There is no greater task in the world than educating the youth to lead us in the future. Being a teacher can be a thankless job with little compensation and appreciation. To those who stick it out through the years, we salute. However, for the teachers in these stories, some kids have pushed them over the edge, and they have found completely new professions. Far away from some of the demon spawns that are placed in schools and the faculty and board members that govern them. Content has been edited for clarity.
"A friend of mine quit on the spot when he was asked to change a student's grade.
The kid missed over 50% of the classes, never handed in homework, did poorly on tests, etc., and ended up failing the class. He truly earned his failing grade. But because his father was an influential member of the school board/generous donor/blah blah blah, they 'couldn't' let the kid have a failing grade on his record. Summer school was also not an option because the family had already scheduled a vacation during the time that summer classes would be in session. So, the principal told my buddy that he had to change the student's grade to a passing grade.
My buddy told the principal he would absolutely not sign off on that, and if it was so important to him, to change the grade himself. He then said, 'If you do change it, don't expect to see me back here in September.' Sure enough, the grade got changed, and my buddy packed up his stuff and left."
"Not me, but my wife. She had an unusually high number of special needs students (for which she has no specialized training) and zero support from administration.
One mother in particular insisted that every insane accommodation be made for her son, like developing a custom lesson plan specifically for her son, 1-on-1 time during class to make sure he understood, give credit for assignments that weren’t assigned in place of those that were but not completed, the list goes on and on.
The administration frequently sided with the mother to avoid confrontation. All that happened was the other 29 students sacrificed their class time for one kid that didn’t even give a darn about being there.
The last straw really had to be when this kid called my wife a 'freaking B word' and his punishment was that he didn’t have to go to class next time. Not suspended, not detention, he just got out of that class."
"Two things happened at once. After 4 years of teaching seventh grade:
A girl who complained to me for an entire semester of being harassed/groped brought a pocket knife to school and threatened a boy with it if he grabbed her chest again. SHE was expelled. I'd reported the incidents to administrators, school resource officers, and guidance counselors. They ignored her, me, and her other two teachers until she became that desperate for him to stop.
Also, a 'troubled' student saw me walking from the convenience store with my goddaughter. He followed us and found my house. After that, he started riding by, throwing stuff in my yard, yelling obscenities, etc. The school resource officer said to go to the police, they said to go to him. Final straw: he climbed on my fence and shot my dog with a paintball. I threatened to quit on the spot so they moved him from my class. Then over Christmas break, he poked holes in my inflatable decorations.
I finished the year and was done. The girl from the first story was homeschooled to finish high school, went to college, and just started her P.A. program. The future felon became an actual felon at 18, and is still in jail. Go figure."
"I taught a class that was well-known for its ability to break veteran teachers. They were rowdy and disrespectful and some students had very low standardized test scores. Granted, the start of my year was rough, I had trouble controlling them since it was my first year. But once I found a good behavior management system, things smoothed out. I still had trouble with one particular student, but toward the end of the year she opened up to me about harming herself, her eating disorder, and how she was abused at home.
All of their scores improved, their behavior was improved, but it wasn't enough. The principal only chose to focus on how they were at the start of the year and berated me for having such a terrible class and that I didn't seek help from the teacher they had the year before (who nearly quit before Thanksgiving because of them, and whom all my parents had told me they disliked, so why would I seek help from her?). A coworker, also a first year teacher, was given a similarly 'bad' class, but she had a violent student who would throw desks and chairs. The principal knew this, and still gave this first year teacher that class instead of the other, more experienced teacher who taught the same grade. She also did great things with her class, and at the end of the year she found out her father had cancer, and the school had fired her. They couldn't afford to increase the salary of first year teachers going into the second year, so they fired all of us."
"I was a 'classroom assistant' hired by the county. We were more like volunteers who were paid in education grants, so we made less than minimum wage, about one-fourth of it. There was a teacher in charge of us, I'll call her Sandra.
Sandra had a lot of things to do, so I left her alone. I just kind of did my own thing by asking what teachers needed help day-to-day, showing up to Saturday school for tutoring, and doing whatever I could to help with school events. It was hard work. Tutoring for every single class that's offered, reporting physical abuse experienced by students at their homes multiple times, talked a kid out of committing suicide, learning to level with and work with kids that had severe intellectual and behavioral problems. I had no training. It was really hard. I also spent a lot of my own money on resources and supplies for students who needed them, probably more money than what I made in the first place.
But, despite all of those bad things, I put up with all of it. Hundreds of hours of work for almost no pay, all because I legitimately cared about those students. It's a rough school and they deserved a chance. They deserved people who care about them, and someone willing to take the time to make sure they can be successful. I did it for them because somebody did it for me when I was little.
