I think we can all agree that teachers are overworked, underpaid, and completely disrespected.
And they keep showing up to work anyway.
Not all of them are saints, of course, but if this thread is anything to go by, a huge number of them have left enormous impressions on many of us.
Take it away, Reddit.
1. The giveaway point
My high school biology teacher, on the end of every quiz or exam, would put a giveaway point question.
The question was always the same: Science is: A- Exciting, B- Interesting, C- A Challenge, D- All of the above. No matter which you marked you got the point. However, since this was on every exam, the saying was sand blasted into my long term memory.
This led to me always somehow muttering this whenever I was taking an exam in University (substituting the word science with whatever necessary). Then it led to me muttering it whenever I was dealing with something stressful.
Now it has become a fall back whenever I run into a life roadblock and everything is simply designated A- Exciting, B- Interesting, C- A Challenge, D- All of the above.
It’s simple but it helps keep me from being too negative.
2. D**thbed confessions
Coming up to our final year 12 exams, my maths teacher handed out an article on the most common things people said on their d**thbed. She said no one wished they had worked longer hours; that they had spent more time at work than with their loved ones. If we didn’t get the grades we wanted, that’s okay, because there’ll be a back doors to where we wanted to go.
Failure is okay. It’s only a minor setback. What’s important is having a good balance between work/studies, family/friends and our own hobbies/interest.
3. Intelligence of the future
2005 a teacher said intelligence of the future will not be defined by how well you know one skill but instead how well you can find information and decipher what information is good and bad.
4. Mercury boiling
In 1974 I was told/taught that the planet Mercury had a tidally-locked orbit around the sun. That one side of the planet faced the sun all the time.
It’s not true.
Mercury’s true orbit and rotational periods were worked out in 1965.
5. The mark of maturity
I had an English teacher my freshman year of highschool who was one of the RARE adults that treated all of his students with respect while at the same time challenging us to do better.
I distinctly remember him telling our class
You are not as mature as you think you are, but you are more mature than your parents give you credit for
He also told us about an agreement/rule he had with his own kids. He understood how hard it was for kids to do the right thing in the face of peer pressure. So he had told his kids that if they were ever in a situation (underage drinking, drugs, whatever) where they knew they shouldn’t be, they could call and using an previously agreed upon codeword that was banal and unsuspicious, he would know he needed to go get them and be ‘the bad guy’.
He would show up, “Uncle Buck” style and get them out of wherever they were. This would allow them to save face with their friends and there would be no consequences for being the situation in the first place.
6. Or did he?
Whenever my teacher said anything controversial that he didn’t want repeated, he would preface it with ‘Don’t quote me on this because I’ll just deny it.’ I still use that.
7. Follow the money
My favorite history teacher told me “follow the money”. Not in life as such, but in looking at events in history.
It wasn’t enough to say “X country invaded Y country because they wanted more power”. Why did they want those lands? What was going on in the economy that made it worth the resources to invade?
In truth it rarely comes down to ideals.
8. The start up
My freshman year history teacher told us first day of school about how he went to college with Bill Gates. Said he was one of the people that Bill asked to invest in his start up. He had declined.
“And here I am…teaching history class to high schoolers” – [user unknown]
9. The call
My music teacher when I spent a large length of time skipping school due to various reasons. She had phoned me after spending hours tracking a way to contact me because she was worried.
“I’m not phoning to tell you off, i’m phoning to make sure you’re okay. You don’t have to go to the classes you don’t like, your exam is on wed and I’m phoning to let you know, no matter what I know that you’d still be practicing because you’re a bright student and I know you’ll go far no matter what you choose to do”
10. Get in sync
My favorite teacher in high school (Coach brineger) once told me that he bought his niece front row tickets to see N’sync. Apparently, for some reason or another, her mother could not go with her so instead, he did. He then told me that midway through the concert one of the guys ended up with a hole in the crotch of their pants. This is the a direct quote by him:
“I guess he didn’t notice, or maybe he just didn’t care? Either way, this dude was free ballin and from my vantage point, I could see it all. So there I am, sitting at a concert I didn’t want to be at, with a star struck 13 year old, watching some dudes balls shakin above my head. Good times”.
He was an awesome teacher though and never gave up on me.
