Anybody that has a child, pays taxes, or attended any kind of school, feels qualified to impart nuggets of sometimes unsolicited, and often bad, advice when they hear teachers are struggling.

While well-intentioned, this advice can irritate the bejeezus out of us.

Why does it bother us so much when people are trying to help? The simple answer is that the suggestions are so far off the mark that it doesn’t even come remotely close to what we are experiencing in the classroom.

Here are some of the more irritating gems of wisdom we receive regularly.

1. “Get another job if you are unhappy.”

Not sure that this is the advice that should be handed out to teachers so freely right now in the midst of a massive teacher shortage. How about we take a proactive approach and eliminate the causes of job dissatisfaction instead of telling us to quit?

2. “Be stricter to improve student behavior.”

Pretty certain I’m not scaring anyone, no matter how loud I yell. Students know our hands are tied with discipline. They just go home, tell their parents that we are picking on them, the parents complain to administrators, and it is all our fault once again.

3. Build relationships to improve student behavior.”

We completely agree with this one, but can you make it a little easier on us? Hugging students is not allowed anymore. And cramming forty students in a classroom doesn’t really set the stage for heart-to-heart conversations.

4. “Just finish your work at school.”

Friends and significant others don’t quite understand the magnitude of our workload. It can’t be just left behind in the classroom. If we did leave it for the morning, we would be up all night worrying about being grossly underprepared for the day.

5. “Remember to take care of yourself.”

Would this occur before or after the mountains of unnecessary paperwork, intricate lesson planning, meetings, subbing for other classes, and grading? Our insomnia due to excessive anxiety and stress interferes a bit with self-care.

6. “Don’t spend your own money on stuff for your class.”

But we really need stuff for our class. Schools can’t even afford to supply us with enough copy paper. If we want our students to have what they need, we must provide it, unfortunately.

7. “Change to X, Y, Z curriculum. It will solve all your problems.”

When schools do not achieve the results they want, they look for the next silver bullet in the form of the latest fad curriculum. But the best curriculum is one that we, the teachers, feel comfortable with and can make our own.

8. “Schools need to use their dollars wisely.”

What are these elusive dollars in which you speak? Education is drastically underfunded. Some believe that we are given plenty of money and are just squandering it away on pizza parties and staff shirts. No, teachers buy those things from their own pockets.

9. “Do it for the kids.”

Politicians and school leaders routinely use the tagline that education is a calling, and we should lay down our very lives for our students.

This is emotional manipulation.

If they really understood what putting kids first meant, they would make sure that the people who were truly putting the kids first are respected, valued, and fairly compensated. 

10. “Take a day off to regroup.”

We would love to but… We must plan for hours to prepare for a non-existent sub.

That day we take for our mental health would cause us more stress, guilt, and worry than just showing up, so we show up.

11. “Just take student phones away to get them to pay attention.”

This is like taking a slab of meat away from a hungry lion cub and its mother. Even the most angelic students will become defiant, and their parents will be up at the school in five seconds flat, wondering why their children didn’t immediately respond to a text.

12. “Stick to teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic.”

If only we could, if only we could. Sigh. The public sometimes has the view that students are coming to us, sitting at their desks quietly, eyes glued on the teacher, eagerly learning everything we have to teach.

No, they are coming to us with out-of-control behaviors brought on by early trauma and lack of structure. We are teaching emotional regulation, self-control, and manners. Somebody has to do it.

13. “Sell Rodan + Fields, Scentsy, or some other MLM to supplement your income.”

Why should we have to? Many teachers participate in multi-level marketing sales. These take a lot of time; and often, educators lose money instead of making money. Educators who have completed years of advanced schooling should not have to hit up their peers to make a sale to supplement their inadequate incomes.

14. “Go back to teaching ‘The Old Way.’”

We get this a lot from parents about Common Core and curriculum methods. The problem is teachers do not control the curriculum. Please refer this advice to your local state government or school district.

15. “Make school more fun for kids.”

What does this even mean? Sorry, we can’t compete with video games, and we shouldn’t be required to do so. We do our best to make the curriculum relevant and motivating, but to expect fun and games every day is unrealistic.

We know everyone is trying to help, but the only advice teachers truly benefit from is given to us by our colleagues. Other educators completely understand the issues that we face, and their experiences are invaluable.

So, if you are a friend, spouse, or administrator to an educator, please give us a listening ear and leave the expert advice to those that have been there.

Bad Advice We Constantly Get From Non-Educators