17 "Time To Retire" Horror Stories From Teachers Who Had Awful Encounters With Today’s Students

    "I told my boss, 'Either he leaves, or I do.' Thankfully, he never came back to my class..."

    We've probably all recently heard stories from teachers who are underpaid and fed up these days. From disrespectful trends like "mewing" to unhinged parents, teaching in 2024 can be a rough gig. After hearing all these stories, I decided to ask the BuzzFeed Community about their experiences with nightmare students in their classrooms. Here are the wild, scary, and heartbreaking experiences they shared.

    1. "In one of my first years of teaching, I was in the middle of class when a student from another period stormed in on his cellphone, yelling. He ran up to me and put me in a headlock with the phone on my ear. The person on the phone was his mom. They were both angry that I gave him a failing grade (20%, not 0%!) for a lab report he wrote about an investigation we didn't do. The administration patted him on the back and sent him to class without consequence or admonishment."

    "This student was a tall and burly high school boy. I am a short woman. Administrators told me that it was illegal for teachers to press charges or report students for assault/battery. 

    After many more issues, I left that school at the end of the year and found out he had done the same thing again. That teacher walked out and pressed charges. Now, I'm in a different state and couldn't be happier than I am at my current school."


    2. "One of my current upper elementary school students tends to be less than truthful with his parents whenever he is disciplined at school. After being on the receiving end of belligerent phone calls from his parents berating me because their precious child could not have possibly done whatever it was they were disciplined for, I decided I'd start recording them in the act. One day, this student was verbally disrespectful and disruptive during independent work time."

    Child sitting beside lockers, appearing thoughtful

    3. "I had a very problematic student in the last year of my 29-year career. He was suspended several times, missing 90% of the first semester. At a meeting with the admin and his parents, he wanted to know if he could still attend high school the following year after missing so much school. The answer was, 'Oh, absolutely!' Not only did this negate any effort to teach him, but it permitted him to act even more inappropriately for the remainder of the year. That was the incident that solidified my decision to retire that year."


    4. "This one is more about the parents. I taught pre-K, and a requirement for my particular class was for kids to be potty trained, but I completely understood that kids would still have accidents. What I didn't understand was the dad who would shove his kid in the classroom with underwear full of poop every single morning and run out of the building before I could say anything. This same kid snuck up behind me while I was sitting with another child and used scissors from the art center to cut a lock of my hair. Luckily, it wasn't noticeable. When I told his mom at the end of the day, she laughed and said it was probably because he just got a haircut and wanted to be like the hairstylist! No apology."

    A teacher interacts with young students during a classroom activity

    5. "I had a sixth-grade student who would lie about me to get himself out of trouble. Once, when I called home to tell his mom and dad he plagiarized an assignment and I needed him to redo it, he told his parents that I picked up his Chromebook and threw it at him during class. They came in the next morning, trying to get me fired for assaulting their child. The principal interviewed the student along with every other student in my classroom. Every student said it never happened, but the kid kept saying I hit him. Finally, several hours later, he finally admitted he had made it up."

    —Anonymous, 35, Indiana

    6. "I'm currently a lecturer at a top-ten public university. For reference, I just graduated with my second master's, so this is my first post-graduation teaching gig. On my very first day on the job, first class, hell, first five minutes of 'introduce yourselves,' I had a student strip. No, it's not what you're probably thinking. I'm going around the room and get to one student in the front row. They give their name and seem like a quiet kid like it will be a stock and standard introduction."

    Professor lecturing in a university classroom to attentive students

    7. "In my first year of teaching, I became sick and had to get a substitute. While the substitute decided to play on her phone, a student of mine thought it would be fun to army crawl to my desk, steal a stapler, and attack another student in my class by actually stapling her head twice, causing bleeding. My principal BLAMED ME despite me being out sick because my class 'should not want to act like that when their teacher is gone,' and she related it to my classroom management."

    "The kicker was that the stapler girl had bullied the attacked girl for months, and I had dozens of emails I sent to my principal begging for help and strategies. I also met with her, but she felt I was 'exaggerating typical girl drama.' Thank god I made copies! 

    The mom of the victim chose to transfer her daughter to another school. The Teachers Union stepped in because my principal tried to pink slip me over this, and luckily, they sided with me. The principal got a slap on the wrist by the board and nothing more. I am so happy at my current site, but I almost quit that first year."


    8. "I had a senior in high school who rarely came to school, and when they were in school, they would cuss me out for having them attempt to do anything, even writing their name on their papers. They came from a wealthy family who just gave their kid whatever he wanted. When the end of the year came, he could not graduate because of his grades and not attending school. His parents threw a fit and gave money to the school to graduate him. The higher-ups in the school told me that his 24% in my class would be raised to 65%. If I did not raise it, then they would. The parents just bought their kid a diploma, and then a week later, I got a $500 gift card for 'helping them out.' I never felt so dirty."