Then one day Sandra asked me to be a substitute teacher for a class. I'm not allowed to do that because I don't technically work for the school, that means I can't be alone with students. I also don't have substitute teaching certifications. Sandra got ticked, walked away angrily, then told several part-time teaching aids (who actually work for the school and should be covering for the no-show sub) that they have to work overtime and it's my fault. She also blatantly tells them that they should teach me a lesson. She actually wrote down a list of things she didn't like about me, mostly related to my appearance and clothes, and gave it to them.
Then over the next two weeks, all of these teaching aides start calling me Fat Amy, Goodwill, and Sleepytimeghee. They also did that in front of students. Then Sandra starts calling me those names, then some of the students start doing it because they see a teacher doing it. My depression got worse. I went from insomnia due to stress, to insomnia due to stress and humiliation.
That was it. I transferred to a different school for the remainder of my service term (where I basically just sat in an office doing nothing) then I didn't sign up again for the following year."
"My mom, an elementary school teacher, had a different principle every year for 5 years because the school had poor performance on standardized tests. For some reason, each one wanted to rearrange the whole darn school and move teachers’ rooms around. My mom was a science teacher so she had not only her own classroom and all the hassle that entails, but also an entire science lab. She had already retired once before coming back because she got nostalgic for teaching the kids in a classroom, but after the revolving door of principles, terrible parents who could not care less about their children’s education, and the ungrateful kids themselves being absolute monsters to each other and her, she had just about had it.
When the last principle requested move #4 in as many years, she packed up the stuff she bought with her own money (to supplement the poor funding of the public education system, another major sticking point), packed up the stuff that belonged to the school, and gave her notice.
She gave so much in her 30+ years of teaching and though her uncompromising principles and high expectations sometimes did not make her the most popular teacher, everything she did was because she cared about the kids and their education, often and unfortunately more than they did. She would put in hours of work each week to try and make the lessons more accessible to ESL students and kids who were passed up by the system despite not retaining knowledge from past years, just so that their standardized test scores would increase from a 40% pass rate to a 45% pass rate. It’s really a shame. After growing up seeing how much work good teachers put into lesson plans, grading papers, and after-hours tutoring, I do not envy teachers today."
"I was teaching journalism in college. A student handed in an article, which was supposed to go in a newspaper, that included no research and multiple emoticons. So I gave the paper an F and told him to come talk to me about it. I explained in short form why journalism exists, why it is important, and that his worst grade is dropped so this doesn’t have to hurt him. Heck, I would accept a redo.
The student in question was an athlete in a big state school for throwing balls fast. I got flack from the dean of students, my department chair, and other professorial types. Why wouldn’t I let it go? Was I racist or hate sports or what?
I just wanted him to try a little harder at the thing that was his college major. I used to pick my words so meticulously because communication is so important. I held to my ethics, he got a tutor after a couple weeks, but it broke me. My mom had died less than a month prior and I had to explain to a college dean why 'lol ;)' in the context of a journalistic article about a bar was unacceptable. My father spent years learning English, and speaks it better than I do. This kid threw balls fast and because of that I was supposed to pass him without question. Let’s go with sports, but between that and my mom dying I could not go on. I figuratively died in that meeting."
"I taught high school. I was berated in the hallway for showing my film class a PG movie. Apparently a student's parents had sued the school district the year prior and won due to their child having nightmares from a PG film seen in class. That's when I knew I simply couldn't make the difference I needed to always cater to the lowest common denominator teaching high school and finished a masters to teach at the collegiate level.
I get so frustrated when I tell folks that I stopped teaching and the first comment is 'those kids can be a nightmare, I get it.' My kids were incredible and the ones that acted out just needed some 1-on-1 time to talk through what was going on. Some had abusive parents, some got little sleep because they had to raise their siblings more or less on their own, some were getting jumped on the way from their bus stop to get home every week. I had a few turn down gang lives to pursue teaching and I could not be more proud of my kids. So please, don't assume the kids are why teachers quit; the administration and the parents are why I couldn't handle it."
"I got stalked by a parent because I was the only teacher holding her ADHD kid accountable for his grades and she wanted me to let him slide. My assistant principal had to sneak me out the back of the school to avoid the wack-job mother, but after, the Principal was ticked that I wouldn't talk to that parent to 'work it out.' This happened two days after the school psych said the mom was 'unhinged,' and that I was being 'targeted for some reason' that the psych couldn't figure out.
I told them the next morning I would not be renewing my contract.
I have not found a job since (possible coincidence...?) but I am so much happier."
