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Top 10 Worst Mistakes Ever Made by Teachers

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Rémi Dufresne, translated by Katia Vaccaro.

There are common teaching mistakes and bad things teachers do to students. But then there are these examples of bad teaching: whether the teacher is locking a special needs student in a closet for writing too slowly, making racist remarks about some of the children to the group or giving a 15-year-old a lap dance, these are just some of the worst teachers ever. WatchMojo counts down ten of the dumbest decisions teachers have ever made.

Special thanks to our users ShadowGirl7 and Ariana Shallman for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Worst%20Teachers%20of%20All%20Time


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Script written by Rémi Dufresne, translated by Katia Vaccaro.

Top 10 Worst Mistakes Ever Made by Teachers

Whether it’s ‘cause they abuse their power or simply out of pure stupidity, some teachers should be sent back to school. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 worst mistakes made by teachers.

For this list, we’re looking at serious lapses in judgment on the part of educators. We’re ranking our list based on the severity of the mistakes and the magnitude of the consequences. However, we will not be including any teachers who decided to sleep with their students – that’s a whole other level of mistake.

#10: Would You Like Fries with That?

There’s nothing wrong with a teacher guiding troubled students with their career choices; but have a little tact while doing it. Well, the teacher – or teachers – in this scenario definitely did not have tact: they just stapled a McDonald’s job application to their students’ failed tests or assignments and called it a day. There are actually multiple versions of this story online, so we have to assume it’s a common practice for fed-up profs to encourage failing students towards the food service industry… something that’s more than a little insulting to fast-food employees. However, if it encouraged even one student to try harder, hey, maybe it’s not all bad.

#9: The Sweet Smell of Racism

Well, this just stinks… There are certainly enough bullies in school to go around; we don’t need the teachers getting in on the act too. At an elementary school in Swansea, Wales, schoolteacher Elizabeth Davies was in a charge of a group that included a large number of Bangladeshi students. Claiming the kids constantly smelled of curry, Ms. Davies made a habit of spraying them with air freshener. Her teaching assistant said she suspected Ms. Davies was guilty of racism, and would often smugly say that “there [was] a waft coming in from paradise.” As a result, she was summarily sacked.

#8: Our Lips Are Sealed

Silence is golden, but this is ridiculous. One exasperated Florida teacher took this to the extreme, however, when she taped a disruptive student’s mouth shut. And when the poor girl had to remove the tape to cough, the teacher’s didn’t miss a beat; she simply put the tape back and muttered, “What happens in my classroom, stays in my classroom.” Or, in this case, on the local news. Unfortunately, this isn’t even the only “teacher taping a student’s mouth shut” story circulating online, but let’s be clear: this will only result in a sticky situation for the offending educators.

#7: Dirty Dancing

This student from Stovall Middle School in Houston, Texas will likely remember his 15th birthday forever. That’s when his 42-year-old teacher decided it would be a good idea to give him a four-minute, full-contact lap dance in front of the entire class. And, by all accounts, it was a pretty daring dance: there was grinding, ass slaps… She even got on her knees and put her head in between his legs. But the cherry on the sundae? She capped off the whole performance with the words “I love you baby, happy birthday.” Miss Felicia Smith was subsequently arrested for an improper relationship with a student, and was sentenced to three-years probation.

#6: I’m Rubber, You’re Glue

Exasperated that one of her students would not focus on his work and kept calling her rude names, art teacher Lynda May reached the end of her rope. According to the court transcripts – yes, this went all the way to court – the student banged a glue stick loudly on a desk. To give the student a taste of his own medicine, Ms. May took the glue stick and did the same thing right back – except, she accidentally hit him in the hand, drawing blood. She was ultimately acquitted of the assault charges, but even so we assume she still wishes she had “glued” him to his chair in detention instead.

#5: Risqué Writing

We get it: getting a kid to read is like pulling teeth. Well, a UK teacher known to her students as Miss Rusty solved that little problem: to encourage her troubled class to develop an interest in literacy, she wrote an erotic novel. Well, actually, it was worse than that: the characters were modeled after her and her students, and they also engaged in drug use and criminal activity. Ultimately released online, the novel entitled “Stop! Don’t Read This,” caused a big kerfuffle, leading to the termination of Miss Rusty’s employment. But she did get her 15 minutes of fame.

#4: Trapped in the Closet

What’s an appropriate punishment for children at school: time out? Detention? Lock ‘em in a closet? Uh, no, definitely not that last one. Well, one teacher at a Manchester, England school thought that was a good idea. Unfortunately, one of the students she kept in the storage cupboard was an 11-year-old with dyspraxia, a developmental coordination disorder that can affect motor skills, speech and more, making learning difficult. The teacher decided he wasn’t writing fast enough, so she sent him off to the closet. In fact, the poor boy told his mother that he’d been locked in the closet alone for at least an hour at a time before.

#3: Sex Ed, Up Close & Personal

To celebrate the arrival of summer, and to commemorate their time in the fifth grade, California elementary school teacher Crystal Defanti put together a DVD, compiling the best moments of the school year. Unfortunately, she sent them home with both a memento and a crash course in sex ed: yes, she accidentally included one of her own, very personal videos on the DVD. When families innocently sat down and selected one of the options on the menu screen, they were taken to a shot of Ms. Defanti naked and pleasuring herself on a couch. We’re sure it was an honest – albeit really stupid – mistake, but it still prompted plenty of birds and bees talks!

#2: A Tone-Deaf Punishment

One of the great things about technology is that it can allow some students to overcome disabilities. For example, hearing aids let deaf students hear just like their fellow students. However, in a reddit thread that answered the question “Who was the worst teacher you’ve ever had?,” one deaf student recounted the story of how his sadistic teacher used his hearing aids against him. In order to punish the child in question, Mrs. Baron would frequently remove his two hearing aids to isolate him from the others. She’d then force him to go sit in the hallway by himself!

Before revealing our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:
- Two Teachers, One Chair
Lap Dance Routine at a Spirit Rally Goes Too Far, Then Goes Viral

- How the Sub Stole Christmas!
A Grinchy Substitute Teacher Told Students There’s No Santa Claus

- Don’t Punish Over Spilled Water
Students Sentenced to Eat Lunch Off the Floor for 10 Days for Spilling Water

#1: A Secret Sauce We Could Do Without

This story is not for the faint of heart. Mark Berndt, an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles for more than 30 years, frequently organized food tastings in his classroom. He would blindfold the children and make them eat cookies that he’d prepared. What those unsuspecting students didn’t know, however, was that those cookies had a secret ingredient: Mr. Berndt’s sperm. Berndt was caught by police in 2012 after he tried to develop pictures of these infamous “food tastings,” and the photo technician thought pictures of blindfolded third graders were a bit strange. The teacher was then sentenced to 25 years in prison, and the students he victimized were awarded a $140 million settlement.

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