    Students in a classroom, one receiving a paper with a failing grade

    9. "A pre-K teacher here for over seven years. I don't even know which story to pick, but one student comes to mind. This child, who was five, loved to attack other children. I mean flipping them off the slide, biting them in their faces, scratching, pushing — anything you could think of. The mom was a 'gentle parent' and never disciplined him. Well, after about six months of dealing with him biting, hitting, and attacking me along with my class, he pushed me so hard one day (he was a large child) that I fell back and hit my head on the wall. I told my boss, 'Either he leaves, or I do,' and she tried to fight back. But thankfully, he never came back to my class."


    10. "I was working in a two-year-old classroom, and one of the littles was a HANDFUL. Her behavior was so awful a staff member quit mid-day because the leadership was doing everything possible to change it. Ultimately, it fell on the parents who REFUSED to see the real issue and the willingness to change it. This child ran into the parking lot, ran away from the group on a walk, and ran out the classroom doors with the biggest smile. After having staffing issues, I was assigned to said classroom, where toys were thrown by the child, who attempted to run away, and finally, she slapped me across the face with a smirk."

    Teacher and four children engaging with colorful building blocks on a table in a classroom

    11. "I taught preschool for almost eight years. I had a student who was so physically violent. He punched his mom in the stomach on his intake day because it was time to go home. He would scratch the other kids for no reason and kick the teachers in the face when it was naptime. I recommended he get an observation from Early Intervention, and his mom said she saw no reason to get anyone else involved. He had to get one before entering the school system, and he spat at the observer before flipping the table. I don't know what happened after he graduated. I just hope he and everyone around him is safe."


    12. "She was in my seventh-grade class and was on probation for various reasons, including things like drinking and running away. She made me want to quit, but not for the reasons you'd think. She had a tough time in most of her classes due to behavior issues, and the principal was constantly intervening and complaining in staff meetings about having to have 'students like her' at the precious charter school. This poor kid needed someone to care about and help her, yet no one seemed to listen to my concerns."

    Teacher in striped sweater engaging with young student in school hallway

    13. "My job allows me to teach students for all three years of their middle school experience. That is usually wonderful, but sometimes you get 'that group.' These kids made horrible comments when my mother and I both had cancer. They left notes that said things like, 'Cancer makes you ugly.' When my mom died, they complained that it was about time. I have never been so happy to see a group move on to ninth grade! (One student did apologize to me. I did not pretend that it had not affected me. I accepted his apology and praised him for his growth.)"

    —Debbie, 56, Georgia

    14. "I taught in a range of private international schools. About 17 years ago, I started working at this one school and had the sixth grade (year seven in the UK) daughter of the secondary head and the high support needs coordinator. The main problem was with this girl's mother, who was a manipulative narcissist. She used her daughter to spy on staff. It reached the point where other staff referred to this girl as 'deputy head' because anything you said got reported back to her father."

    Students seated in a classroom facing the front, some with notebooks, next to backpacks

    15. "I have taught in about every school environment there is. I knew the end was near when I got viciously kicked in the vagina trying to break up a fight between two students. After giving birth to six kids, all it took was a 13-year-old girl with a hell of a boot to break my vagina."


    16. "College professor here. The ONE student I recall was in my applied statistics class about 10 years ago. They showed up occasionally to class, often late, and didn't do well on homework or exams, but surprisingly answered a lot of class questions. Anyway, he stopped attending and, at about midterm, racked up enough absences to get an automatic F. He made a few requests to 'see me' but never followed through."

    Instructor addressing a group of students in a lecture hall

    17. "In my first year of teaching, I took over for a beloved teacher who retired. The senior class decided that they hated me simply for existing, so a couple of the leaders in the class made it their life's work to get me fired. The head girl held weekly meetings at her house where they would get together and try to come up with stories about me so that they could cast doubt on my teaching abilities."

    "She got a few parents to make an Open Records request for my CV because 'there was no way someone my age (36 at the time) could have done all of the educational stuff he says he has.' 

    She got her parents to complain to the administration that I had ruined her chances to get into her top Ivy League school because I wouldn't allow her to do whatever she wanted. The daughter had to 'settle for that school in Connecticut' instead. 

    At the end of the year, I wished all of the senior class the best of luck when they get out into the world, and the young lady and her parents stood up and objected loudly to me giving an encouraging speech, stating that I had been such a terrible person all year. 

    I let them get it all out, and then I invited them to either stick around for the awards or leave and let us all enjoy the evening. Kids (and their parents) make people not want to teach anymore."

    —Anonymous, 43, Texas

    Do you have a story of a nightmare student in your class? Let us know in the comments or fill out this anonymous form. Conversely, if you have an exceptionally positive experience to share about a past student you had, feel free also to share that with us.

    Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.