Before TED Talks, there were teachers with their pep talks. A good teacher tries to set students up for success in academics and sometimes other parts of life.
Reddit user u/absolutejuice22 asked the r/AskReddit community "What is something a high school teacher told you, that you will never forget?" People started sharing their stories of the phrases teachers said that made them believe in themselves, in the possibility of happiness, learn how to study effectively, and sometimes how to be mischievous without getting caught.
BoredPanda selected some of the most interesting answers. Feel free to add your own in the comments and share if you were able to give/get a personal pep talk in the Zoom lesson days.
More info: Reddit
#1Called me out of English my senior year to chat in the hall just to "check on me and how I was doing."
I had planned to head to the girls room after that class with a purse full of pills to kill myself.
That one act of "being seen" changed the entire direction of my life.
I'm in my 40s now and run a nonprofit that works with our school to provide food, clothes, school supplies, Christmas gifts, prom dresses, testing fees... Pretty much anything a student might lack that takes their focus off being the best them they can be? We work to meet it.
I have four teens and a dozen more of their friends who view our house as their second home and safe space when things are rough at home.
Mr. Williams, you were an angel and your impact has touched hundreds of kids because you showed me the value of helping kids know they matter. ❤️
Image credits: FruityOatyThrace
#2Class camp, we're out walking a trail to the next campsite, carrying our lives in our packs. I was not in great physical shape and was well back in the rear. So it's basically just me and one teacher to make sure no one fell too far back.
We came to a part where a branch had fallen across the trail. Big enough to be an effort to move it but not so large that it couldn't have been moved by any of the thirty+ other students and teachers that had already walked around it.
Without even thinking about it, I grabbed the branch and tossed it to the side of the path.
The teacher said to me: "Thirty boys walked past that branch. It took one man to move it, and he made life easier for every person after him."
It became a personal motto, of sorts: "Make it easier for the people who come after you." Although when you do a good job, the person who comes after you is usually also you.
Image credits: Gambatte
#3My music teacher used to tell me that before you could break the rules, you had to understand them.
Image credits: BoneWitchNun
#42005 a teacher said intelligence of the future will not be defined by how well you know one skill but instead how well you can find information and decipher what information is good and bad.
Image credits: kwakaaa
#5I'm a lesbian, and in my high-school ROTC class, I accidentally came out to everyone during class (long story). It was really awkward, and at the end of class, our drill sergeant teacher asked me to stay for a moment.
I stayed, and I was like 2 seconds away from bursting into tears (thought he was going to say that I was oversharing, or being inappropriate, etc), only to have this teacher tell me "What you said today was really brave. If anyone gives you any sh*t for it, come tell me and I'll take care of it."
This guy was a real hard-ass, so for someone like him to support me? It meant the world to me. ?
Image credits: Sleepy_Oasis
#6I had an English teacher my freshman year of highschool who was one of the RARE adults that treated all of his students with respect while at the same time challenging us to do better.
I distinctly remember him telling our class
You are not as mature as you think you are, but you are more mature than your parents give you credit for
He also told us about an agreement/rule he had with his own kids. He understood how hard it was for kids to do the right thing in the face of peer pressure. So he had told his kids that if they were ever in a situation (underage drinking, drugs, whatever) where they knew they shouldn't be, they could call and using an previously agreed upon codeword that was banal and unsuspicious, he would know he needed to go get them and be 'the bad guy'. He would show up, "Uncle Buck" style and get them out of wherever they were. This would allow them to save face with their friends and there would be no consequences for being the situation in the first place.
Image credits: Ukiah
#7On 9/11, while classes were all but canceled, most teachers just rolled in tv's and left the news on. Not Jim R. He got up and lectured, to the groans of students. He talked about the effects this would have on the economy, our politics, our culture and society. And he was right. In somewhat broad strokes, of course. But this was literally hours after the towers collapsed. When so much was still unknown, frightening and tragic. It really gave me what I would consider a solid base of understanding the things that would come in the next decade.
He talked about how traveling would change with restrictive security measures, how politics would take advantage of 'terrorism', how the wars we will engage will be paid for by my generation, my kids generation and so on. He talked about how racism will spike toward middle eastern peoples out of anger and fear and how that is totally wrong. As a vet and former cop, he cautioned us to not join the military while emotions ran high and a sense of patriotism was thick in our veins.
It was a gift. As the years went on, wmd's, the iraq war, tsa, department of homeland security all came about, I felt like I already knew. I will never forget that fourth period class.
Image credits: totes-muh-gotes
#8My partner had a high school teacher that would walk through the busy hallways at school shouting “HOT COFFEE, HOT COFFEE” while holding an empty mug. He just wanted people to get out of his way and it always worked.
