Student ‘horror stories’ help teachers learn how to react in high-stake situations


Vincent Llanes

Physics teacher Drew Sobczak may face obstacles with his students.

Frightening events here at DGS do not pertain to just Halloween. Many DGS teachers have dealt with difficult situations which demanded quick-thinking and intuition. These spooky situations are best described by teachers with one term — a teacher horror story.

From fights to straight-up defiance, these horror stories have put many teachers in critical positions. While these issues present themselves as major obstacles for teachers they are not entirely a negative experience. These stories often act as a learning opportunity for themselves and can teach faculty to respond more effectively to these situations.

Social Studies teacher Laura Rodey keenly remembers having to deal with a student who directly denied one of her requests.

“I had this student who was missing work, on her phone [and] she [was] just really struggling in a bunch of different ways. I go up to her and I say ‘hey you know why don’t we step out in the hall for a second and we can kind of touch base and see where you are at and see how I can help you,’ and she just looks up at me and says ‘no,’” Rodey said.

Furthermore, Rodey once dealt with two friends who quickly became enemies within the span of a single class period. Rodey highlights the closeness of their relationship before the fight and the sudden redevelopment of this friendship afterwards.

“These were both at DGS, I would say about four, or five years ago. I was teaching law and these two kids who have never had a problem before … I look up and they are wrestling on the ground, ” Rodey said.

Despite these experiences, Rodey was able to further her ability to better handle these situations.

“The first thing I learned is that it is not always about me. There are things going on in student’s lives and it’s not always an issue with me or my class,” Rodey said.

Science teacher Sean Senf is also fairly well experienced with troubling events.

“We had this project and the project involved a presentation and in that presentation a certain group of students were presenting. At the end of that presentation they had an inappropriate picture… They started laughing [then] the whole class started laughing, but it was just over the line,” Senf said.

In spite of his circumstances Senf saw a silver lining in the experience.

“It is important as a teacher and a coach that anytime you are working with a lot of people to establish routines, establish boundaries [and] establish guidelines early,” Senf said.

The notion of a teacher horror story extends beyond just teachers themselves. Students are also familiar with teachers who have faced difficulties obstacles. Students are also quite familiar with the concept of teachers learning from such mistakes, such as senior Javier Felipe.

“I had a teacher who had a hard time with a student with very bad behavior,” Felipe said.

Felipe was able to recognize the teacher’s ability to adapt in spite of this horror story.

“After a difficult year the teacher learned that kindness tends to be the most effective tool in obtaining a student’s interest. It was really heartwarming to see,” Felipe said.

These situations may present themselves as massive hurdles for teachers to overcome. School environments are often unpredictable and demand the ability to improvise. These horror stories have proven to test the mettle of teachers.

Teachers will continue to prove their adaptability, and while some may consider these horror stories to be setbacks, teachers often view them as essential moments for growth.

“Sometimes it’s better not to get into a kid’s face when they are obviously not in a place to talk,” Rodey said.