There are a few perks to being a teacher, but if you’re a good one and you actually like kids, I have to think that one if them is uncovering true gems of talent in your student.
And after reading these 14 plot twists, there’s no way these teachers could deny that’s exactly what they’d encountered.
14. One obsession to another.
I had a student who was obsessed with Silverback Gorillas. I mean, EVERYTHING he wrote was about silverbacks.
Even for the most random question, for example, about Shakespeare’s sonnets, and his answer would somehow quite logically twist around to his gorillas.
After a while he added a character – the Queen of Sanzibar. She controlled this wild and often violent band of gorillas.
At the end of that year, I ended up moving away and at my farewell lunch he gave me a card which says “there will never be another story about the Silverback Gorillas of Sanzibar because the Queen of Sanzibar is moving to Australia.”
Blew me away. I never thought his stories were analogies of our school/students or that I had made that much of an impact on his life. Humbling.
13. Was it…true?
I taught an English 101 where I had a very open-ended writing assignment to gauge where the students were. It was a long time ago, but if I remember correctly it was to write about something that happened in your life that was memorable. Like I said– very vague.
One student wrote about how his friend had run away from home and asked to stay in his tree house.
Then it turned pretty dark when the student wrote that he was woken up by fire sirens only to find the tree house was completely engulfed in flames.
Of course no one realized it was occupied. That was 25 years ago and I still remember the chill I got when I read it
12. That will be worth something one day!
When my nephew was 6 or 7 or so they had to write a description of how to make a sandwich.
My nephew proceeded to write a detailed account of how to make a “ Sand Witch” which includes getting a mold of a witch and putting wet sand into it …you get the idea.
The teacher said in all her years of teaching that no kid had ever done that. She asked to keep a copy because she thought it was so funny.
11. A cry for help.
I was picking up recycled paper for my students with severe disabilities to shred using our machine.
The essay we found was about some kid that is going through abuse. I made a report and student is now doing better.
10. It comes for all of us sooner or later.
I had a second language learner who wrote about the death of a close relative.
He talked about feelings of extreme sadness, and then said, “I have come to know that this feeling is called grief.”
It was the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever read.
9. I don’t like that.
A student once wrote a story under the assigned heading of All That Glitters is not Gold.
It was a first person narration told as a comedy about a mother telling her daughter on her 21st birthday about the night she brought her home from the hospital.
The twist was that the mother was talking to herself in what was due to by the child’s bedroom, her child had actually died the night they brought her home.
This. Floored. Me.
8. That definitely took a turn.
Teaching middle school, gave an “About Me” essay early in the year. One student wrote about how they had a rough home life, parents divorcing, etc.
It was very well written and heartbreaking until the last paragraph where he talked about finding religion in the past year.
“I’ve learned not to judge people who do wrong, because only God can judge… and they will burn.”
7. You never really know.
Really kind of annoying kid.
Good person, but too much charisma and used it to goof off during class, regularly pulled 70s as a result of not paying attention. Held a poetry workshop he opted into.
Wrote a poem about his dead parents (I knew he lived with Grandma, but not why).
The last line was “I laugh so I don’t cry” Shattered my heart.
6. Girl power.
One of my kids got a writing assignment to write a new ending to a story. It was a classic star-crossed lovers narrative so I figured they’d do a happily ever after.
The female protagonist ended up using the dude for his knight status to escape the thumb of her father, then killed him and went out on her own.
5. That sounds like an Oscar winner.
One of my middle school students in Korea ended a story about his family with it raining alcohol and snowing cocaine.
Everyone freaked out and murdered one another.
4. I bet he gets a big book deal one day.
When I was a kid we had a similar prompt given to us in our English class in high school.
We were told to write a short story inspired by Romeo and Juliet with a twist.
We had to then read our story to the class the following day.
This is a summary of a story that one kid in our class wrote:
The story started with a family grieving over the loss of Juliet. A woman who had taken her own life by jumping out of a tower after learning of the death of her dear Romeo.
Then we flashback a week earlier to when the family discovers that Juilet is pregnant. She had been previously locked away in her tower since last month for seeing Romeo. A poor boy from a poor family. Juliet’s family had locked her up and had a guard standing by the door to make sure Romeo couldn’t get in to see her.
