8 Tips to Avoid Using Your Teacher Voice and Redirecting Misbehaving Kids in Public

teacher voice

Turning off our teacher mode is tough. Follow these eight tips so you don’t have to “teacher” on your time off and you can get back to only using your teacher superpowers in the classroom. 

We are teachers through-and-through, so it makes total sense that when we see kids in public who are not using their inside voices or feet, it causes us to snap into teacher mode right on the spot. However, we are not on duty 24/7 (thank goodness), and it is not our responsibility to correct every child’s behavior we see in public, despite the urges we might have to scream, “Walking feet and inside voices!” at random children wreaking havoc in the produce section of the grocery store. 

So, what do we do when we see children acting a fool in the wild? Try these eight easy tips for what to do next time you see poor public behavior. Save your teacher voice for the classroom because Lord knows we all need it healthy and in good form for our actual jobs. 

#1 Make Like Felicia and Bye!

How often has the stress and behaviors in your classroom been so bad that you daydreamed of just getting up, walking out, driving to the airport to buy a ticket to literally anywhere else, and just coasting off into the clouds with a mimosa in the economy cabin? When the kids aren’t your responsibility, you can totally just walk away from the mess and not worry about losing your job. Consider it free behavioral therapy. 

#2 Activate Your Teacher Presence Force Field

Precisely like you would do in the classroom when a kid is acting up- stand next to them and see what happens. Because teachers have this presence that radiates like a halo around them that cannot be resisted by any human child, it will magically make them cease fighting with their sibling right there in the canned soup aisle. Our mere presence can make children “get in line.”

#3 Use the “teacher look”

Is some kid making your weekend shopping life miserable by screaming, crying, or complaining to their parents while you’re trying to find more stuff you don’t need from the Target Dollar Spot? Since most parents don’t take too kindly to people disciplining their child (unless it’s in your classroom- then it’s all on you), just hit them with the death glare- I mean- Teacher Look. It works 99 times out of 100. The Teacher Voice is powerful, but the Teacher Look is straight telepathy. 

#4 Find Your Namaste

In the same fashion we tell our students to take deep, cleansing breaths during high stakes tests, we can do the same to prevent Public Teacher Voice. Before even exiting your car, open up your Calm app, meditate, burn some sage, whatever you need to get in the right headspace. As you walk into the store or other public area, count your breaths and think of your happy place (likely the store you are walking into) and just breathe. When a kid is acting up, take ten deep breaths, and again remind yourself, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

#5 Pay the Price of Peace

You’re at a water park, trying to pretend the place isn’t crawling with children, but there’s a kid near you pitching a fit because they want something. When the parents aren’t looking, say to the kid, “What will it take for you to stop so I can enjoy the sunburn I’m working on? Do you want a snow cone? A hot dog? Here’s $20. Go buy whatever you are whining about and take your time while you’re at it.” I know this is not how we would handle things in the classroom, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

#6 Play in out in your mind

Sometimes you need to work it out but not like literally. As you approach a hostile environment i.e., a child is running through the clothes section at Target and hiding in the clothing racks, getting their Taki fingers all over the clothes you might buy, work out in your head how you’d handle the situation in your classroom. One word of caution with this strategy, if you start actually acting it out or you catch yourself in a mirror, and you look like you are having a silent conversation with one of the voices in your head, abort mission.

#7 Get your incognito on

Wherever you are going, plan not even to have the chance to hear or see a situation that might call for using your Teacher Voice. Put your headphones in and play some relaxing (or upbeat- you do you, boo) music or maybe even some Gregorian chanting- literally anything that blocks the sound of children complaining. Keep your sunglasses on, focus on the music, and the new Rae Dunn notebooks that caught your eye, and you won’t have a Teacher Voice slip up, guaranteed. 

#8 Snitches Get Peace and Quiet

Chances are, the exhausted parent doesn’t know their kid opened up a Snickers and is eating it on the floor in the bra section of Walmart because you, know, kids. In your most non-condescending voice, let them know and help a parent out. It takes a village to raise these children. Also, you will feel good knowing you didn’t have to use your Teacher Voice, AND another child was saved from being an embarrassment to their poor parent. 

We work hard, and our Teacher Voices are crying out in pain by the time Friday comes. If you follow the tips above, you will save your voice, sanity, and the person you are shopping with from having to run and hide the second they sense you are about to go full Teacher on a strange kid. You’re welcome.


8 Tips to Avoid Using Your Teacher Voice and Redirecting Misbehaving Kids in Public

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Katie is a 3rd-grade teacher. She loves buying décor she doesn't need for her classroom, long and repeated walks to the refrigerator in search of Ben & Jerry, and collecting stacks of books she never has time to read. When she is not in the classroom, she is practicing the great art of writing procrastination. Sometimes she actually writes stuff.
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