I remember a few teachers from my school days who made some HUGE mistakes because they were either really clueless or really indifferent (substitute teachers especially).
As you can imagine, the world is full of these types of educators, which always makes for a humorous story. These AskReddit users recall the times when they witnessed teachers doing really, really dumb stuff. Enjoy!
1. Odd teacher
We had an older teacher who was a few screws short of a dozen. A pigeon flew into his classroom one day and he decided to chase it out. He didn’t just swat at it or guide it with a broom or something. No his bright idea was to imitate it and try to coax it into the hall. So he starts flapping his arms and cooing.
He eventually gets it to the hall and then realizes ‘oh I can’t just leave a bird here’ so he proceeds to chase it down the hall towards the stairwell to the roof access, while still attempting to take off and signal his flock. The fact that this was his first response to having an avian guest audit his history class leads me to think it wasn’t the first time this happened.
2. Just say no
In college one of my Education professors would tell a story about a teacher who, on his very first day of teaching no less, freaked out because the police wanted to do a random K9 drug search in his classroom. He was going off about how his students were good kids and how they would never have drugs. At one point he dragged the cop aside and told him that he knew for a fact that one of the kids had drugs and he was trying to help the kid, but if the cop found the drugs it would destroy the kids future. The cop ignored him and searched the room anyway.
They found drugs in the teachers bag. None of the kids had drugs. The teacher is now unemployed.
3. Smooth Move
My old English teacher ripped out a blood sugar monitor thinking it was an iPhone (kid in my class had diabetes). As he was walking towards the student everyone was shouting that it wasn’t an iPhone. He didn’t listen and ripped it out. The kid had to go to the school nurse and the teacher lost his job because of it.
My Chemistry teacher insisted electricity wasn’t invented in the American Civil War. The conversation went like this:
Teach: “There was no electricity in the civil war”
Class: “But they had the telegraph, right?”
Class: “And the telegraph uses electricity, right?”
Class: “So they had electricity!”
Teach: “There was no electricity in the civil war!”
Teacher needed to fix the projector. Asked if anyone had a screwdriver. No one did. “Does anyone have a knife? You won’t get in trouble if you do.”
So a kid gets his pocket knife out, she fixes the projector. Next day the dean comes in for him. Automatic expulsion at my school. The teacher said “what? I’m a mandated reporter!”
6. What’s my name?
I was told I didn’t know my first name in first grade. My legal name is Billy-Joe, spelled just as you see. She spent 20 minutes telling me my name was William Joseph. To the point I got sent to the principal. Due to my age they had to wait for my mom to arrive before I had the meeting. Mom was so pissed she got called at work for such a stupid thing I got a formal apology from the teacher and a happy meal.
In 8th grade, a girl was known for her long hair and which apparently was never cut in her life. Well my math teacher at the time took some scissors and snipped some of it off for fun and didn’t think it was a big deal. Yeah, she got fired.
Chemistry teacher did a “Chemistry as magic” show and his finale was spreading a chemical powder over his lab table, tapping it with a rod and producing a near-harmless, but spectacular fireball that rose to the ceiling. This time was different. He tapped the powder and the heavy lab table exploded and shattered.
Thankfully no one was injured but he immediately started screaming at the class accusing students of tampering with his chemicals. It turns out he had left the chemical open to the air, allowing too much oxygen to mix with the powder and increasing the reaction by multiple magnitudes. He was reprimanded but kept his job.
I had a teacher cut their finger off with a paper guillotine while demonstrating how to safely use it. In their defense it worked wonders as everyone was so traumatized by what could happen that no one messed around with the guillotines. Ever.
Question on a test in elementary school: “What is a shadow?”
My answer: “An area with less light.”
Teacher’s correction: “Wrong. An area with NO light.”
11. Bathroom break
10th grade. A girl who hung out with some people in my squad needed to pee. Instructor wouldn’t let her leave. Girl asked again. And again. And again. Instructor got pissed off and told her he’d give her a week detention if she asked again or left for the bathroom. She did the pee dance in her chair, he pretended not to notice, suddenly she runs out with her face covered, crying audibly, he’s yelling at her, until a student tells him to STOP… She ended up peeing herself. It was all over her seat and the floor. All because the instructor wanted to assert his dominance.
Not sure what happened to the instructor.
