I am a teacher

Here's my question:  I feel like I need to tell my students that I am a type 1 diabetic.

Now I am starting to wonder if I should just keep my mouth shut. I have had some situations where people have written about how healthy eating is good and exercise is, too, and they feel, well...

Maybe it's just me, but I think I would rather not have to deal with this situation in the future. I can be objective as I grade, but it's stressful enough (in a good way) without having to also deal with ignorance. I can hide my insulin pump, I think, or disguise it.

Any thoughts, anyone? Oh, and when I am writing on a public website, I do not hold tightly to proper grammar. When you are the enforcer of grammar codes, writing freely online can be an escape. So please don't judge me...

In short: to tell or not to tell, except this time...should I tell? I think it would be useful in case I get low or bring in fluids, but at the same time I HATE it when I get condescension from people. I get told horror stories, etc. The ones that get me frustrated are the ones that talk down to me about something I know about (that they don't). It just adds stress.


I don't think you should actively hide it - that would get stressful, too. You don't have to plan to tell them, but if it comes up, or someone asks, or something, you shouldn't keep it from them. And if you don't normally hide your pump, don't do it for your classes!

Hmmm a tale of two cities.  I can understand both points of view on this one.  One hand you want them to be prepared should there be a situation that arises where your diabetes comes to the forefront; conversely you want to avoid the idiocy that is certain to plague your work.  I say just go about your life and if there is the need to treat a high/low, deal with the pump in class confront their questions then otherwise you should be kosher.

I think like the others have said that you should just go about your life as you normally would. If you need to bolus, bolus. No need to hide your pump. If ever the time does come and you need to say something you can. The only reason I would announce to the whole class my condition was if I was someone who was hypo unaware. If you are then you might want to say something. I think that if you are able to point out that you may have a problem grading someone who comments ignorantly on your diabetes, then you will be able to hold yourself back when grading. If the unfortunate problem does arise.

Another vote for telling your students.  I tell me students on the first day, when we get to the part of the syllabus about disabilities.  I think it helps establish that you take disability needs seriously and gives the students something "human" about you to start the relationship.  I tell them 1)I've only canceled class once due to diabetes, 2) if I pass out during lecture call an ambulance, 3) if I announce a low blood sugar and end class, do not ask me questions because I need to get to sugar right away.  This might trigger a "diabetics don't need sugar" comment, and I take the time to explain (usually be drawing a graph) how high and low bg need different treatments.  In addition to water, I also bring a sugary soda with me to lecture as my backup which I jokingly refer to as my medication.  I might get a few more "don't drink soda" comments, but I simply state that we discussed it on the first day and continue with class.  When I teach cognitive processes I assign the Lippa, Klein, and Shalin (2008) article I posted about earlier, you could give the article to a student and ask them to think it over or write about it. 

As for assignments, you could always make health or diabetes unacceptable topics for papers, or hire someone you trust to grade (or establish inter-rater reliability) the papers you are worried about.  I'm not sure how you handle personal judgments and citing articles inside a paper, you can gently warn or even deduct points for unjustified claims.

This is definitely an issue of what you feel comfortable to do, but I would encourage you to not worry about telling a group you are teaching and will give you a couple of examples of why not:

When I was in junior college I had a professor who was a type 1 for my psychology 100 class and I liked how he told the class.

It was in a big lecture hall and on the first day probably around half way going through the syllabus he said as he took a sip of something,"By the way I am a type 1 diabetic so may have to sip on something to keep my bloodsugar up.  I am not a type 2. I don't want to hear any of your advice, etc....."

He went on a mini-lecture about it, saying he had to tell us in case he ever needed to stop lecturing to have some sugar- gave the class a mini-lesson on it and I remember him saying he didn't want anyone coming up to him after class asking him questions about it, giving advice, asking dumb questions about it or telling him horror stories about their relatives that had limbs amputated because of it- he was pretty blunt about it and funny too- since it was a psychology class he did talk about human behavior as it related to diabetes- but kept it to like maybe 5 to 10 minutes and then that was it.

Since he was the teacher, he had a forum to educate, lay out the ground rules about it and did it in a good way.  I was glad he was able to educate the audience about it, but at the same time never made a big deal about it the rest of the semester.  He maybe once or twice during the course of the semester, popped out a glucose tab or sipped some sugar drink and said, " excuse me just the diabetes thing , I don't want to pass out on you people" and then just kept lecturing.

The only bummer is that I really wanted to ask him questions about it after class since I had only had it for like a year and a half and really did not know any other T1's, but I had to respect his thing about not anyone asking him questions or approaching him after class about it so I never did.

Since you are the teacher, you really have the forum to be in control of the conversation and present it how you like and not deal with the condescension- or if you really don't want to and just pop a glucose tab or drink something sometimes while lecturing that is your choice too- but I am guessing that it would be hard to keep to yourself if you are lecturing alot.