Every day that her father had come to see her, he had noticed that she was always scared and crying. The father assumed she was upset over her pregnancy. The father knew that Romeo was the one that got her pregnant, That he must have got into the tower somehow. Romeo would pay for getting his daughter pregnant and making her cry. The father assumed that Romeo was scaling the tower and entering through the window since there was a guard at the door.
The father decided to spread the news of Juliet’s pregnancy to coax Romeo out so he could catch him in the act. That night the father hid in the bushes. Sure enough, Romeo showed up. Romeo tried to speak with Juliet, but she didn’t respond to him or even come to the window. The father showed himself to Romeo and began beating him. Eventually, the father stabbed Romeo repeatedly in the stomach, killing him. This was revenge for getting his daughter pregnant.
The father came to see his daughter the next day to tell her the news of Romeo’s death. Juliet was distraught and began screaming at her father. The father grew furious that she still cared for Romeo even after he got her pregnant. The father left his daughter and slammed the door to her chambers. He told the guard that she still couldn’t leave the tower as punishment for loving Romeo and getting pregnant.
A few minutes after the father had left, the guard opened the door and came inside to speak with Juliet. She was terrified and recoiled when he came closer. She scrambled to get away from him. The guard grabbed Juliet and pulled her towards the window. Juliet cried and begged him to stop. The guard ignored her and pushed her out of the window. The only thing he said was “Sorry. I’m not ready to be a father yet.”
It turns out that the guard had been raping Juliet every night since she had been locked up in the tower last month.
The teacher and the whole class were all slack-jawed. One guy in the class just said “Holy fuck dude”. I remember the teacher asking the kid who wrote the story to step outside so she could speak privately with him.
The class immediately began whispering among themselves while we watched the two of them talk through the window. The kid looked annoyed. He clearly disagreed with what the teacher was saying. Eventually, he walked off and the teacher returned to class.
All she said was “So-and-so is going to speak with the guidance counselor”. Everyone unanimously agreed that the teacher’s decision was bullsh%t and a complete overreaction on her part. But she insisted that he must be a troubled individual to come up with a twist that dark.
I remember the next time we had that class, someone asked the kid what happened. It turns out that the guidance counselor agreed that the teacher overreacted and that writing a dark ending to a story doesn’t mean someone is a troubled individual.
3. I’d read that.
I teach high school maths, so the opportunities for stories are more limited. I set an extended assignment on mathematically evaluating what would happen in a zombie outbreak – looking at what happens to the human population based on how fast zombies can turn them, if there’s a cure, if zombies can raise the dead from graves, etc.
The last part of the assignment was to model a zombie situation of your choice, come up with some survival strategies, and show mathematically how they helped humans.
Most students picked a pop culture zombie style and used that as their inspiration. No problems. At the time, there was a big election going on, so one student decided that anyone under the sway of a particular political party must be a mindless zombie, and recreated the events of the entire election in his mathematical equations. It was a fantastic spin on it that made marking much more fun!
2. (Don’t) trust your reader.
Teaching 8th grade English: a student was writing about a supernatural investigator. 2/3 through, the narrator is lists the greatest horrors he had seen.
The list ended: “I once saw an English teacher named Mr.[my name] slough off his skin and devour a classroom of students. . .”
It was a great surprise (and story).
1. I bet she is.
I worked at a bookstore that had a spooky story contest for Halloween and I had to read a lot of stories by elementary students. They were stories by elementary students.
But there was this one.
On the first pass I guess I didn’t like it, but when it came back from another reviewer I happened to read it again. The plot wasn’t astounding. It was actually kind of a bad story as far as that goes. What was amazing was that the student changed her vernacular depending on whether the speech was spoken by a character or part of the narration. This is not elementary stuff. It was really incredible and such a small thing that I was so surprised that I even noticed it. It is literally a technique that was considered groundbreaking when Zora Neale Hurston did it and she’s one of the greatest American writers ever. There’s no way this little fourth grade girl knew about Hurston. She was just doing it naturally. I was blown away.
I tried my best to advocate for that story—even suggested a special prize. My boss would not give. I hope that little girl is still writing.
As a writer, I tip my hat.
If you’re a teacher, please use the comments to add your story to the list!