12. Wait, what?
My teacher told me I was coloring myself in wrong. Apparently, no one has brown eyes —everyone has green or blue. I have brown eyes. I tried to tell her she was wrong, but she told me off and took my crayons, banning me from coloring from the rest of the year.
I was ~7 years old and was taking a basic spelling quiz in class. My teacher counted every word wrong (even though they were all correct) because I put a period after every word. Obviously there’s no need for a period, but 7 year old me was thinking “well, I was taught to always put a period after the last word of a sentence.” Young me was just confused more than anything.
My mom actually called in to complain which NEVER happened (she typically didn’t get involved when I got involved in conflict at school). That’s when it clicked how stupid it was for the teacher to do that.
Instead of the teacher approaching me and saying “you see, periods aren’t necessary here. Don’t do that anymore.” she just confused me even more.
14. Maybe shouldn’t be teaching…
When I was in third grade my teacher wrote 1-2=? on the chalkboard. I said -1. She told me the correct answer is that it doesn’t work out. Im still mad about this 16 years later!
One of my teachers asked me to deliver a note to one of the gym teachers. When I got to the teacher’s office I knocked on the door so I could be let in. The teacher lost it…
“Do you not know how to knock correctly?? That was very rude!”
To show me the correct way to knock she sends out her aid who goes outside, closes the door and KNOCKS THE EXACT SAME WAY I DID! The teacher then says “See the difference? How much nicer that was?”
Me: “No… sounds the exact same as I knocked. Here’s your note, bye.”
16. Preemptive Strike
Once, while in Spanish class, our Spanish teacher got mad at us for not knowing something that she was about to teach us.
Yes, you did read that right, a teacher got mad about something we didn’t know. And the best part was that she acknowledged that this was a new subject. Then she asked if we knew anything about the subject, and then went on a 5 minute rant about why we should know this.
17. Dental Work
This happened in a preschool classroom in like ’94. Some context before hand, I had just had some dental work the day or so prior because I face-planted on the sidewalk. So I’m in classroom with 30 or so kids eating our usual lunch. On that day, cut up hot dogs and mac and cheese were on the menu. I think I ate a bite or two and realized, ouch this isn’t working, I remember this vividly.
I walk to the trash can throw my paper plate full of food, food first onto a pile of other kids food. Well, the teach or Assistant didn’t like that I wasted food and didn’t eat so they scooped it all back up on the plate and pretty much forced me to eat it. I did, (they didn’t physically force me) because I didn’t want to get in trouble. Cried the whole time. Told my mom after school. She stormed in the office and raised hell, considering she had discussed this prior. Still pisses me off.
Our math teacher/ basketball coach watched that movie Coach Carter a few too many times, and started trying to be that guy from the movie. The first thing he did to try and make us have “self respect” was forcing every guy in the class room to tuck in their shirt. When someone pointed out he wasn’t tucking in his shirt, he said the rules don’t apply to him.
Someone else suggested it’s because he’s not a guy. He lost his mind because he knew the only way out was to tuck his shirt in or be ridiculed by 14 year olds for the rest of the year. He took the high road and got insulted every now and then. Also he stopped forcing people to tuck in their shirts after that.
Once my English teacher argued “canoeing” is written without “e”… It’s such a stupid claim when you can take a dictionary and check it so easily, right? But she said the dictionary is wrong and there might have been some mistakes during publication. On another day, she argued “bury” is not pronounced as it is, it should be pronounced with “ö” sound (like German ö, so it’d be /böri/) at a time when there were no smartphones, (and dictionaries might be wrong, remember) we approached another English teacher. He said it depends on accent… Later he congratulated me for standing up for what I think is correct and told me I was right, he just couldn’t tell it to her face that she was wrong.
20. Bad move
A Spanish teacher at my school was showing a YouTube video in class. School computers block YouTube so he hooked his phone up to the board so they could watch it. Suddenly he gets a text and tries to swipe up on the message to get rid of it. He accidentally clicks on it and messages comes up. The entire class sees the teachers penis picture on his messages.
21. Table saw problems
Geography teacher doubled as the wood shop teacher. One day he was working on a project while all the other students were doing the same. He was feeding wood into a table saw while also eating a slice of pizza. The act of eating a slice of pizza distracted him enough to saw off 3 fingers. And that is why my school no longer has wood shop. Fingers were reattached and teacher returned to giving geography lessons.
