The Most Important Life Lessons

| TX, USA | Awesome, Money, Students, Teachers

My school’s baseball coach/government teacher is diagnosed with cancer around Christmas time.

To help raise money for the family, our service organizations band together and organize a day where, instead of having classes like normal, we have various activity periods that students are charged a dollar per session to attend. In addition, students can pay to have a color streak put in their hair, and several of the boys (and some teachers) agree to get their heads shaved if a certain amount of money is raised.

Of course, not all of our students can afford to pay to participate, but the student council has a solution for that. Students can sign up to come in after school and do some work for a teacher, and the teacher will sponsor them.

There are about 200 students in our school. We raised a few thousand dollars.

Scared You Will Come To Bows

| CA, USA | Awesome, LGBTQ, Students

(I am a student teacher working in an American and Contemporary Literature class with eleventh and twelfth graders. While I am biologically female, I identify as genderfluid and dress in a very masculine fashion. As a result, my attire occasionally includes bowties. We are at the computer lab working on research papers when a student of mine – a star athlete at the school – calls me over.)

Me: “What’s up, [Student]?”

Student: “So, I notice that sometimes you wear bowties.”

Me: “That I do.”

Student: “I was actually wondering if you could teach me how to tie a bowtie.”

(I find this to be very sweet, but I also can’t help chuckling.)

Me: “I actually have a confession to make: I don’t know how to tie a bowtie, either. Almost all of my bowties are pre-tied or clip-on.”

Student: “Oh, really?”

Me: “Yeah. You wanna know the funny part, though? My fiancée can tie bowties, and she doesn’t even wear them.”

Student: “No way. So she ties them for you?”

Me: “Yep! I mean, I only own a couple of bowties that I need tied, anyway. Like I said, the rest are clip-on.” *jokingly* “Sorry that I’m kind of a phony when it comes to that!”

(My student and I both laughed before he went back to work. Sometimes I feel like teenagers are more accepting and tolerant of others’ appearances than adults are!)

Seize The Moment

| TN, USA | Health & Body, Popular, Students

(I have epilepsy and on the days when I have breakthrough seizures I have difficulty sticking with one train of thought. To avoid an extremely confusing lesson, I just tell my students that we’ll be watching a movie. One student has had my class before and knows I don’t like to show movies this early in the year unless I have a sub.)

Student: “Are you okay?”

Me: “I’m fine. Just breakthrough seizures.”

Student: “Oh, you have epilepsy? Are we doing anything to trigger them? I know [Friend]’s seizures are worse when he’s stressed.”

Other Students: *after hearing him* “Yeah, what can we do to help?”

(Keep in mind that this was the fourth or fifth day of school and only Student #1 had met me before. Not one of them had anything derogatory to say and they were willing to completely change their behavior if it was hurting me. The previous semester, when I had a (for me) bad breakthrough seizure, not one misbehaved for the entire day and I was repeatedly offered candy, hugs, and whatever else they thought would help. My coworkers offered to rearrange their schedules to help. These teenagers are the generation that’s supposedly the most spoiled and self-centered, but when it matters they’re the ones that give me hope.)

Your Heart Is Running Perfectly

| TX, USA | Health & Body, Popular, Sports

(It’s my senior year in high school and I have finally saved up the money to go out for sports. I choose track and field since I love running. We are at a meet at a neighboring school, and I’m running the 400-meter relay. I turn a corner and see a girl from our rival school lying in the ditch. I immediately stop and help her. I get her mostly conscious and we start walking slowly across the field to her team. My classmates start booing and jeering loudly. I can see my coach shaking her head. I finally get the girl back to her team, and they get her to a doctor. I go to sit with my team, where they proceed to berate me for the rest of the meet. My coach refuses to speak to me, but sends her favorite student to tell me how upset and disappointed in me she is that I “threw the race.” I am sitting on the bleachers, crying silently, when two students from the other team approach me.)

Student #1: “Hey, we just wanted to say thanks for helping our friend.”

Student #2: “Yeah, that was so awesome.”

(They quickly left, but their kindness has stayed with me for decades. I’m now 43, and I will never forget it.)

Comeuppance Just Desserts Getting What They Deserve

Policing Your Future

| UK | Comeuppance, Popular

(I’m just about to finish secondary school when each student receives a meeting with the careers advisor about future career paths and employability schemes. I’m around 16 years old at the time, female, and 5ft 1in.)

Teacher: “So, do you have any idea what you want to do as a career in the future?”

Me: “I’ve always wanted to join the police service.”

Teacher: *looks me up and down* “I don’t think I could see you becoming a police officer.”

Me: “Well, do you think you could point me to the right direction of how to join?”

Teacher: “Like I said, I don’t see you as a police officer. Maybe you should try something else that you’d actually succeed at?”

Me: *visibly annoyed and hurt* “Thanks for your help but I think I can manage this on my own.”

(The kicker? I went on to study public services in college, police studies in university, and graduated with a First Class Honours Degree. I joined the police at age 21, sat my sergeant’s exam seven years later, and got promoted. I also visited that school as part of an open day, and gave a speech telling the school to never give up on their dreams. The teacher was visibly shocked to say the least!)