"I had a severe ear infection and temporarily lost my hearing for three days.
I tried to push through it for the first day but realized that not being able to hear the 30 9-year-olds in my class made teaching them pretty difficult.
I took two days off and sent highly detailed plans to the supply who was covering me. This was the only time I took off for the whole year.
I returned to work to no less than 10 complaints. Apparently my sick leave was 'incredibly selfish' as having a different teacher for two days was 'very confusing' for the poor darlings, who couldn't cope.
The Head Teacher backed me up and told them to, respectfully, eff off but that was very much the last straw.
I'm bending over backwards working weekends and evenings for you and your kid but you can't afford me a little human decency? I'm out."
"There were several events that led to my decision.
During the first year I taught, a 14-year-old student grabbed my chest. Administration said it was my fault. Another student threw a book at me and hit me in the head. I sent her to the office... she was sent right back to my class.
During my third year teaching, I had a student that cussed me out for looking in his direction. Admin didn’t see it as a problem. Same student decided it would be a good idea to chase me around the classroom with a pair of scissors trying to stab me. I called SRO. He was back in my class the next day.
Still in my third year... my husband and I were trying to get pregnant. We walked out of the school band concert and heard shots in the neighborhood.
Events like this were just the tip of the iceberg. I came to the conclusion that no job was worth my safety."
"Several years ago, I taught upperclassmen at an all-boys parochial school known for its athletics and very wealthy alumni. One of my students took advantage of a girl at a party, but because he was a good athlete and his parents made significant donations, the school didn't actually kick him out until police amped up its investigation and the school started to get negative media attention. In the meantime, I had to teach the kid and act like I knew nothing; the kid paraded around acting like he was untouchable.
Admin priorities during this whole fiasco were just so disgusting in light of the school's very long history and well-publicized Christian mission, and I couldn't wait to get out of there as soon as my contract ended. It was even harder having to attend a handful of weekend admissions events right after the incident and listen to prospective parents ask about how the school teaches respect for women, while admin talks up some bull about the 'Christian values' the school has been instilling in its young men since the school opened in the late 19th century."
"I worked as a teaching assistant in the 5th grade and really liked it, despite how stressful it could be. One day we were having a grade wide teacher meeting and I was told a student had accused me of inappropriately touching them. I was baffled because, not only had I not done that (the most actual 'touching' I had ever done was a pat on the shoulder) but in regards to this particular student I don't think I had physically touched them at all.
Later on during the day, one of the principals came in and started taking female students out to the hall to interview them and I felt truly awful about it at this point, because it felt like I was essentially being punished. Then the principal brought me into a room with two other girls and talked about how it would get better and what not, and they apologized to me and I thought that was it. I felt awful but at least they apologized and I could go on with my life being a teaching assistant.
Two days later, I'm preparing to substitute for my lead teacher when a vice principal came in and told me they didn't feel comfortable with me being around kids and to go downstairs to meet with the executive of the school. At this point I'm holding back tears and trying not to cry because I felt embarrassed and humiliated for something I knew I never did. Anyways I met with the executive, was put on administrative leave while they investigated (again, I suppose) and later that day I was fired for 'inappropriate touching.' I asked what that meant and he said it was any physical touching. I only worked there a month but I had seen teachers hug their students and again, I had at most only ever patted their shoulder. Anyways, that was a month ago and now I don't really know if I want to get into teaching ever again."
"I still teach, but at my first school - where I thought I’d be for life - I got a new student. He was troubled and heard voices but was very nice to me. But then one day he stabbed me in the shoulder with a pen.
There was something called a 'manifestation meeting,' and basically they decided it’s okay for him to do that. My district wanted me to sign some document so I wouldn’t press charges and wanted me to attend 40 hours of training on how to handle someone who is trying to murder you, basically. The kid was back in my class and tried to do it again.
It was the end of the school year and I had sick days, so I used up enough and interviewed elsewhere. I did not press charges, though I now know I should have. Ended up at a much better school and I’ve been happy ever since."
"The other teachers were gossipy and cliquey like they had never graduated high school (I started teaching at 30 after having worked in different types of jobs). They talked crap about each other all the time. The one teacher they all told me to avoid turned about to be the only teacher I could stand. Like me, she also worked 'in the real world.'
The principal wanted me to lower my standards (which were exactly the state standards for that class, nothing higher) because 'they didn’t grow up talking about Shakespeare at the dinner table, like you.' Umm, neither of my parents graduated high school so I don’t know why he assumed I was in some over educated household just because I had a few degrees. He was also just a major jerkwad. (He was later demoted from principal back to a teacher because he was terrible).
The students were okay, but I couldn’t stand the other teachers."