22. “She had the audacity”
I’ll give a little bit of back story. My younger brother has some learning disabilities and it led him to having trouble learning to tie shoes. He didn’t learn until roughly 1st or 2nd grade. Well he had this 60-70 year old kindergarten teacher and in the first week she called my mom in to discuss my brother. She went off about how he’s a terrible student and this and that (she hadn’t bothered to read his file as he had been in speech therapy and the like from 2 years old) and it really upset my mom.
The worst part of it is at the end of this she had the audacity to give my mom his gym shoes which were Velcro and say “He will need new gym shoes as we don’t allow these types of shoes in this class.” Needless to say her teaching career didn’t last too much longer after that.
23. Miss DeBelle
We had a sub teacher named Miss DeBelle. She wasn’t good at controlling the class so most of the time everyone just chatted and goofed off. She kept doing that thing teachers do where she’d stand at the front of the room in silence hoping we’d stop but we just ignored her. Then she’d say “quiet down now!” and we’d still ignore her. After a week of this she was getting more and more pissed. She finally exploded at the end of the school day on Friday and gave us a speech about how we were disrespectful and rude, etc. The bell rang for the end of the day and she was still going on, when a student eventually said “Miss, the bell has gone”.
She became convinced this kid had said “Miss DeBelle has gone” and it was like that was the final straw.
She kept us from leaving for 20 minutes, by which time we’d all missed our bus and had no way of getting home. It wasn’t an official detention and she had no right to keep us. The next day she was fired.
I’m a pretty short person due to a problem with my spine so during high school I was a lot shorter than most people in my class. Our school had this rule that you had to stand up when the teacher came in and do the whole ‘Good morning Miss Whoever’ routine before being allowed to sit down. On one particular day we had a substitute teacher who immediately called me out for ‘not standing up’, and when I told her I was, she snapped at me for not respecting her.
Now the rest of the class were well aware that I was just short so they tried to tell her I was on my feet, but she just wasn’t having it. She just continued yelling at all of us and threatening detentions if we didn’t start ‘showing respect’. It went on until she lost it and came stomping around the table to prove I was still sitting, to find that I was actually on my feet. She kind of just cleared her throat, went quiet and avoided eye contact with me for the rest of the class.
Even to this day her insistence that she was right and everyone else was wrong completely baffles me.
25. Math is tricky
I told the other students an easier way to do a thing mathematically. Teacher became frustrated and told everyone my method was plausible in a classroom but in the real world they’d be expected to do it the way she taught us. I really wish I could remember what specifically this was, but after the students realized that for every problem they came across they could use my easier method, she got frustrated with me and told me that next class I’d be teaching and she would sit in my seat.
So that night I prepared a class study plan, learning techniques taught in the book ahead of where the rest of the class was and I went in two days later (we had a staggered schedule) and I taught the class a new mathematical process.
The teacher tried to annoy me by asking questions but I just answered them and went on with the lecture.
Before I was able to finish she became frustrated and sent me to the principals office. When I got there, I was asked why I was there. I told them I wasn’t sure and that they should ask Mrs. B. Principal came back and said I had disrespected the teacher.
Honestly, I can see it. But I did do as she asked and taught her class.
When I was in high school, my chemistry teacher demonstrated how electricity separates the oxygen and hydrogen atoms in water molecules. He had the complete set up and isolated the hydrogen in a fairly large glass container and capped it. Then he asked the magic question: “If I was to drop a flame into this container what would happen?”
“A fireball,” I responded.
He snorted, rolled his eyes and looked at the “A” student (who only did well because he bought the teacher’s edition of the textbook online). “Wrong. Explain to [my name] why, Joey.”
Smart kid Joey, scoffed at me and flippantly said, “Because it needs oxygen to combust, duh.”
“Right,” smirked my teacher. “There is no oxygen present in this container therefore the flame will be deprived of fuel and go out.”
I couldn’t believe their stupidity. And just shook my head.
Just before the fireball engulfed my teacher’s face, burning off his eyebrows and causing him to throw himself backwards so hard he rolled over his lab table and fell off, dislocating his shoulder, I turned to my friend and whispered, “Gee, I wonder what the hydrogen is going to mix with the second he opens that container.”