A high school teacher’s relationship to their students is significant. It’s also quite complex.
As an educator to students in their adolescent years, a good teacher has to all kinds of attributes. Ideally, they’re passionate about the subject they teach and compel students to be at least somewhat engaged in that same topic.
To that end, it helps to be fun and relatable.
But a good teacher also has to maintain a professional atmosphere. Besides educating young minds, they’re tasked with cultivating a safe, comfortable environment for them too.
Apparently, that balancing act–being exciting and relatable while also being the adult in the room–comes easier to some than others.
A recent Reddit post offered a teenage student’s side of that story. Throwralibtet, as she’s known on the site, outlined a recent situation with her teacher on the “Relationship Advice” subReddit.
Her title to the post said it all.
“My ([17 year-old female]) history teacher is always inviting me to his house to see his model trains.”
“I don’t know if he’s trying to be nice or is really creepy.”
“I don’t know what to do about it. My mom says just ignore it and it will go away.”
The Original Poster (OP) began by offering some context for her relationship to the teacher in question.
“I’m just sort of weirded out by this whole thing I guess.”
“About Two years ago I had the same history teacher I have now. We took a field trip to a museum having to do with trains and I actually thought it was really neat so I asked a lot of questions and took a ton of pics.”
“This was towards the end of the year and my teacher told me that he was very impressed that I paid such close attention as he loved trains as well.”
So far so good, but then an offer was made.
“He said that he had a huge model train collection and if I wanted to come see it over the summer I should email him.”
“I didn’t think much of it but was gone all summer so it never came up.”
The new school year initiated Act 2 of her ordeal.
“Well this year he’s my history teacher again. When the schedule came out he emailed me like minutes later saying that he remembered how much I loved trains and the invite was still open.”
“I didn’t respond to the email. We were zoom only for the first few months but I guess a month ago we are in modified where we go two days a week.”
In-person instruction brought further negotiations.
“Every single class he tells me the invitation is open for me to come see his trains. I tell him thank you and maybe I will but my mom is really strict with Corona contact (true).”
“He tells me that he can talk to my mom since he knows I love trains so much. I again tell him thank you and politely walk away.”
OP eventually needed someone to turn to.
“I told my mom about it and she says that I should just ignore it and he’s probably is just offering a nice invitation over a shared interest (honesty, I haven’t thought about trains until he brought it up again).”
“I asked my mom if maybe I should talk to the counselor about it and she said no because it’s just an invitation to his house to see his hobby. This being taken the wrong way could ruin his life.”
After mom, she turned to the next best thing: supportive (hopefully) strangers on the internet.
“No matter what I don’t like the invitations and they make me feel weird, especially since he brought this up after almost a year and half.”
“Since I don’t think my mom is being very helpful, what can I do about this?”
“Just as FYI I don’t have a dad and my grandpa And uncles lives in another state.”
Many Redditors responded by affirming her sense that this was indeed creepy.
“I don’t see how this can be taken any other way but the wrong way. Uhm there’s no reason a teacher should ever be so persistent in inviting a student to their house.”
“This is creepy.” — mezlabor
“Nope nope nope! Creep alert 🚨” — CeeBee29
“He a creep. Period.” — PL_music
“He clearly is a creep. He shouldn’t invite any student to his house especially an underage female. The fact that he reminds you over and over is not only weird but totally inexcusable.”
“I doubt he wants to show you his trains. He wants to show you something else.” — Sriso203
Some offered advice for slamming the door on him.
“No teacher should ever invite you to their home, offer to drive you anywhere or to be alone with you.”
“Teachers should work VERY hard to avoid the appearance of impropriety.”
“If he emails you or asks you again, tell him, ‘No thank you, I don’t think it’s a good idea.’” — Ruthless_Bunny
“Stop saying ‘thank you’ and ‘maybe’ to him. Next time he asks you, say nicely but directly, ‘I appreciate the invite, but it is inappropriate. I will not be coming over.’” — Gryffindor85
“Either he’s a creeper or he’s on the spectrum (or maybe both).”
“But you need to stop with the maybes. Tell him you’re not really interested in his model trains, you were only being polite before, but now please stop asking.” — WavesnMountains
“’Ignore it and it will go away’” NEVER works with this. You need to speak up.”
“Tell him that he’s making you uncomfortable. If he continues, or starts to treat you differently than other students, tell administration.” — Develyna
Others advocated for an even more severe response to him.
“Teacher here: report it now. Unprofessional and inappropriate and a likely sign of grooming.” — chuckiestealady
“Teachers KNOW that it’s inappropriate to invite a student over in this day and age.”
“Whether or not he’s actually being friendly about it, with no bad intentions, he knows better than to invite a student over to their house, which is why I 100% think he has bad intentions.”
“Please report this to either the principal or the school’s counselor.” — zeeonesixty
“You should take those emails to the front office. Let them deal with it. Don’t say anything to him.”
“And definitely do NOT go over there.” — pearljamismyjam
While we cannot unequivocally know or state exactly what his intentions were—if they were malicious or innocent—hopefully this stands as an example of how the internet provided a feeling of safety and well-being for a person who needed it.