Teachers usually only see a certain side of their students’ lives: classrooms, homework, and maybe some after-school activities. Sometimes, though, a student’s personal life will creep into the schoolyard, revealing their secrets despite it all. From heartbreaking home lives to heart-warming confessions, these teachers of Reddit share their students’ secrets.
I used to be meaner about my GED students sleeping in class until, for some reason, one time I just said, "You look tired today." He then told me that he had just worked a double shift at his fast food job (Wendy's, I think). It gave me a whole new perspective on the other students I saw who were sleepy as well.
We know when they come to school not sober. We can't always do anything about it, but we can totally tell.
I found out one of our marching band students was habitually late to after-school practice of home games for a disturbing reason: His younger sister was constantly running away. He never told any of us and played it off like he was a big jerk. He took a lot of yelling from the marching instructor and various teachers for skipping class or being tardy.
It wasn't until the principal called the parents about his “behavior” that we found out he was helping to look for his sister or prevent her from attempting to harm herself again. He wanted to be treated like every other student and not receive special treatment from us, so we kept up the charade of yelling at him for lateness, etc.
I was a student teacher during this time and would sit with him and just chat, which is where I found this out the first time. He cared about his sister dearly and would start to tear up talking about her. He wanted her “well.” The family had been working with the local police and working with family counseling to try and get the daughter well and safe.
This was taking a toll on the brother, who cared deeply about his sister, and he kind of got “forgotten” as all the attention was on ensuring she was safe and alive. The teachers in the school were very worried about him and did what they could to let him know he was welcome and safe and cared for at school, but they were still limited.
Most of these kids drove better cars than the teachers. I had a six-year-old Dodge Neon, and BMW and Audis lined the student parking lots. Most of the kids came from neighborhoods where the houses started at $600k. It was very middle-middle to upper-middle class kids and families. Basically, it was considered “scandalous” in this type of neighborhood for this thing to be happening, and this was mostly why it was kept “hush hush.”
I had a student a few years back (9th grader) who lived with a classmate for a while. His mom threw him out of the house to live on the street. He didn’t know all his teachers came together to get him new clothes, bedding, school supplies, etc. when his friend’s family took him in. The thing is, that wasn't even the most heartbreaking part.
Poor kid was so scared after being on the street that first night that he slept in school because he felt safer. It was so upsetting, I cried in Target and got him new PJs, slippers, and a fuzzy blanket for his new room, amongst other things, so he could feel cozy and safe. We sent him on every school trip, funded every dance ticket, got him a present for the holidays and said it was an award for something.
He’s doing OK now and I think the family that took him in even legally got custody. We also funded several tickets that kids “won”’ to prom for kids who couldn’t afford to go. A group text would go out, a whole bunch of people would chip in, and we would get these kids to prom. My school is full of amazing staff who do this stuff a lot. I have some amazing co-workers and I’m so proud to call them my colleagues.
I tutor high school students in AP classes, and one of my students is definitely pregnant. Meanwhile, her mom is either completely oblivious or trying to keep it totally quiet. Like, this happened when her mom dropped her off one day: Knowing I’m in the process of losing a pretty significant amount of weight, she asked me a chilling question.
She asked me to talk to her daughter about cutting down on carbs so the girl can get rid of her “paunchy belly.” First of all, no, that’s not even remotely my job as your kid’s private tutor. Second, she’s very obviously pregnant and at this point, you’d have to be blind not to notice. I mean she’s at least 8 months along and isn’t doing all that much to hide it.
Then, my student had a “mystery illness” for a few weeks and she wasn’t coming to tutoring sessions or going to school. She came back about a week ago and had miraculously gotten better and also seemed to have lost about 25-30 pounds. Her mom also miraculously had a baby, despite not being pregnant at all before.
So for everyone who was concerned, the end result was that she had the baby and her parents took over caring for it. I don’t know if everyone will agree with me, but knowing the girl and her family, this is the most positive outcome that could have happened.
In year 10, my students get to go to camp for a week, but it costs $300 per kid. I had one student who seemed really, really excited to go until the permission slips got handed out. The next day, she returned it to me unsigned and said that she didn’t want to go anymore. I did some digging and some math and found out that her family couldn’t afford it.
She doesn’t know, but my school has fundraised enough money to send about 7 kids to camp if money is an issue, but I could tell she/her family didn’t want a handout. I’m her English teacher, so I organised a “writing competition” with a “mystery prize” and she won. I pulled her out of class and told her the good news. Her reaction was incredible.
