10 Things People Say That Drive Teachers Crazy

things non-teachers say

No profession is more misunderstood and under-estimated than education. Which is weird, because pretty much everybody went to school and interacted with dozens of teachers in their lifetimes. So you’d think most people would have some clue about what the life of a teacher is like… and you’d be wrong.

So to help my fellow teachers, here’s a quick list of ridiculous things non-teachers say, and how best to respond.

1. Having summers off must be nice

What you should say: Well it certainly would be, if I didn’t spend the first month of it recovering from the previous school year, and the second month preparing for the next one. 

What you really want to say: Summers off? OFF? Are you kidding me? I drag my exhausted body across the finish line at the end of every school year and if it wasn’t for summer vacation I’m pretty sure I’d end up hospitalized!

2. I would love to work with kids all day

What you should say: Yes, I can understand that. I too went into education because I enjoy working with children. I now realize that the children that existed in my mind and the children I have to handle are two VERY different creatures.

What you really want to say: Oh you would, would you? Have you ever been locked in a room with 30 rabid hyenas before? For 7 hours? Wait let me guess, your experience with children is babysitting when you were 12 right? That is NOTHING compared to what we deal with bucko!

3. I bet working with kids keeps you young

What you should say: Well, I certainly know everything there is to know about Fortnite and Jojo Siwa that’s for sure. Of course, they still look at me like I’m a dinosaur. Probably because I told them I still listen to music on an ‘iPod’.

What you really want to say: Oh sure, absolutely…. NOT! Chasing kids around doesn’t keep me young, it leaves me permanently exhausted. I leave school every day with all the vim and vigor of a 300-year old sea turtle. 

4. If students aren’t passing their tests, it’s obviously the teacher’s fault

What you should say: That’s a really complicated issue actually. A lot of us feel like we’re over-testing our students and that’s leading to burnout. Not to mention, it’s becoming a lot harder to provide tests for students coming from different backgrounds and home situations.

What you really want to say: It’s MY fault? I spend hours every week crafting lesson plans AND reaching everyone’s individual learning style. Then I review the material the day before the test, give them study guides, AND tell them they can ask me for help. What else do you want me to do? Take the test for them?

5. Why should teachers get a raise? They get so much time off

What you should say: You know, that’s a common misconception. If you actually compare the number of hours teachers work per year to the national average, teachers actually get less time off than other people. Not to mention, a lot of us have 2nd jobs to make ends meet.

What you really want to say: Where is the magical time off I keep hearing about? Seriously, I bust my butt all week long, then spend my weekends grading and lesson planning. Vacations are spent either going on training, planning ahead, or spending time with my family… who have probably forgotten my name at this point. Please point me in the direction of this “time off” you speak of.

6. How hard can it be to control a group of children?

What you should say: It can actually be a lot harder than you think. Kids today come from many different situations so they all have different needs and behaviors. Plus, class sizes are bigger than ever so controlling 25 students at a time can be a real challenge.

What you really want to say: How hard is it to control my class every day? Hmm… imagine you’re on a unicycle, that’s on a tightrope, and you have a handful of cats that all don’t get along. Also, you’re in the middle of a hurricane. That’s how hard it can be. Does that sound fun to you? Didn’t think so.

7. I’m a parent so I know how hard teaching can be

What you should say: Yes, being a parent is great. Parents are the first teachers that children have in their lives. Of course, it’s a little different when you have an entire classroom of students at the same time.

What you really want to say: Oh so you’re a parent… how wonderful. Let me ask you something. Are you currently raising 25 kids at the same time? No? Just 1 or 2? I will literally pay you to find me a classroom with only 2 students in it. I’ll move there tomorrow.

8. Why are teachers so tired? School is over at 3.

What you should say: Technically that’s when students go home. Teachers actually have to stay after school to get more work done.

What you really want to say: So just because your kid is done with school at 3, you think we just lock everything up and walk away? That’s when we get to grade papers, lesson plan and hold endless meetings. I haven’t been home before sunset all year!

9. If I was a teacher I would travel during that long summer break

What you should say: That does sound nice! Of course, it can be hard to afford to travel on our salary. Plus a lot of us work second jobs in the summer so we don’t really get a lot of time off.

What you really want to say: Travel? On my salary? To where? The 7-11 down the street? At this point, I can afford to ‘travel’ to McDonald’s and order off the value menu.

10. I guess if my job falls through I could always teach

What you should say: Hey, we certainly could use more teachers that’s for sure. However, there’s a lot of work involved in becoming a teacher so you might want to research that before making the switch.

What you really want to say: Yeah sure, absolutely. Just become a teacher. Right after you take all the appropriate classes, complete all the trainings, take the tests, file all the paperwork, and prove that you can be successful in a classroom by yourself with 20+ children that you’ve never met before. Super simple!

WATCH: What Teachers Say vs. What They Really Want to Say to Rude Comments From Parents

Ridiculous Things Non-Teachers Say and How To Respond

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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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