11. Reach for the stars
One of my high school teachers asked me if I had ever considered pursuing astrophysics. I hadn’t. I was asking a lot of questions and it was a really interesting topic to me. It was the first time a teacher ever saw anything in me and believed in me.
Until the pandemic hit, I majored in physics with a minor in astronomy. When the pandemic started, our professors basically said “go teach yourselves” and ghosted us and I was screwed. I truly believe if the pandemic hadn’t happened that I’d still be pursuing that program. Unfortunately, I do not have the funds to do so. I’m now an education major.
12. Never forget
On 9/11, while classes were all but canceled, most teachers just rolled in tv’s and left the news on.
Not Jim R.
He got up and lectured, to the groans of students. He talked about the effects this would have on the economy, our politics, our culture and society. And he was right. In somewhat broad strokes, of course. But this was literally hours after the towers collapsed. When so much was still unknown, frightening and tragic. It really gave me what I would consider a solid base of understanding the things that would come in the next decade.
He talked about how traveling would change with restrictive security measures, how politics would take advantage of ‘terrorism’, how the wars we will engage will be paid for by my generation, my kids generation and so on. He talked about how racism will spike toward middle eastern peoples out of anger and fear and how that is totally wrong. As a vet and former cop, he cautioned us to not join the military while emotions ran high and a sense of patriotism was thick in our veins.
It was a gift. As the years went on, wmd’s, the iraq war, tsa, department of homeland security all came about, I felt like I already knew. I will never forget that fourth period class.
13. Mr. Taylor
“Good morning. I’m Mr. Taylor and I will be teaching grade 10 English this semester. First let me address what you’re all wondering. Yes. This is a glass eye. I lost it playing darts.”
DART TO THE EYE. Will stick with me for LIFE.
14. The letter of recommendation
A teacher of mine said he would write me a letter of recommendation, but it had been a week or so and he hadn’t gotten back to me yet.
I went in a 3rd time to remind him and I started off with an apology, to which he corrected me, saying “don’t ever stop advocating for yourself”
It’s advice I haven’t forgotten since.
15. Verbal guns
“Leave your verbal guns at the door.”
This was the HS football coach’s first words teaching s** ed at my high school. He used the metaphor of the old American west where cowboys would leave their guns at the door when they entered a saloon to drink so nobody would get killed in a drunken outburst. He said we’d talk about a lot of topics that might make us feel uncomfortable and tempted to make a joke at someone else’s expense to break the tension. He asked us to leave our ‘verbal guns’ at the door so everyone could feel comfortable asking honest questions.
This was back in the late eighties. He was way ahead of his time.
16. The rude dude
I had a gym teacher that was known for being strict/rude. He actively would make kids cry on the regular.
Anyway, after my dad passed away he was still super strict towards me. But one day after track practice he caught me in the hall and said “your dad would be so proud of you.”
It caught me so off guard, I actually cried
17. Always ask questions?
My chemistry teacher told my mom that I would do so much better if I asked questions.
I’ve found that this is true in all stages of life. Ask questions!
18. The coffee gambit
My partner had a high school teacher that would walk through the busy hallways at school shouting “HOT COFFEE, HOT COFFEE” while holding an empty mug.
He just wanted people to get out of his way and it always worked.
19. That makes a lot of sense
My English teacher in grade 6 put “A” and “LOT”on 2 separate pieces of paper and taped them to opposite walls on the classroom.
Then she got a student to run from “A” to “LOT” while yelling with them “AAAAAAAAA” * gets to other side* “LOOOOOOOTTTT” to teach us that they were separate and that ‘alot’ is incorrect.
I have never forgotten and can still picture it as if it were yesterday ? it’s been 12 years
20. Strike it lucky
My highschool baseball coach / Sociology teacher always used to say ‘Those who are prepared create their own luck’ before exams.
This is a true life lesson.
21. A real piece of history
Best history teacher I ever had was a substitute.
Final day of his weeks long run, I told him as much and asked him why he didn’t do it full-time. He said he’d like to, but he doesn’t coach any sports. All the coaches are history teachers because they can get away with spitting out names and dates and descriptions and that counts. His style was more cause and effect and while more engaging, it wasn’t deemed necessary by the school board. I said you should move to a better area. He said naw, he liked it here because it’s where he grew up and where he’d die.