I said “Hey, your poem was absolutely beautiful [it was] and won the competition. I know you didn’t want to go to camp, but the prize is the best bunk at camp, no charge! And I know we’d all love to have you there.” She cried, and the next day she had a signed slip. I think it’s going to be a great time for her.
I used to be a teaching assistant in a third-grade classroom. One day, I was asked to “grade” their poetry assignments (they all got A’s) and pull the best ones to be put on display at open house. There was one poem a student had written about their dog that had been hit and killed by a car the previous week that left me in tears.
The student had been having some problems focusing in class, and the poem explained a lot. I never would have guessed that an 8-year-old was capable of writing such a moving and articulate poem, or that their behavior problems stemmed from something so painful. It made me a lot more patient and understanding when interacting with kids, and the poem has a very special place in my heart.
My co-teacher was a real gentleman to everyone. When a girl named Wanda showed up after being absent for over a week, he said to her, "My, Wanda, you look well-rested." I then heard her say to her friend, "How he did know I'd been arrested?
I’m a high school and junior high teacher in a rural town. About a year-and-a-half ago, a sixth-grade girl stays out of school for a couple days. She shows back up with long sleeves (and what I assume were bandages), and she says she was burned by "liquid fire." The newspaper ran a story the next day, and it told me everything I needed to know.
It said a man was arrested for throwing acid on his family when he went into a rage at the mom. Looked up the dad, and sure enough it's this kid's dad. He threw acid all over his family. Again, this giant bag of smegma threw ACID on his children in a temper tantrum. She didn't know, but a few other teachers connected the dots.
The girl was already a pretty screwed up kid. She was a raging lunatic just waiting to explode over anything. She ended up getting expelled for attacking the principal, but honestly all that she had gone through changed my opinion of how bad she could have turned out, considering.
When I was teaching, I found out one of my students had almost been involved in a "thrill" kill that landed one of his friends a life sentence.
That the reason she stopped showing up to school for weeks was because her mom wasn’t around and she had to take care of her younger siblings. But that wasn't even the worst part. Poor girl was the absolute best student, too. Straight A's, great personality, and her mom was just useless. Our administration went to check on her and found out the whole thing.
They brought food, clothes, and did everything else they could for her. She showed up a couple more times, but I think she ended up having to do online classes to graduate...I hope she's doing well now.
One of my sixth grade girls told me today that the other sixth grade girl “likes” me. By the look on girl number two's face, this was a secret I was not supposed to know.
I know about the events of the party last weekend, and I know for sure that one of my students is cheating on his girlfriend, who is also my student.
Many years ago, a very loved friend of mine who was a teacher invented a student for his class. He made a Facebook profile for a young man named “Peter Heakie.” Peter had red hair, loved reptiles, and BMX. Every day, my friend would read out roll call for his homeroom, and every day he would read out Peter Heakie’s name and the elusive Peter Heakie was never there.
His students were super excited to meet their new school mate, and soon the rumor mill went into overdrive. The students found Peter Heakie’s Facebook page and the friend requests started flowing. As the months rolled on, my friend told his students stories about how Peter had a bad BMX accident so wouldn’t be coming to school anytime soon.
Eventually, one student even said they had seen Peter Heakie at the local shops.
The mother of a teenage boy told me over the phone that she was encouraging her son to get more potassium in his diet by eating bananas. Why exactly? What she said was so bizarre, I almost didn't believe my ears. She felt his tiredness in class was because he was having too much “bedroom alone time.” I have no idea how she thought that would fix it.
Our teacher found out a kid was gay, and THEN accidentally outed him during a parent-teacher conference. Luckily, the parents were supportive, but it still was a total dick move. She literally said, “…and your son is great. He’s smart, handsome, gay, athletic, artistic. But he just isn’t keeping his grade up.” Nice going there, Ms. Smith.
I was a substitute teacher for a few months for 5th graders. I was around almost like an assistant teacher, aiding the other 5th grade teachers with anything they needed. Some of the girls would always complain about boys and stuff, but I never thought anything of it. Then one day, I learned the awful truth about them.
I saw them talking up and glorifying cutting their wrists in order to get boys’ attention by texting them pictures. I told a teacher and they ended up talking to their parents with the principal of the school.
My wife is a teacher in a school servicing a primarily low-income demographic. 97% of students were free/reduced meal eligible before the district got a grant making breakfast and lunch free for all. She knows which parents are the worst. She knows which "cousins" are actually half-siblings. She knows who's homeless and living in a car, or precariously close to homeless.
