places?” I told her I had no idea what ghosts use to travel. She starts telling me how there’s a ghost man in her bedroom and she talks to him almost every night. Her parents got a priest to cleanse their house and the supernatural visits stopped.
I came to find out later that the girl’s grandfather provides funding for “gifted children” (I think he called them “Moon Children”? Let me know if you’ve heard of this) and raises money to build underground boarding schools for kids who can communicate with the spirit world. He also provided a monthly stipend to a woman who needed money to continue feeding the unicorns who would eat her backyard plants every morning.
A kindergarten girl told me her father chews on his toenail clippings. She was adamant.
During a science practical, students needed to use forceps to remove a leaf from a test tube. A Grade 9 boy wanted to ask me, "Should I use my forceps now?" but accidentally asked, "Should I use my fore-skin now?" The look on his face when he realized what he said...luckily his friends didn't hear and I managed to keep a straight face, somehow.
Last weekend I sent positive emails to the families of all of my students, because remote learning is hard and the kids are really stepping up. On Tuesday, when I saw one of my classes for the first time since sending the messages, a girl said to me, "That email you sent made my dad happy. He doesn't like me that much, and it made him like me". My heart broke for that poor girl.
She's bright, friendly, and hard-working. I asked her (privately) if she was safe at home and if there was anything I could do to help—she told me her dad liked her brother much better.
I had two students approach me after school. I was outside monitoring the kids leaving the building to walk home, and these two boys walked up and started telling me how cute I was as a baby. Being middle schoolers, I didn’t take it super seriously at first, but asked what they were talking about. One of them showed me one of my baby pictures on his phone and proceeded to tell me my address and (at the time) fiancé’s name. It scared the living daylights out of me.
The assistant principal was nearby, so I called him over and had them repeat what they’d said. The information they had was not readily available with a quick Google search and I still don’t know how they got it. One of the boys’ fathers was a known higher up in a local gang, so I was totally freaked out. The school took the stance of “kids will be curious” and “it isn’t a big deal.”
I learned that I was well within my rights to press charges, but within 30 minutes of the conversation, the assistant superintendent was at my classroom door, informing me of how “bad” it would look on my evaluation and for potential future jobs if I pursued anything. I no longer work there, but I have never been more disturbed or scared.
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