Actually, I used to be a corporate trainer so was teaching all the time too.  If I had a seminar where I was only going to teach the group once or twice, I didn't mention it.  It just wasn't necessary.  (I wear a medic-alert bracelet- always check my BS before a lecture- have sugar handy and had a co-worker who knew I was a T1 around)

 But, sometimes I would be training a group of like 25 people everyday for 2 months- well, I would end up telling them because when you are talking all day in front of them, you get to know them and it is just a natural thing, plus sometimes I would have to take an unexpected break to test and I would just say, let's take a 10 minute break- they all liked that.  I would then get some annoying questions after class, but since I was their supervisor in that situation, people were more hesitant to make inappropriate comments and careful with what they said since part of my job was reviewing their work. 

Since you are their teacher and are in a position of teaching them, I am guessing you would get less people ,if not any, being condescending to you.  I would be surprised to know people talking down to their professor!  I never did.  I didn't like all my professors, but still wouldn't talk to down to them!

So, in the end, you have to do what you feel comfortable to do and consider any safety issues- I have good hypogylcemic awareness and have never passed out in the 26 years I have had it and always have glucose on me- but when I was working, I did always let a co-worker know (eventually, after I proved myself to be a "normal" healthy person) so it also depends on your awareness and co-worker situation.

By the way, I have much better grammar, spelling too- I just never edit or proof or care about it when I email or text.



Anytime I mention I have diabetes, I explain the difference between T1 and 2. If it does come up, you could do that. I find I have fewer lectures from people when they learn that my immune system is meanly going around attacking my innocent pancreas, lol.

Laura, while I respect your teacher's request not to talk about his D, it seems like he could have modeled acceptance of the disease by answering questions. But, that's just my take... When I explain it to people, I try to model the attitude I would like them to have towards me -- I accept I have D, I take it seriously, but it is not a major issue in my current relationship with that person (i.e., at work or something).

I work at a school (as a speech pathologist), but I work with students with special needs ages 1-4, so I typically just shoot up in front of them and they don't even notice or think it's weird. (: They are too busy playing to care about what their uncool teacher is up to, lol.

Once again, I find that I am very grateful for this site. The responses have been insightful and thought-provoking. This term, I taught my class (in around five to seven minutes) about type 1, and I too used it as a reference point for disabilities. I explain to my classes that, while it may seem intrusive, I need to know if accomodations ought to occur (related to testing or other outside demands). I then use the example of what I went through in school.

I can be a little unaware, depending on circumstances (in my case, this is a nice way of saying I don't pay attention sometimes...get carried away, etc.). I try to limit lecture in class, but it is still likely, especially when I get worked up about a discussion or topic, to become oblivious to those subtle cues to stop, take a swig of the Mountain Dew, and keep on going.

I'm okay on the grading part. If anything, I am more cautious if I receive an offensive writing subject (men are different from women...etc.). I just don't like the additional stress. It comes with the job, however...and I love my stressful job. I think there was only one time that I wrote a side note related to a particularly biased rough draft, and in that case, I suggested that the student needs to be careful to avoid using stereotypes (referring to logical fallacies) when she wrote.

It's interesting that inter rater reliability was mentioned. We (all English faculty) go by rubrics, but there is an art to grading writing. It isn't easy to encapsulate the nature of grading in some formal English writing courses. I have noticed that I tend to be on the more lenient side, but that is a trend that is slowly reversing.

The psychology professor sounds like a character...I think I would have liked to speak with him, too. I don't mind the questions...I think most people ask them (in a context like this) when they are comfortable and concerned. It's just on occasion, people become annoying...those situations create a massive amount of frustration (maybe this will calm down after a while). Occasionally, I'll have one try to use a diabetic relative as an excuse to be late to class or miss class. It comes with the territory. This is infuriating to say the least.

I'm still not sure what I will do next term, but again, I appreciate each person's feedback greatly.

Well...here's another case for not saying anything...I had someone tell me about this special herb he'd heard about which "reverses" diabetes. He then started to "educate" me about the three types of diabetes. Type 3 diabetes, evidently, goes waaaaay up and waaaaaaaaaay down. God...people...anyway.

I get excuses like this as well, "My aunt has diabetes and she has both of her legs amputated and she is on dialysis and she is blind and she is a bad diabetic and she has gone into medicine shock and I am feeding her soy milk and peanut butter sandwiches and she has no medicine she has to get it so she is in medicine shock and i will be late for class..."

I wish I could say that this is loosely paraphrased. It is not...I didn't quote it directly...it's close. I told her to bring a doctor's note. The level of manipulative behavior among some people defies description.

Yeah I know about a special herb too. 


[quote user="CHLjoe"]

Yeah I know about a special herb too. 





Laughed out loud with that one.




I'm in the same situation, but I teach 12-14 year-olds, not 17-18.  I have a CGMS that will alarm in the middle of class (one of the reasons I don't like it).  The kids invariably will start saying "oooh, Mr. M has a pager" OR "no texting in class, Mr. M" to which I have to stop class to explain diabetes to them.  Very annoying.

I think I'll do what one person on here suggested and explain myself once at the beginning of the year.  I'm happy to field questions and correct misunderstandings after class at a later period if needed.