She knows which kids go home at 3 PM on Friday to not have anything to eat until school breakfast at 8 AM on Monday.
I work with 11th and 12th graders who receive special education services. My supervisor and I found out that one of our students is an incredibly talented rapper and songwriter with a 1K YouTube following. Pretty amazing stuff. He’s since allowed us to share it with other students and staff, but it was pretty cool discovering it.
You'd be amazed at what we know. It’s not hard to figure out students. But one day, I found out a particularly steamy secret. I discovered that a student had the hots for another teacher and was writing fanfics about seducing him and well, you know how horny teen girls think. Of course, I alerted the teacher to be careful and let the principal know.
I also told them to not make a scene unless it became obvious she was going to go through with it. Otherwise just let her dream, it wasn't hurting anyone. Just incredibly creepy. At least by raising the flag when I noticed it early, I managed to prevent a teacher from being slandered when he most certainly was innocent.
Not a teacher, but my mother was one. My mother had this one 4th-grade student who would. not. talk. She later found out she was mute because of her home life. She didn't feel safe talking at home, so she didn't talk at school.
I used to tutor fellow students. All but one of my 12 students have been over 18, and I’m 20 years old. One of my students left her phone in plain sight when she was going to the bathroom. Like magic, I just see two incriminating texts. They were from what I guess was a friend saying “Really? Isn’t he your tutor?” and the other one “If he’s your tutor then isn’t he like at least 30?”
She continued, “I mean, he’s kinda cute but idk about the age difference.”This was both a morale boost and a killer because apparently I was cute enough for whatever they were talking about and also apparently look 30+...so, yay? I never found out what it is they were talking about, but nothing weird ever happened other than she was a little more “friendly” than other students.
Not a teacher, but a student. I found out that my counseling sessions with the school counselor weren’t actually private at all. A teacher who I was close to heard about the fact that I lost my virginity at a young age, since it was going around the office. They then told me about it; I’d never told this fact to anyone except the counselor.
I was pissed. I low-key wanted to sue the school but didn’t want the teacher I was close with to get in trouble.
I’m not a teacher, but I am in college administration. I had this one intern come in for a formal headshot photo without a tie. When I offered him mine to wear, he liked it so much that I told him to keep it. I later found out his tragic past. Turns out, his family's storage unit had burned down in-between moves and he literally only had the clothes on his back.
I went home that day and gathered everything I could. I even went in my brothers’ closets for clothes they didn't wear. Didn't even tell them, and I don't think they've noticed. Then I brought it in to him. He went on to get his headshot, graduate, and land a job.
I’m not a teacher, but it fits. Junior year of high school, we won regionals by beating our in-town rivals for football. Besides the post game/weekend debauchery, we decided to use the regional trophy as a prop to take “noods” (covering our junk) and send them to anyone and everyone at the other school. We also decided to do our school because why not.
The plan was to take 1 per day as long as we were still playing post-season. It started off as three of us doing it on the first day. By day two, there were about a dozen of us, and people caught on with a Snapchat at the same time from the football team. Behold, screenshots...lots and lots of screenshots. If you didn’t get a screenshot, you bet your butt someone else did.
In the end, all the photos were easily obtained. Coaches then put the trophy in the athletic office for display, and we thought nothing of it. Fast forward 4-5 weeks, we’re joking around with one of our math teachers, a younger woman. A joke came up about trophies and the photos, but I played it off—until one of the girls goes, “Yeah Ms. Smith what did you think of [his] trophy pictures?”
Turns out, she saw them the day the coaches put the trophy in the athletic office. I’ve never been more red in my life.
I’m the student, but a professor helped me escape domestic violence. I was living with a boyfriend who had a terrible temper. Screaming bloody murder, throwing things, smashing things. He only hit me directly a few times, but I would "accidentally" get hit by things he threw. I was hiding in my room almost 24/7, sneaking out at 2 am and hiding in my car, and having panic attacks.
I was a shell of person. That professor was the first person I told. I was so scared that no one would believe me or would say I was overreacting, or worse, my boyfriend would find out I said something. I was truly scared he might kill me if I got him in trouble. I was falling behind on a paper and I didn't want this professor to think I wasn't trying.
I barely said anything, just that my living situation was chaotic or something like that. His response was amazing. He asked me to explain and he listened to me without pushing too hard or telling me what to do. He asked me what I needed to feel safe. He also helped me get time to get away from that situation and get back on track with school.
Most importantly of all, he believed me. He didn't minimize what was happening or blame me or freak out. He just listened. He told me that my wellbeing was more important than school, and that I deserved to feel safe, especially in my home. I told a friend and eventually my parents because of how he responded.
