12 Teachers See Red Flags in Their Students

Some are heartbreaker, some are frustrating, some are anger-inducing. All are worth a read, as this is what many schools look like today. Teachers are counselors, parents and teachers are wrapped into one and the deserve praise for the work they do!

  1. This Is NOT Giving Your Kid A Leg Up…

Once had a parent find out that a) I’m gay, and b) I have some music industry contacts. They immediately offered me ” unlimited, unsupervised access” to their 16 year old son in exchange for helping him break into the music business. I was 35.

I reported them immediately.

  1. The Things That Slip Through The Cracks

I had a student ask me if I had any old glasses frames she could have, because hers broke. I knew she was in the foster care system, so I asked her why her foster mom couldn’t get her some new ones. She told me that her foster mom said she could only get new frames every four years, which made her sad because her real daughter had just gotten a second set of frames that year. I had noticed several other things (the student asked me if I had any extra female hygiene supplies so she could have some at night, so I sent her to the nurse to get extras) that seemed like they should have been covered by the state.

I reported this, and it turned out that the foster mom was clearly not providing basic necessities for either of her foster kids. I was really glad I went with my gut.

  1. Some Teachers Deserve All The Medals

Had a kid I taught in preschool who would get unreasonably angry, violent, and loud for no obvious reason. Everything would be fine and then he would totally snap. All we could do when he did was to usher other kids away and wait for him to calm down.

His mom seemed nice enough when I met her and his dad didn’t appear to be in the picture (he never showed up, was never discussed by mom or child, etc.) One day, mom didn’t show to pick him up.

I was the only teacher left, since he was the last kid, and he just sat at the window, sobbing.

She didn’t show up until 7pm that night and our building closed at 5:30pm. By that time, he was completely inconsolable and it was all I could to do run down to the kitchen with him, make him a sandwich with the director’s permission, and let him watch movies on my phone.

Over the course of the next few weeks, this started to happen more and no matter how many times the director talked to his mom, she would continue to come late.

Then his lunches started to deteriorate and he would come to school hungry, having not been fed breakfast.

He was only with us for the 3 months between preschool and kindergarten and I have no idea what happened to him, but the director was paying close attention and (luckily) we never saw any physical abuse. I always brought him breakfast and made sure I had an extra sandwich and caprisun for him when I came to work.

That kid didn’t go hungry on my watch.

Poor kid was just being forgotten.

  1. You Can’t Save Everyone From Themselves

I had a kid my first or second year– so this was 1995-96– who was pretty scary. I teach English, btw. He was just an a–hole; had an excuse for everything, tried to bully other kids, when we had discussions about literature he wanted to derail the conversation into weird territory… hard to explain, but the kid was just off.

At parent conference time, mom came in, and I was careful to say some positive things.

Him derailing conversations because “creativity,” for example. Mom cried and told me no one had ever said anything positive about her kid, before me. She even wrote me a thank you note. I also covered the aspects of his behavior that concerned me, of course.

Anyway, after high school he got arrested for theft, drugs, and assault and spent some time in jail. He committed suicide before he was 30.

  1. Bullied By Her Own Family

My mom worked at my elementary during and after my stay there. She worked as a teachers aid and would help out during lunch. While I was in middle school she told me about a little girl who came to lunch every day with a crummy smushed sandwich and nothing else to eat. Her brother on the other hand would get a more acceptable lunch. She said that the first few times they noticed it they would offer milk and fruit to her but the brother would just take it away from her so they had to start waiting for him to finish his own lunch and go outside for recess before they could feed her.

I don’t know what happened with her after that though, but I felt so much anger at that snot nosed brat. What the f— was wrong with that family that even the brother was putting down that little girl?

  1. A Racist In Prison, Shocking.

Had a high school student who was a well-known white supremacist wear a bulletproof vest to school one day. Quietly called administration to come take him from class. His father complained “Where in the dress code does it say he can’t wear a bulletproof vest?” That was a big red flag. Later that year kid was expelled for extorting money from other kids by threatening them with a screwdriver. A year later that student got shot in the face and lost his entire nose, and he’s now in prison.

