13 Things You Should Not Say to Teachers Right Now (or Ever!)

13 Things You Should Not Say to Teachers Right Now (or Ever!)

Teachers are pretty fragile creatures right now. Last year didn’t end the way we wanted it to, then summer became some sort of nebulous extended period of time when none of us knew what was going to happen. Now we’re a few months into the school year and we still don’t know what’s happening. Stress levels are high, so it’s important to follow this list of things not to say to a teacher right now (or ever).

1. “Parents should be paid for helping teach their children while they’re at home.”

Put this on the top of the list of things not to say to teachers – unless you want to see them laugh…then cry. Amazingly some parents feel they should be making some of that sweet, sweet teacher money because they are occasionally forced to (gasp!) help their own children with something. While parenting is in fact one of the noblest professions, it sadly has never come with any financial abundance. But please, do keep us posted on that.

2. “Thank goodness for technology so you can teach from home even if you have to quarantine yourself.”

Yes, technology is a wonderful thing, but teachers are learning it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. After the “teach from home” fiasco that was the end of last school year, districts realized that teachers literally had the ability to teach from anywhere; their kitchen, a hospital bed, you name it! Now even if you’re sick and falling apart you can still prop your failing body up against a pillow and deliver high-quality lesson plans. Isn’t that fantastic?!

3. “Children don’t really get sick with COVID-19 so teachers have nothing to worry about.”

If only that was the case. Research shows children may not get as sick as adults, but they are really good at spreading stuff. It’s like being locked in a room with 25 squirt guns and trying not to get wet. Teaching in times of COVID is a tricky task indeed.

4. “Virtual teaching sounds pretty easy, getting paid to sit around at home in your pajamas.”

Well, I’ll give you this… the sitting part is nice. Other than that virtual teaching has become way more complicated than any of us thought it was going to be. Trying to deliver the same high-energy, fully engaging lesson plans online as we do in person takes tremendous energy.

5. “We spent the weekend at a theme park and I know my son is coughing a lot, but it’s probably allergies… He should be just fine at school.”

Awesome. Great. Fantastic. So just so we’re clear, you ran around for two whole days exposing your child to every illness under the sun and now you’re dumping him in my lap for the next eight hours? This is why there isn’t enough hand sanitizer in the world to make teachers feel safe. Maybe school districts can invest in clear plastic bubbles for the students to roll around in?

6. “I bet that extra-long summer break you had was fun!”

Teachers didn’t get “extra” time off. We finished the spring semester tossed in remote teaching hell. Then we spent the summer wondering how in the heck we were going to socially distance a classroom of 25 kids while keeping them germ and COVID free and also managing to churn out killer lessons on a daily basis. We didn’t enjoy summer so much as we spent most of it curled up in a ball stressing out over what insane thing was going to happen next.

7. “Remote teachers should only get half their salary since parents are doing half the work.”

Yeah, I know that math makes sense in your head but believe me it does not. If only teaching virtually was actually half the work. In reality, it’s so much more. Much, much more. Classroom teachers are geared to being able to see their students face to face and interact with them. Trying to figure out how to get the same level of engagement out of a bunch of faces on a Zoom call is way harder than any of us ever anticipated.

8. “At least you have the weekend to relax.”

Yes, weekends can be relaxing, or at least slightly more relaxing than actual teaching, but not by much. Teachers have had to put in so many extra hours at school figuring out all of this COVID nonsense that our homes have gone largely neglected. Sure home is where the heart is, but it’s also where the piles of laundry, stacks of unwashed dishes, and mountains of dirt are. Plus, we’re usually grading, writing lesson plans, and preparing for the week all weekend.

9. “I’m so glad the schools reopened. My child was stuck in the house with me for six months and it was torture!”

Oh, yeah? Was it difficult keeping that one child entertained every day? OK, now multiply that problem by 25 and you get a rough idea of what teaching is like. Except for this year you also get the bonus of playing a really fun game of hide-and-seek with germs that are trying to kill you. But yeah, spending time with your own children must have just been devastating.

10. “I’m glad hybrid learning is giving teachers a break. Splitting the class between in-person and online must be so much easier with only a handful of kids in the classroom.”

Oh, how wrong that sentiment is. It’s sweet and lovely, but oh so misguided. Teaching hybrid classes has become the new bane of every teacher’s existence. Mostly because no one has exactly figured out how to do it yet. Do you teach your in-person kids like normal and hope your at-home kids can follow along through Zoom? Do you center your class around making everything digital so your at-home students feel comfortable? But won’t that make things kind of boring for the in-person students? No one has the answers yet and we’re about ⅓ of the way through the school year already.

11. “At least you get to go home at 3 pm and rest while everyone else works until 5.”

It certainly would be nice… if we ever actually got to leave on time. There’s a reason our students are so shocked when they see us out in public. Most of us are lucky if we get to see our house during daylight hours from Monday to Friday.

12. “My child is bored in your online class, can you try and make it more interactive?”

Teachers have so much going on right now. They may be teaching your child and 10 more kids online while trying to engage their in-person kids. We all need to chill out and give teachers a breather.

13. “At least teachers have the joyous holiday season in school to look forward to!”

Oh, the holidays truly are the most wonderful time of the year, but in the classroom, holidays mean something else entirely. As we approach Halloween children find new and creative ways to sneak contraband candy into school. Then after that sugar rush is over their minds start wandering to Thanksgiving break and we all know that once Thanksgiving is over it’s nearly impossible to wrangle a class for the rest of the year.


13 Things You Should Not Say to Teachers Right Now (or Ever!)

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David Rode

Dave is a middle school math teacher. He's also a musician, a community theater, dad to two amazing children, and he doesn't get a lot of sleep.

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