I can definitely tell, and I always sit the awkward shy ones with their crushes. Some would call me a guardian angel.
I teach preschool. They tend to lack any sort of filter, so they’ll just say it outright, sometimes to me, sometimes to their crush: “Matthew is my boyfriend!” or “Let’s get married, Julia.” They will also occasionally try to kiss their crush. Today, one of my students Gavin kissed my hand & proposed. He’s four. It was adorable. I almost wish adult men were as up front (although I think I’d be a bit freaked out with a proposal).
Former high school teacher. Like it or not, high school students are children. They act like children when they find love, and you can see the toughest-acting football player turn into an 8-year-old who pinches the girl he likes and then runs away.
The saddest thing ever was watching a young man, 14, attend a school dance with his crush. She abandoned him at the dance and he used one of the side exits to leave. I followed him to make sure that he was okay, and I stopped short – he was bawling – so I left him alone. Well, actually, I stood next to the door and when I heard the handle jiggle, I opened it for him. He and I talked about life for the remainder of the dance, and I could tell that he really, really did not want me to mention what had happened. So I didn’t.
I teach 10th graders. When I was student teaching at age 21, I was really well-liked and the students told me a lot of personal stuff, probably because my age made me more approachable to 15/16-year-olds.
One girl, C, would spend her study hall in my classroom during my planning period along with about 5 other students who just wanted to get out of study hall. She told me that she liked a boy, S, who also hung out in my classroom at that time. From then on, I used to group them together in class on purpose to get her to talk to him and give them an opportunity to spend some time together. I would always encourage her to ask him to hang out or tell her about things he was interested in so she could start conversations with him about it.
She loved him – I think he saw her as a friend but was generally clueless about her feelings. The saddest moment between the two of them was during my planning period/their study hall. Some of the other kids that hung out in my room during that time were off running errands for me, so it was just C, S, and I in the classroom. C was a pretty overweight girl, and she was sitting on the desk part of those dumb classroom desks, and the desk completely gave out, breaking and sending her falling to the ground. I immediately shooed S out of the room, sending him to get the maintenance guy to get the desk out. When S was gone, C started bawling and was absolutely mortified (I knew she would be, which is why I sent S away quickly). I talked her through her embarrassment and by the time S got back, C was cool as a fucking cucumber and totally brushed it off.
We went back to normal conversation and I’m sure S forgot about it within minutes. My student teaching ended about a month later, so I’m not sure if anything became of C and S but I definitely still think about them sometimes.