20 Things You Should Never Say To Teachers

Recently, The Huffington Post published an article titled 9 Things You Should Never Say to Teachers, and while the writer’s ideas are spot on, there are so many other things you should never say to teachers as well (especially teachers in need of a break).  Whether you’re a student, a parent, an administrator, or a friend, avoid the following at all costs.*  (Unless death by eye daggers sounds like your cup of tea.)

  1. Are we doing anything important today?  Well, actually, you’re in luck!  We aren’t doing anything important whatsoever.  Come on in, kick your feet up, and play around on social media for 59 minutes, or better yet, blast your iPod on volume eleventy million so nobody else in the room can hear themselves think.  Learning’s overrated anyway.  AMIRIGHT?!?!

  2. Can I turn my assignment in late?  Because, uh, what had happened was, my dog ate my homework right after my computer crashed and my grandma died.  Oh my goodness.  That sounds terrible.  I’m going to have to say no, though.  By the way, how many times is it now that your computer has crashed and your grandma has died in the same night?  Are they cats by any chance? Because they just keep coming back to life and dying all over again.  At this rate, I think you have a pretty good reality TV series pitch — Computers and Grandmas: Defying the Odds.

  3. Have you [graded my essay/written my letter of recommendation/scored the tests/gathered my makeup work/completed my application] yet?  Oh, you mean the one you handed to me 42 seconds ago?  You know, I haven’t.  I know.  Lazy bones over here! {maniacal chuckle}  I really need to get my life in order, huh?

4. I need you to email me every single time my student fails to turn in an assignment or scores below a B.  I’d love to, except then I’d have to remember to do it for the other 149 students in my classes, and I can barely remember to pick my own children up from school.  Tell you what.  How’s about you email me whenever you want to discuss the progress report you have access to online 24 hours per day?

  1. I called you one hour ago, and I haven’t heard back yet.  What’s your problem?  Yeah, I saw that call come in while I was teaching class.  These pesky classes.  Always gettin’ in the way.  Can you believe I have to return calls during my own free time?  Nutso, I tell you.  You’ll hear back within 48 hours.  Promise.

  2. We’re [writing, reading, solving word problems, completing a lab experiment, engaging in higher order thinking, taking a test] today?  Ugh.  SO STUPID!  Tell me about it.  It’s just so stupid and dumb and…and…and stupid that we have to actually do learning and stuff in school.  Whose idea was this, anyway?!

  3. I need you to attend 7 IEPs and 4 504s and one staff meeting and 3 professional development sessions and 2 nights of conferences on top of teaching all day in the same week.  That’s not a problem, is it?  No, of course not!  I was just thinking, if there’s one thing I need, it’s meeting on top of meeting morning in and evening out.  I’m sure my kids will understand why the dogs have to raise them until February.

  4. I need to meet with you immediately about my student’s grade.  I’ll be there at 6 pm tomorrow evening.  Yeah.  Here’s the thing.  I’m not available tomorrow evening.  I have graduate classes to take and soccer practices to attend and doctor appointments to keep and dinners to make and children to parent.  Here’s a better idea.  Why don’t we work together to decide on a mutually acceptable time?

  5. My student spends all his time studying and doing homework.  When are you teachers going to realize they need to live their lives, too?  Gosh.  He spends all his time doing that?  Because today in class, I caught him watching YouTube videos of cats baking brownies and stoners laughing hysterically about fart jokes when he was supposed to be completing his essay.  Weird.

  6. You offer extra credit, right?  Sure.  Forget regular credit.  Let’s just inflate the grades with extra assignments.  The point of grades isn’t to assess actual learning, anyway.

  7. You’re cool with sponsoring Video Game Club and organizing the Freshman Ski Trip and chaperoning the Sadie Hawkins Dance and tutoring students in stuff that’s not part of the curriculum in your free time and without a stipend, right?  Totally.  I love to work extra for nothing.

  8. We have a test today? I didn’t know that!  We do.  Sorry about that.  I imagine it was difficult to figure out, what with the fact that I only said it 7 times yesterday and it was written on the board all week and I put it on our online calendar and I posted a reminder on my website.

13.  I know I was 15 minutes late, but it’s OK.  I was with Mr. So-and-So and Mrs. Who’s-Her-Pants.  Definitely OK.  Their classes are WAY more important than mine, anyway.

  1. Why didn’t you tell me my 18-year-old college-bound senior failed that test?  Um.  Because she’s an 18-year-old college-bound senior?????

  2. Does this assignment count?  No, of course not.  I just thought I’d have you do this thing here to waste your time and mine.  It’s not like we have a bajillion state curriculum standards to target in 9 months or anything.

  3. It’s your fault those students aren’t turning in their work.  You need to make them do it somehow.  You know, you’re so right.  Tomorrow, I’ll drive over to their houses and stop their step-dads from molesting them and make them breakfast and supply them with warm clothes and hold the pencils in their hands and force them to write the answers on the paper and follow them home and help them take care of their dead beat parents’ 27 kids and make dinner and give them a comfy bed to sleep in.  In fact, you know what?  I’m just going to adopt all 32 of them and move them into my guest room.

  4. It’s taken you two weeks to get that assignment back.  What could you possibly be doing that it takes you that long?  Question: Do you like your teeth?

  5. I’d like my child to work beyond what the curriculum requires.  If you could develop an individualized curriculum for her, we’ll pick it up next week.  Absolutely!  I’m noticing I have a lot of free time now that I’m down to 3 preps, anyway.  Why don’t I extend that curriculum into next year, too?  It’s not like I’m busy and stuff.

  6. This [assignment, lesson, project, activity] is stupid.  I hate this.  It’s pointless, too.  You’re so right.  Thank God I have you here to put me in my place.  I did not work late into the evening for a straight week making sure I differentiated my instruction and included a number of state curriculum standards and scaffolded the complex tasks and tried to make the work relevant and rewarding as I was planning it.  I didn’t do that just for you.  Not at all.

  7. Are we watching the movie?  I will cut you.

What things would you advise people avoid saying to teachers?  (Psst. To see 20 things teachers love to hear you say, click here.) 

*NOTE: This is straight sarcasm and reflective of some of the things that wear on teachers over time.  It’s not actually how we approach our constituents.  It’s strictly for entertainment and not reflective of the profession in general.  So if it upsets you for some odd reason, just chill out.  I’m embellishing a whole lot here.

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