He confided in me that he had a terminal disease. Died the next year.
22. Feel the chemistry
Our high school chemistry teacher said:
“Remember – a warm test tube or Bunsen burner are no substitutes for a satisfying relationship.”
23. Step up and say something
In my childhood only one person ever tackled my mother about her abuse of me and my siblings.
It was parents day and my b**ch of a mother, as usual, turned up to take the credit for my being top of the class again. At one point there was just me, my **** b**ch of a mother, and Mrs. Soames (physics teacher) in the lab. Mrs Soames quite calmly challenged her, saying “Mrs xxxxx, why do you treat [Tomsdottir] the way you do? She’s a good girl and doesn’t deserve it.”
To my astonishment, my evil b**ch of a mother was speechless. No-one had ever confronted her before and she just didn’t know where to put herself.
It was easy for the other teachers and pupils to make snide, patronising remarks about this cow to me. A 13 year old girl isn’t in a position to do anything about it, and I’m guessing they were trying to ease their consciences about the fact that they were too cowardly to intervene.
But Mrs Soames has been a role model for me ever since, and an unforgettable example of those people brave enough to tackle a bully in the presence of their victim. To have someone stand by you when you are vulnerable, and make their support for you clear – I can’t tell you how that changed my view of other people.
24. Find the formula
My favorite math teacher had a philosophy about us understanding how to get to formulas instead of memorizing them.
Basically if we memorized them we were gonna remember them wrong and would never be the wiser because we thought we remembered it.
25. What the f**k are you doing here?
Struggled with dyslexia and a learning disability my whole life. English class was h**l for me every year.
Senior year my lit teacher read some short story that was required of me and said, “What the f**k are you doing here. You are starting in my AP Lit class starting tomorrow.”
I passed the AP test and my entire life really began because he believed in me. I’m now a high school teacher, and while not as great as him, really think I’m doing good work.
26. The fallen branch
Class camp, we’re out walking a trail to the next campsite, carrying our lives in our packs.
I was not in great physical shape and was well back in the rear. So it’s basically just me and one teacher to make sure no one fell too far back.
We came to a part where a branch had fallen across the trail. Big enough to be an effort to move it but not so large that it couldn’t have been moved by any of the thirty+ other students and teachers that had already walked around it.
Without even thinking about it, I grabbed the branch and tossed it to the side of the path.
The teacher said to me: “Thirty boys walked past that branch. It took one man to move it, and he made life easier for every person after him.”
It became a personal motto, of sorts: “Make it easier for the people who come after you.” Although when you do a good job, the person who comes after you is usually also you.
27. Unforgettable, but in a bad way
My mom had me when she was in high school. She had to take me to school with her in a stroller every day.
I ended up attending the same school and most of her teachers still taught there and remembered me as the baby. Most had super fond memories of bringing me stuffed animals and s**t for me to play with in their class…except one, Mrs. Englehardt, she straight up to my face said “I remember you. Your mom was that wh**e”.
28. That smarts
I had a friend that was in the same history class as me and she had a HUGE crush on the teacher. She was also salutatorian of our class and literally voted most likely to succeed. I graduated with barely a 3.0.
She and I both had our history teacher sign our yearbooks and in mine he wrote “I’m going to miss our banter in class. You are a highly intelligent individual.” In my friend’s yearbook he wrote “Keep on truckin’.”
I never felt particularly competitive with my friend, but that little bit of irony really changed the way I understood how people view intelligence
29. Laying down the law
“Young man. I said no talking. If you have something to say, meet me out in the hallway and we’ll discuss it like men.”
– Another freshman history teacher filling in for my regular teacher after I (a new kid who had only been enrolled for 2 days) whispered “Who is that?” to my neighbor
30. It’s not your fault
I had a baseball coach for English sophomore year and we had to write a daily journal.
One day our theme was writing about something we regretted.
I wrote about how when I was younger, my mom had cancer and regretted not being there more for her. I didn’t think he read these things and ended up writing you did nothing wrong and being young, you couldn’t have known any better.
He was a good man/teacher
Well, MOST of that was pretty inspiring anyway!
What’s something unforgettable a teacher’s told you?
Share it with us in the comments.