Image credits: Dodney_Rangerfield
#9A teacher of mine said he would write me a letter of recommendation, but it had been a week or so and he hadn't gotten back to me yet. I went in a 3rd time to remind him and I started off with an apology, to which he corrected me, saying "don't ever stop advocating for yourself"
It's advice I haven't forgotten since.
Image credits: User avatar level 1 Ded_Wait
#10Coming up to our final year 12 exams, my maths teacher handed out an article on the most common things people said on their deathbed. She said no one wished they had worked longer hours; that they had spent more time at work than with their loved ones. If we didn’t get the grades we wanted, that’s okay, because there’ll be a back doors to where we wanted to go. Failure is okay. It’s only a minor setback. What’s important is having a good balance between work/studies, family/friends and our own hobbies/interest.
Image credits: Shiny_and_dense
#11"Leave your verbal guns at the door."
This was the HS football coach's first words teaching sex ed at my high school. He used the metaphor of the old American west where cowboys would leave their guns at the door when they entered a saloon to drink so nobody would get killed in a drunken outburst. He said we'd talk about a lot of topics that might make us feel uncomfortable and tempted to make a joke at someone else's expense to break the tension. He asked us to leave our 'verbal guns' at the door so everyone could feel comfortable asking honest questions.
This was back in the late eighties. He was way ahead of his time.
Image credits: HumangusGrasshoopers
#12Pay attention to what you pay attention to.
Image credits: ModerateExtremism
#13In my childhood only one person ever tackled my mother about her abuse of me and my siblings. It was parents day and my b**ch of a mother, as usual, turned up to take the credit for my being top of the class again. At one point there was just me, my **** b**ch of a mother, and Mrs. Soames (physics teacher) in the lab. Mrs Soames quite calmly challenged her, saying "Mrs xxxxx, why do you treat [Tomsdottir] the way you do? She's a good girl and doesn't deserve it."
To my astonishment, my evil b**ch of a mother was speechless. No-one had ever confronted her before and she just didn't know where to put herself.
It was easy for the other teachers and pupils to make snide, patronising remarks about this cow to me. A 13 year old girl isn't in a position to do anything about it, and I'm guessing they were trying to ease their consciences about the fact that they were too cowardly to intervene.
But Mrs Soames has been a role model for me ever since, and an unforgettable example of those people brave enough to tackle a bully in the presence of their victim. To have someone stand by you when you are vulnerable, and make their support for you clear - I can't tell you how that changed my view of other people.
Image credits: TOMSDOTTIR
#14I was having a particularly bad year in high school emotionally and my grades were starting to reflect it, so my dad went in for parent-teacher conference day. When he got to my orchestra director, he bluntly told my dad that I was brilliant. When my dad just kind of shrugged it off, like okay yeah he's a smart kid I guess, the director looked him in the eye and said, "No, you don't understand," and proceeded to lecture to him about me.
I heard this secondhand from my dad and then talked to my director about it afterwards. His words and his faith in me have stuck with me all my life. I'm now finishing up a PhD in mathematical physics.
Image credits: level 1 HardlyBigwood
#15My freshman year history teacher told us first day of school about how he went to college with Bill Gates. Said he was one of the people that Bill asked to invest in his start up. He had declined.
“And here I am…teaching history class to high schoolers”
Image credits: RomanovRyddle
#16Whenever my teacher said anything controversial that he didn’t want repeated, he would preface it with ‘Don’t quote me on this because I’ll just deny it.’ I still use that.
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#17If you're ever living in poverty a block of cheese and a loaf of bread can feed you for days.
Image credits: MuddyBootsJohnson
#18My chemistry teacher told my mom that I would do so much better if I asked questions. I’ve found that this is true in all stages of life. Ask questions!
Image credits: Weaselywannabe
#19That I wasn't stupid, just lazy. Changed my life.
Image credits: myfriendrichard
#20When I was a freshman in high school, my biology teacher was talking about extinction and plagues and stuff. So I ask him like why haven’t we had another plague and he said that as a species we were remarkably over due for a plaque as the last one was 100 years ago. This was in 2016 and for the rest of high school I would repeat this fact and tell everyone not to be shocked when it happened. My senior year I was right
Image credits: mansbestwalrus
#21One of the coolest, more laid back teachers I had was straight up like “If you try to snitch on me, I control your grades”.
Image credits: thatredditrando
#22My high school biology teacher, on the end of every quiz or exam, would put a giveaway point question. The question was always the same: Science is: A- Exciting, B- Interesting, C- A Challenge, D- All of the above. No matter which you marked you got the point. However, since this was on every exam, the saying was sand blasted into my long term memory. This led to me always somehow muttering this whenever I was taking an exam in University (substituting the word science with whatever necessary). Then it led to me muttering it whenever I was dealing with something stressful. Now it has become a fall back whenever I run into a life roadblock and everything is simply designated A- Exciting, B- Interesting, C- A Challenge, D- All of the above. It's simple but it helps keep me from being too negative.
