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The title speaks for itself-- what was a classroom where you felt unwelcome? College classes, elementary, middle, and high school classes, any class
Kim Site Admin

I am on the autism spectrum. There are certain things that make me absolutely unable to function. One of those is people chewing gum around me. In college, I worked up the courage to ask a professor of a small class, in a VERY small room, if he would not chew gum so that I could participate in the class. I confessed to having a disability that motivated the request, which made me uncomfortable because there was no way to disclose it privately in those close quarters.

He not only said no, he encouraged the rest of the class to mock me and passed out gum to all of them. I had to gather my things and leave. I immediately dropped the class.
Ooof... classes where the teachers were involved in making the class uncomfortable were the worst (and I guess are the worst for those still in school).

I could list every experience, but we'd be here a while. Suffice to say, I was unfortunately fairly well-known in my secondary school. For being a weirdo who everyone picked on. Some teachers included. Didn't help that I was also shy, socially awkward and had no friends in my classes (well, most of them). Anxiety + autism spectrum + no friends = difficulty with group work as well... and getting told off for not being able to find a group (and even getting marked down on effort grade for it) suuuucks.

The absolute worst experience isn't necessarily classroom related, though. It's teacher related. More specifically a teacher from my primary school who liked telling stories about my weird behaviour during my younger years. So much so that each year, new students who I had never even met before (my primary school closed down a couple of years after I left, and that teacher moved to a neighbouring school within the same catchment area) would enroll in my secondary school already knowing who I was and that I had a reputation for being weird. At that age, getting picked on by kids a handful of years younger than you is a real demoralising thing. Especially when you've no idea who they are.
This is one that requires a bit of context:

I was struggling with my mental health when I was 15. My abusive mother had just died and I'd just escaped my abusive step-dad. For the first time in 10 years I was living somewhere I wasn't abused. For the first few months I did really well, I was excited to live with someone who loved me, be at a new school - but the energy died down. Suddenly I was overwhelmed by depression, anxiety and insomnia. I got about two hours of sleep a night if I was lucky. I made it through Sophomore year, and enjoyed my summer of not having to wake up at 5am and drag myself to school.

When Junior year started, I immediately felt like I couldn't do it. Things I once understood and enjoyed were confusing and painful. I was exhausted in every way possible. Still, I was trying my best. I would pull myself out of bed, find clean clothing, walk into school, cry in the bathroom between classes, and eat lunch all alone because I didn't have the energy to approach people, but I was there, I was getting my shit done.

Until about 3 months into Junior year.

I had missed two weeks of school due to my mental health, I couldn't get out of bed. I was debating droppping out, even spoke with my dad (who I lived with) about it, and he was unhappy with the idea but wanted me to do what I needed to do. We agreed that I would give it another try, and I told myself "just one day at a time, one week at a time" and was prepared to keep pushing myself.

The very first day back after those two weeks, I walked into my Advanced English Literature class and the teacher wouldn't look at me, or talk to me. After class right before lunch, I was the last one out because I wanted to turn in some make up work I'd managed to do while I was gone.

She told me, and I quoite, "Not to be a bitch, but if you're not going to show up, there's other people who would take your seat in this class seriously."

I understand partially where she was coming from, but at the moment, that was the straw that broke the camels back.

I dropped out of high school immediately after that, didn't even go to lunch.

Her class was the last class I was ever in, she was the last teacher I ever had, and it was the most humiliating and unwelcoming experience.
For me, it was a college history class.

I got extremely sick about two weeks in and had to stay home. The professor hadn't listed a phone number on his syllabus, I had just moved and had no internet yet, and I was too sick to go to the library to use the internet there.

When I finally could get to class and tried to explain, he basically announced in front of the entire class that it didn't matter what I did, I was going to fail.


