As much as teachers want to encourage their students and support them as fully as they can, sometimes the red flags are just way way too obvious and it becomes clear...this kid ain't goin' places in life. They're just too dumb or inept on a basic level to ever amount to anything. That's a sad thought, that a kid's potential could be so clearly limited so early on, but it's just an unfortunate reality in life. Some kids are Lisa Simpson, and other kids are Ralph Wiggum. And maybe they WILL end up surprising the teacher and doing great things, but most of the time....not.
On the one hand, this r/AskReddit thread - recounting teachers and students remembering their own "Ralph Wiggum"s - is a bit of a bummer, but on the other hand, no matter how weird or inept or dumb people may seem, we now know they could go on to become President.
As a getting to know you activity I asked students "If you could be anyone in history, who would you be and why?"
One student's answer: "Eleanor Roosevelt, because I've always wanted to be black."
Had a student that would do stunts like the guys in Jackass, often on a dare. Came in and asked to stand for class. I asked why. Proudly told me that he had "hot dogged" a cactus at a party over the weekend and how it hurt too much to sit. It took me a minute to figure out what this potential Mensa member did, but once it clicked I let him stand in the back.
I assigned students to do a group presentation of a story from mythology at the end of the school year. I told them they could choose Greek/Roman, Egyptian, Norse, or any other system they chose.
Two students chose a story from Norse mythology about Thor. They presented the story, which included characters like Loki, Captain America, Iron Man, etc., completely seriously. I spoke to them at the end of class and they had NO clue that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was not a part of Norse mythology.
In the last few weeks before the AP exam I give my classes a series of practice tests (written by College Board) to take in class under a time constraint to give them practice. One student, lets call him Bill, always tried to cheat in my class. I had gotten sick of putting in the effort to catch him, and it didn't matter because the entire point of the class was to prepare for the AP Exam.
Bill started off each test by staring at the page and answering one or two questions. Then, as always, he asked to go to the bathroom during the test. I let him go and he took his phone (of course). He returns and frantically bubbles in the rest of the test and turns it in early. I have to hand it to him, Bill was great at memorizing letters for the answers of the practice tests, but he failed the AP Exam.
Blatant and obvious low-effort plagiarism. Like, it's literally the first Google result if you search "topic: example essay" but they added their name, in a different font and size, which should make it obvious at a glance as if the use of capitalization and punctuation wasn't a dead give-away that they didn't write it. I had a student pull that last year, while his even dumber buddy didn't even put his name in it. In fact it wasn't even an essay, it was a selection of question prompts. Basically two Kevins in one class.
I also had a kid at the very end of the day continually fuck around with his skateboard and became very hostile when I insisted on holding it until the last bell. He ran out the door, jumped on it and promptly fell and broke his jaw. His parents then threatened to sue the school because he got hurt there doing something he wasn't supposed to be doing.
This isn't really the kid's fault, more the parents, but my sister teaches in Hong Kong, generally 3-4 year olds.
And she had this one kid, called Enzo if I remember right, kept acting out, completely ignoring my sister & her TA when they spoke to him, and doing badly in the class work they're given. He also didn't speak, like, at all, tended to play by himself.
So my sister called in his parents in to discuss it, voiced her concerns that there might be behavioural problems, maybe something deeper seated.
His parents then confided in her that it's probably not that, more that the kid didn't speak a lick of English or Cantonese, I.E, the two languages used in the school, and most of Hong Kong.
They were both relatively affluent Italians, so they'd raised the kid speaking Italian, and lied that he spoke English fluently so he could get admitted into the school, as it was a requirement that they have a basic understanding (IIRC.)
My sister raised her concerns with the Principal after she had the meeting, and they responded to just moving the kid to another class. She said she still sees him sitting alone during lunch breaks.
I really feel for the kid though, he's only young, and he's pretty much been alienated, and won't learn properly because his parents are so dead-set on shoving him into the most expensive school, assuming he'll learn well.
Not a teacher but a fellow classmate. The least intelligent member of my geography class stole my homework assignment from my bag and tried to hand it in as his own. I told the teacher after class and she looked through the pile and said don't worry. He didn't even attempt to remove my name from the paper. He basically just handed my homework in for me.
Three 3rd grade boys stole a answer book from me for their reading test which consisted of 18 multiple choice questions and 2 essay questions. They all aced the multiple choice questions but had the exact same answers on the essay questions. "Student answers may vary".
One of the fellas in my university 1st year computer programming class stared at the wall, at the same spot. The whole class, Every class.
He'd walk in on time, sit down, open his folder, and stare at the wall, and didn't ever take a note that I saw. At the end of the wall-staring duration of the class, he'd close his likely-still-blank folder, get up, and leave without a word.
I see him from time to time at the grocery store collecting up the carts. I feel a little bad for whoever funded his education, but am pleased that he has a steady job.
Not a teacher but a fellow student.
A guy in my class was asked by the german teacher what kind of music he listens to. Trying to make a good impression, he said he liked classical music. The teacher asked him to name his favourite composer. He answered "Piano".