Image credits: Adastria
#23Our high school chemistry teacher said:
"Remember - a warm test tube or Bunsen burner are no substitutes for a satisfying relationship."
Image credits: Back2Bach
#24My highschool baseball coach / Sociology teacher always used to say 'Those who are prepared create their own luck' before exams.
This is a true life lesson.
Image credits: TheDeadMonument
#25Reminds me of when one of my favorite teachers was retiring. I tracked him down and tried, with poor results, to tell him I'd miss him. He understood my bumbling speech enough. He gave me a big hug, took me by the shoulders, looked me right in the eye and said with a stern but kindly tone "you keep doing good, okay?" I sure hope I've lived up to my promise to him.
Image credits: Drakmanka
#26My music teacher when I spent a large length of time skipping school due to various reasons. She had phoned me after spending hours tracking a way to contact me because she was worried.
"I'm not phoning to tell you off, i'm phoning to make sure you're okay. You don't have to go to the classes you don't like, your exam is on wed and im phoning to let you know, no matter what I know that you'd still be practicing because youre a bright student and I know you'll go far no matter what you choose to do"
Image credits: grimdeath999
#27Knowing what you are doing wrong, is a very difficult trait to learn. Even grown up adults don't know themselves
Image credits: DCM_007
#28Struggled with dyslexia and a learning disability my whole life. English class was hell for me every year. Senior year my lit teacher read some short story that was required of me and said, "What the f**k are you doing here. You are starting in my AP Lit class starting tomorrow." I passed the AP test and my entire life really began because he believed in me. I'm now a high school teacher, and while not as great as him, really think I'm doing good work.
Image credits: Sarnick18
#29Not as inspiring as the others but I always found it funny how my teacher would say "90 degrees" instead of "sit up straight".
Image credits: Monkey_theKinkyMonk
#30My favorite math teacher had a philosophy about us understanding how to get to formulas instead of memorizing them. Basically if we memorized them we were gonna remember them wrong and would never be the wiser because we thought we remembered it.
Image credits: rabbitpiet
#31Ha! My husband had a similar thing happen. In 2nd grade his class watched a bill nye like video on the planets and it said that Venus was the hottest planet because greenhouse gas. Then in the lesson immediately after the teacher tries to say that mercury is the hottest because it's closest to the sun. My husband got sent to the principals office for arguing with the teacher.
#32"We're all trying to figure it out, at any age. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. "
Image credits: Mandrake_m2
#33My English teacher in grade 6 put “A” and “LOT”on 2 separate pieces of paper and taped them to opposite walls on the classroom. Then she got a student to run from “A” to “LOT” while yelling with them “AAAAAAAAA” * gets to other side* “LOOOOOOOTTTT” to teach us that they were separate and that ‘alot’ is incorrect. I have never forgotten and can still picture it as if it were yesterday ? it’s been 12 years
Image credits: megbee17
#34In 1974 I was told/taught that the planet Mercury had a tidally-locked orbit around the sun. That one side of the planet faced the sun all the time.
It's not true.
Mercury's true orbit and rotational periods were worked out in 1965.
#35I got kicked out of class for not putting my backpack in the hallway… Told my gym teacher (who was teaching us that day) I needed it beside me in case I had to grab something. Didn’t agree with me and called up two teachers to pull me out of class. So I’m in the hall, bored asf, when this new teacher pulls up (she kinda hot, but annoying at the time). We get into an argument and I ask her why she doesn’t just listen to me even if I’m right. Told me she doesn’t give a s**t and I had to come to her office. Fast forward end of the day, I had detention and had a talk with the new teacher and my gym teacher. I told them they should handle that s**t like grown ups and not call some teachers on me. Were absolutely in shock by what I said and told me I wasn’t worth nothing, never gonna amount to nothing, and I should shut up cuz I ‘just got my first pubes’ . Walked out of there with the biggest smile on my face ready to tell everyone about this.
#36Was in the 90s, my political thought teacher “Never document your deviance”
Image credits: Jdoogs27
#37"The man who invented the diamond. Alright I got your attention now. H. Tracy Hall - write this name down. Dr. Hall invented the first reproducible process for making synthetic diamonds. I mean, this is way back in the 50's. Now today, synthetic diamonds are used in oil drilling, electronics, multi-billion dollar industries. Now at the time, Dr. Hall worked for General Electric and he made them a fortune. I mean, incalculable. You want to know how GE rewarded Dr. Hall? A $10 U.S. savings bond"
#38"If you want to hurt a man, I mean REALLY hurt a man, you don't hit him in the crotch. You hit him in the wallet." -My 11th grade Social Studies teacher
Image credits: oheffme