So, I left and it's the only F I ever had on my transcripts.
When I was a Senior in High School I was in my 4th year of JROTC. Our previous Senior Instructor had retired the year before and the person who replaced him was fresh retired from the Army. For context, this was a rough year personally for me, my parents were constantly fighting and threatening divorce, my home life was a mess besides that and to be honest it was a struggle to even get to school some days. About a month into the start of my senior year, we were doing Drill Practice (Fancy marching basically) and I was not focused, so I kept making mistakes. This guy, who I can't even be bothered to remember the name to, pulled me aside and basically told me I needed to leave my personal issues at the door, I was here for a mission and nothing else mattered and that if I didn't get my act together he was going to replace me (This was my fourth year on the team and I was Co-Captain). He also told me that I had no chance in the real Army etc etc. A real piece of work to be honest.

I dropped the class the next day, became a TA for the English Teacher I had as a Freshman and never gave that guy a second thought. Jokes on him though, I did end up joining the actual Army and didn't fail at it or life like he told me I would :)
Autism spectrum here, bullied for most of my school, but the story I want to focus on isn't from school it self, but a school camping trip called Outdoor School. It was a spring camping trip that was technically optional, but the other choice was a giant stack of homework. Initially, my choice was still the homework which remained the way for most of fall/winter before I finally got worn down by teachers who wanted me to go...Should have taken the friggen homework.

You see on the trip, we slept in cabins in which I shared one with my primary bully...with no camp counselors sleeping with us. So every night, said bully would rally the other kids into a game of make Katia miserable by telling me she wished bad things would happen to me like having my loved ones die, that I would suffer in the real world and I didn't know hardship which everyone agreed with. I was naturally helpless to defend myself and thus thus just had to put up with it.

Then even more bad stuff happened, but that bad stuff happened to everyone so I don't think it's relevant here and thus that was my first and last camping trip without either my parents or my friend's parents.
I think it'd be easier for me to name the classes that I did feel comfortable in.

But that seems to be a recurring theme in this thread, so I guess I'm in good company.

A lot of teachers just did not care to deal with "problem" kids and would only really punish the retaliators against bullies. Being physically disabled makes a person a target, and having poor emotional control means providing easy rewards for awful people. I didn't find relief from this until college.

I guess the strongest instance of a class that I didn't feel welcome in was probably in middle school, when a teacher refused to let me sit near the front so I could see the board and accused me of "attention-seeking" because I brought large-print books to class. I was born with exceptionally poor eyesight, which should be plainly obvious to any teacher who looked at me and saw just how thick my glasses were. I guess wisdom was their dump stat though because they really botched that perception check.
Just thought about another story, this time from 1st grade. Anyway we were learning how to read and I had a speech problem back then. So I was reading one on one with the teacher and the sentence I was trying to read was: "no I am asleep." However due to my speech problem, I kept saying: "no I am a sheep." Well the teacher kept having me read that sentence over and over and over again with me botching it every single time.

Eventually she just sent me away to go solo read and I remember feeling so confused and sad, wondering why I couldn't say it properly. Naturally at that age, I didn't know about speech problems, nor did I know I had a disability. All I knew was that I had failed and didn't know or understand why.
It was when I was in 9th grade, I took a woodshop class and there were only three girls in that class. We all felt extremely unwelcome even by the teacher but we all to stubborn to drop out and take another elective. I enjoyed the class and it was nice it was in the morning so I could get it over with. But all three girls ended up winning a little derby car race and getting some of the top grades.

In the class we had to make little wooden cars that rolled down a little incline and whoever's got the farthest won. It was a fun class though, I really enjoyed it and would do it again.
All of them.

Ok, except one.
I didn't really consider my ADHD as a marginalized trait for myself personally bc I was lucky enough for ppl to only discriminate against me in ways that I had to look back and be like "oh, my b" on LOL. However, in my EDU law and theory class the way the teacher talked about ADHD, showed us things that suggested it didnt exist, etc. and the general ableist vibe of the EDU department in general really uhhhh put me in my place so to speak. I was pretty angry.

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