What Teachers Say vs. What Students Hear


What Teachers Say vs. What Students Hear

We all know the lines of communication get crossed quite a bit in the classroom, but the level of disconnect between students and teachers can be staggering. So let’s delve into just a few of these all-too-common misunderstandings.

1. What teachers say: “Let’s work in groups.”

What students hear: “Get up out of your seat and make a beeline for your best friends, trample anybody in your way, and talk very loudly about your plans for the weekend.”

2. What teachers say: “Does anybody have any questions?”

What students hear: “Think of something that has absolutely nothing to do with what we’re currently learning and shout out your irrelevant question without raising your hand. Or raise your hand and just ask if you can go to the bathroom and disappear for an unreasonable amount of class time.”

3. What teachers say: “Line up for lunch.”

What students hear: “Jump out of your seat as if you’re on fire, scream at the top of your lungs, and act like a wild animal. Take the longest route possible and squeeze up against the door, making no attempt at all to form a line.”

4. What teachers say: “Report cards go home next week.”

What students hear: “Bombard me with emails or interrupt my planning period to feed me some really creative excuses as to why you didn’t do any of the assignments and beg for some more time to finish them.”

5. What teachers say: “Let’s all quiet down please”.

What students hear: Yell across the classroom to your friend about what you watched on TV last night. Pay no attention to the blood trickling out of my ears, it’s completely normal.”

6. What teachers say: “Everyone, take out a pencil.”

What students hear: Blurt out to the world that you don’t have a pencil and ask me to borrow another one of mine, even though you have several buried at the bottom of your backpack that you ‘lost’ last week.”

7. What teachers say: “Please keep your masks on over your mouth and nose.”

What students hear: “Feel free to wear your mask as a bracelet, an eyepatch, a chin guard, a blindfold, fill it with snacks, use it as a slingshot, a tissue, or get really creative and tie 2 together so you can wear it as a bikini top! Whatever you do, make sure you take it off when you need to sneeze and cough.”

8. What teachers say: “Please stay in a single-file line!”

What students hear: “Make absolutely no attempt to stay behind the person in front of you. Wander a bit, maybe stop short out of nowhere to retie your shoelaces, and try to step on the untied shoelace of your classmate in front of you for fun.”

9. What teachers say: “Read the instructions before starting your work.”

What students hear: “Randomly fill in answers on whatever line you think they should go on, circle something, underline something else, and hand it in. The instructions are pointless.”

10. What teachers say: “Take this home and make sure your parents see it.”

What students hear: “Shove this into your backpack without even looking at it. Don’t put it in a folder, just cram it way down to the bottom so no one will ever find it.”

11. What teachers say: “Yes, you may go to the bathroom.”

What students hear: “Go wander the halls and see how many of your friends you can see through the door of other classrooms on your epic voyage. Then when you return, be sure to interrupt my lesson to regale your classmates about something gross you saw on your journey.”

12. What teachers say: “Pick an appropriate screen name for Kahoot.”

What students hear: “Think of the dirtiest, most vulgar screen name you can use that I won’t catch. Try using lots of bizarre letter and number combinations that’ll throw me off and make you a legend amongst your classmates.”

13. What teachers say: “When you’re in the cafeteria, please behave.”

What students hear: “Let’s see how big of a mess you can make in 20 minutes. If any food falls on the ground, please step on it and smear it in or throw it anywhere except in the trashcan.”

14. What teachers say: “This week, we’ll be writing 5-paragraph essays.”

What students hear: “This week, I will ask you to complete tasks that no mere mortal could ever accomplish because I am the devil. No other teacher on Earth would ever assign anything as diabolical as this.”

15. What teachers say: “Please be careful with the scissors.”

What students hear: “If you’re using scissors remember they’re not just for paper. Your classmate’s hair, your clothes, your textbook are all fair game!”

16. What teachers say: “The assignment is due on Friday.”

What students hear: “Feel free to turn in the assignment whenever you feel like. Due dates don’t matter. In fact, completely ignore this assignment and when there are 2 days left in the quarter, come ask me for extra credit to pull up your grade.”

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What Teachers Say vs. What Students Hear

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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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