Sadly, after I opened up about it, I did find a lot of people victim-blame and even more just don't want to know. I can't imagine where I would be if he was one of them. If he didn't bother to ask. I'm safe and I'm still in school because of him. I wish I had the courage to say that to him in person, but I started crying even writing this. In so many ways, he saved my life.
A student told me her friend was pregnant. Both of them were only 15 years old. I went and spoke with the guidance counselor, who knew the girl in question, and she said she would take care of it. The girl never missed a significant amount of school, so I assume it was a false alarm, there was a miscarriage, or there was an abortion.
One of my students confided in me about her FtoM transition before she was open about it to the rest of the school. I let them know they could count on me. I also researched binders, as they mentioned them, and talked about binder safety with them. Unfortunately, I don’t teach at the same school, but to date he is still one of my favorite students. I hear from him every now and then via email.
I've been volunteering with gifted kids and teenagers for nearly a decade, so the signs for “gifted” kids are pretty hard to miss for me by now. Contrary to popular belief, giftedness is not only about intelligence, but it brings behavioral and emotional peculiarities as well. Anyway, a 12-year-old student had already caught my attention as he was not only incredibly smart, but curious and witty as well.
One day, he casually mentioned how he liked my classes because he felt like I was the only teacher who really got him, as others tended to find him disruptive. This is another very common trait amongst gifted youngsters—they may be smart, but they are still kids, so they finish things super quick, get bored, and start doing whatever it is that kids and teenagers do.
That only solidified my beliefs, so I called his parents and asked them to come to school later that week after briefly explaining the situation, since I didn't want to get the kid in trouble. They accepted my advice and took him to a research center that specialized in gifted people, and the kid was properly diagnosed and has been in a gifted program ever since.
I’m not a teacher, but a sleep-away camp counselor. I feel like my two cents will fit here nicely. Last year, there was this 11-year-old who was crying on my shoulder for about 30 minutes because he was homesick. After holding him and calming him down to the point where he could talk to me, he finally confessed it all to me.
As he did, he expressed his fear and anxiety about going home and finding that his parents didn’t love him anymore. He was also worried that his sister wouldn’t love him anymore and intrinsically that his family wouldn’t care about him anymore. He said he was totally unsure of his life and didn’t feel secure.
I was able to convince him of the truth: That lots of people care about him (including myself, which I said to him), that he’s part of an amazing program (Boy Scouts of America), and that he had value to many people. But most of all, that his family would still love him just as much when he went home.
I was the student in this case. It was about 5 or 6 years ago, but my music/performance teacher, who later became my senior advisor in my last two years of schooling, saw how upset I was one day—even though I was trying my best to hide it. Once he clocked it, he took me into another room and just listened as I told him everything.
While I bawled my eyes out, he helped me get through my depression and anxiety through music and introduced me to the technical side of live performances. I never really told him I was struggling, but I think he just knew. He was the kindest teacher I have ever had and he always believed in me. Thank you so much.
I’m not a teacher, but I did confide a secret to my own teacher. Before I tell this story, I’d like to say that everyone—literally everyone—said I did the right thing by coming forward with this information. Still, at the end of it all I didn’t really feel like I actually did the right thing at all, and I still don’t. In any case, here it all goes.
When I was in 11th grade, I had just come off of being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and my best friend at the time was in my math class. For his part, he had epilepsy and severe seizures, so we both missed a lot of school. I had also heard a rumor that his father wasn’t very responsible and another reason he didn’t show up was because his dad couldn’t get him out of bed in the morning for the bus.
Anyway, one day this friend invited me to go bowling. When his dad picked me up, his car smelled of cigarettes and it had junk stacked high in it. After we went bowling, I went to his house and saw that there was junk everywhere, literally everywhere. The whole house also had an overwhelming odor of cat urine and cigarettes.
After my mom and I left, we both had never wanted to take showers so bad in our lives. My mom even contemplated calling CPS. Pretty soon afterward, I told my teacher all about what I saw and he got my friend moved in with his grandparents. For a bit, it really did seem like it might have been the right decision, but that didn’t last long.
The reason I feel like I didn’t do the right thing here is that 2 years later, I reached back out to him and we started hanging out again. This time, I met his grandparents. At the beginning, we were like family, and I even had a good friendship with my friend’s dad. Then later, the grandparents had a change of heart. They never let me see my friend again, or his dad for that matter. Then it got worse.