  1. Work That Never Stops.

I worked in a school for seriously emotionally disturbed children as an intern so this is from the red flag already noticed department:

-8 year old with his own giant bodyguard who followed him around to protect other children from him. He was dangerous.

-7 year old who had never spoken one word due to abuse.

-8 year old with one leg shorter than the other due to mother breaking it when he was an infant and no medical attention.

-7 year old who constantly tried to molest other kids because that was the only love he’d known.

That was my entire classroom. These kids broke my heart every day that they persevered and kept trying to learn and yet had no real future ahead of them (yes there are miracles but these kids wouldn’t see to many of those). Worst mistake I ever made was deciding to pursue my original career rather than go into SED teaching.

Very, very rewarding work.

  1. Breaks Everyone’s Heart

I work in an inner-city school in an under-resourced neighborhood. There are so many red flags every week, I couldn’t count them all. One little boy stands out to me though. I greet the kids as they come into school every morning, and one day I noticed a man and a child walking across the lawn to our door slowly, the man getting in the child’s face a few times. Finally they reach the door, and the man practically hands his son to me, saying “can you make sure he gets to his classroom?

He just tried running away from me a minute ago.” I was speechless, but I took the kid, who was quietly tearful, and brought him into the building. I was trying to ask him who’s class he was in so I could take him to his room, but he wouldn’t talk to me. Finally he said “I don’t want to go home ever again” just as I was getting him through the door, and another teacher stepped in and swept him away, telling him “we haven’t seen you in weeks!

Don’t cry, we don’t do that here!” I know she meant well, but I could tell that it had taken a lot for that kid to say what he did, and I didn’t know if he would share that with anyone else. I told the school social worker and can only hope that he’s being taken care of now. That boy broke my heart.

  1. Some Parents Don’t Know How To Do It Right

I’m a technology teacher (design and make). I had an 11 year old student who was terrible at using scissors and couldn’t thread a needle. She had very high grades academically but something didn’t seem quite right.

I recommended she receive special assistance and a referral, and it turns out after testing that she had very little spatial awareness and almost no hand-eye coordination. After calling the parents in we found that her mother was paralyzed and in a wheelchair (only dad had come to parent interviews etc), and dad was very busy working to support them both, so no one had ever played any physical games or activities with her.

She hadn’t developed in this area, and was intelligent enough to hide these short comings in previous school activities.

Not a difficult fix (lots of time doing crafts, throwing and catching balls, that kind of thing needed), but something that could have really held her back in the future.

  1. The Horror

After music class, one of my students lingered after everyone left and told me he was “afraid to go home.”

I asked him why, and he quickly lifted his shirt and showed me welts, lacerations and black & blue marks where he had been abused.

He begged me not to tell anyone, because it would only make it worse. But said he wanted me to know because I was “like the father he wished he had.”

I convinced him that he should let me connect him with professionals on staff who could offer the type of help and counsel he desperately needed.

  1. The Pressure On Teens Can Be Too Great

You know when a young person learns how to curse, they don’t inflect the sentence correctly and it just sounds wrong? “Wtf?” becomes “what THE f—?”… just sounds weird.

About 3 months ago, We were just having a conversation about his college application and he just said, “yeah, well if I don’t get into MIT I guess I’ll just kill myself.” It’s didn’t sound like a joke It just sounded wrong.

Like he inflected it incorrectly. It threw me off. I scolded him, “hey dude, easy. Don’t joke about that stuff.”

This passed Tuesday he committed suicide. We loved that kid. He was an adult in a 17 year old’s body. I’ll never forgive myself for not seeing that.

  1. Joking? About This? Not Funny!

Teaching a kid right now that one of my colleagues jokingly said about “if anyone is going to shoot up our school, it’s that kid”. He is rather quiet, looks a little off, and can be out of tune with his social skills. He was tested to have a high IQ but never really shows it, doesn’t like anything with more challenge.

In short, something in him raises red flags. He is not angry, sad, evil, nothing like that, it is more as if there is a small black hole in your classroom that sucks up any connection, attention, looks you throw its way.

Hope these red flags turn out to be nothing more than a general uneasy feeling.


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