OK, I'm kind of late on this one, but you could always turn it into a sort of Q/A session. That's what we did one night at camp, the non-diabetics wanted to ask the diabetics these questions. It was cool because even the simplest, most ridiculous-seeming questions, that turned out to be the most important, like can you catch diabetes and what is it? got answered.

Maybe it would be cool to take a little time out of the day to explain it to your class and ask if they have any questions about it. Of course, you could always start off with explaining you can't catch it, it's not a matter of healthy vs. unhealthy, etc. That's what I would do.

But either way, good luck :)

[quote user="Alyssa"]

OK, I'm kind of late on this one, but you could always turn it into a sort of Q/A session. That's what we did one night at camp, the non-diabetics wanted to ask the diabetics these questions. It was cool because even the simplest, most ridiculous-seeming questions, that turned out to be the most important, like can you catch diabetes and what is it? got answered.

Maybe it would be cool to take a little time out of the day to explain it to your class and ask if they have any questions about it. Of course, you could always start off with explaining you can't catch it, it's not a matter of healthy vs. unhealthy, etc. That's what I would do.

But either way, good luck :)


This is off the topic, but the camp you went to had diabetics and non-diabetics?

Yeah, I taught Eighth grade science for a year.  I told my kids straight out.  That year of teaching was one of the most difficult experiences of my life, but not because of the Diabetes.  In truth, many of the kids were kind, thoughtful, protective, and nurturing of me.  I had a couple "episodes" <---(i'm sure everyone can imagine what kind) and some of those kids would know how and what to do.  No, the year was hard because I discovered that I simply suck at classroom management.  Turns out I am a far better Cardiac Nurse.  :)  (And yes, all the other nurses know about my Diabetes.  And if you think students tend to act like know-it-alls, check out a nurse sometimes....)

Yes, Sarah, both kids/kinds/whatever you want to call it went to the camp.

I am also a teacher. I have been teaching for 14 years and I have taught 1st grade for the last 11 years. I always tell my students about my Diabetes and I also tell their parents at Back to School Night.

I tell them for a couple of reasons...(1) They will see me test my blood at some point and I don't want them to be scared..(2) They may possible see me give myself an injection, if necessary..(3) If I have a low blood sugar episode I explain to them to go next door and get the other teacher or that I may possible have to sit down and drink some orange juice or call the office.

I explain these things very simply. I don't over explain. I do this because once, about 9 years ago I had a severly low blood sugar and passed out in class right before lunch. I layed on my classroom floor for over 30 minutes before my students got hungry and went to tell another teacher that I was sleeping and forgot to take them to lunch. After a lot of embarassment, scaring some of them half to death when the paramedics had to be called and their teacher was taken to the hospital...I decided that it was something I needed to tell my classes from now on.

I know that you teach older students, but just in case of an emergency, I would tell them.  It can be as simple as... "I have diabetes and I always carry emergency glucose with me ( in my purse or in my desk). If you ever notice that I am acting strange, disorientated, confused or that I look sweaty or appear to not be myself...ask my if my sugar is okay and if necessary please give me the glucose..or call 911 if I pass out."

I hope this is helpful. If you need to check your blood sugar in class...it will be easier if they already know because they won't wonder what you are doing. It is always safer to tell those around you about it if you are going to be spending a significant amount of time with them.

Good luck!!! Have a great year.



Today was one for the books. Hopefully, nothing more will come of it...the thing is that I teach adults! Adults, hang it all! I had to kick one out of my class today. He decided it would be a great idea to sit on a female student's lap and then, when I tell him (DUH) to refrain, he cusses me out. And yells at me. And I have two other individuals who have decided that I got what I got because I ate too much, and the smugness drips off of them in waterfalls. I just am not liking circumstances right now. I have a class that is like a wrecking ball, one then another...like a tsunami of bad, disrespectful actions...the others aren't bad...man, was today ever a nightmare. Hopefully, the good teacher fairy will whack me on my head and give me the answer to this situation because this stinks...I take things personally and I am frightened the rest of the time...hopefully, I can catch up and figure something out...

You know of any more opportunities for cardiac care? It sounds like it's right up my alley. Thanks for letting me vent.

I am so sorry to hear of all the trouble you are having with this class. I think I am unclear on if you have told them or not, but you did mention that some of them do know so I might say something like this in that situation - I don't want to discuss specifics, I just want you to know that I have a medical condition and if I should ever pass out please get security or another instructor right away. I hope that things get better with your situation soon. I will pray to the teacher gods for you :)

That's a tough one.. I'm only 16, and in high school - but diabetes is my social weakness.  I don't tell people that I'm diabetic unless they ask about my pump or something. Whenever I tell people, like you, they assume that they know everything about it. In health class as a freshman, the teacher taught about type 2 diabetes, but not once did she mention type 1. It makes me mad. Anyways, if I were you, I'd probably not come right out and tell them, but I wouldn't hide it either. If a situation comes up where you need to eat something, or whatever - you could mention it. good luck! :)