Turns out, the grandparents were really neglecting my friend. He almost died because his grandparents refused to take care of his epilepsy or take care of him in general. He’s okay now because the cops intervened, but when I found all this out, I had instant regret for telling on his dad. All this because I complained about a bad smell. I feel like I ruined my friend’s life, and it still haunts me to this day.
My mom had just lost her job. Meanwhile, I just got a new girlfriend, I didn't have a job, and Valentine's Day was right around the corner. My school nurse, who was very chill with all the students in a good way, pulled me aside and paid for a few things and gave me a new teddy bear to give to my new girlfriend.
She is still one of my all-time favorites for helping out a poor kid just to bring a smile to someone who he'd probably, and did, break up with. Thank you for doing what you did!
Not a teacher, but the student. In 9th grade, I was kicked out of my parents’ house. I slept in various green houses and inoperable buses between crashing on couches. I worked a part-time job and finished school. I wouldn't, and couldn’t, have done it without my teachers. They even gave me access to the staff room and fridge to keep food and do meal prep.
A friend worked at a butcher shop and provided me with a lot of great-quality sausage. My teachers provided me with food pretty regularly. I contemplated and performed a lot of self-harm back then, but I probably would have done even worse if not for the support some very kind people gave me. Took me about nine years to stop living out of a backpack, but I did it.
When I worked as a teacher, I was honestly surprised at the amount of students who worked 20-30 hours on the afternoons and weekends to help bring in extra income for their family. Fast food restaurants, gas stations, the mall, you name it, they were doing it. There was even one girl who worked nearly 40 hours on top of going to school. I can’t even imagine.
I don't know about "secrets," but I'm pretty sure a lot of students don't realize how much info about them is in our gradebook and attendance system. If they've been in the district, I can see all their report cards from kindergarten up, and any referrals they've ever gotten. I rarely bother reading them unless I'm curious/concerned about a particular kid, but it's all there.
You can put together a pretty complete picture of their life.
I’m a student, not a teacher, but I went to class once when I was, let’s just say, “not sober.” I was having a bad day as I had gotten in a fight with my boyfriend at the time. A friend offered me something, and I said yes just because I couldn’t be bothered anymore. It was a huge mistake. Turns out that was the day that we started learning about differential equations for cylindrical objects.
I was so confused and flustered that I almost started crying. My teacher pulled me aside after class and asked me if I was okay and what class I had next. I told him it was Art. He just nodded and said, "Listen to some music and try to calm down. If you need help with anything later just let me know. I hope your day gets better."
I didn't realize until years later that he 100% knew I wasn’t sober, and genuinely wanted to make sure I didn't have a bad time.
My nephew has been teaching French at my old school for a good eight years now, and he wrote a lot of quick recaps and the like on the books he had his students read. He then posted those on a website for students anonymously. You know, one of those websites where you could copy other people's assignments when you needed a short cut.
My nephew always said it was to both weed out the cheaters and help the students who were not as good in French. If they put in the effort to change it up, he would let it slide.
I just learned that one of my favorite current students has a major mental illness. It explains a lot about their behavior the last couple of years, and I am relieved the student has been diagnosed and will hopefully get the correct treatment.
I’m a high school teacher. The truth is, it’s absolutely a piece of cake to see who people “like” on a romantic level. You can see it from a mile away.
I teach professional writing classes in college, and I always give a talk about how important it is to Google your name periodically so you know what shows up in your search results. That way, you can deal with anything that you don't want people seeing, because it's common practice for potential employers to Google your name.
After class one day, a girl came up to me and asked if it's really true that employers will Google you as part of the job search process. I assured her it was and her eyes went really wide and she said, "Okay, thank you" and left. So naturally after she left, I Googled her name. I wasn't prepared for what I saw.
The first thing that came up was her arrest record for trying to break into a warehouse while drunk.
You will never read this. I was your teacher's assistant in kindergarten. I was the one you told when your dad beat you. Sorry about all the CPS stuff. I know they didn't do anything. I know your Mom lied. I know you got in trouble. I know with your family background, poverty level, and race, you are all prepped to be a terrible statistic.
On volcano science day, you cried on my shoulder and told me you will never be smart enough to be a scientist. You could be, but I know that it’s a long shot. I know I did everything I could to make school feel like a safe, loving space. So that when you're older, and you want to run from your situation, maybe you will run to school.
I know that you are such a sweet boy, and I would adopt you in a heartbeat. Some days, I pray you get put in the foster system, because I’d have you in my family so fast. I know your life is going to be a struggle. I want you to know you're loved.
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