Things You Should Never Say to a Teacher


Understanding teaching is nigh-on impossible until you do it for yourself. Even the spouses/partners of teachers don’t fully understand its intricacies – but passing comment is easy, but here are a few things you should really, really avoid saying to a teacher.

‘All those holidays must be nice!’

Getting spotted by a student on holiday – the ultimate nightmare.

Holidays are amazing. Being able to take a holiday when you want it is just that bit more amazing. Here’s why. Imagine lazing on a beautiful, tropical beach in your swimming shorts/bikini and suddenly hearing a familiar “Hello Sir/Miss! What are you doing here?” as if the child is surprised you’ve been let out of the school.

That’s when your now cold sweat begins to sizzle in the tropical sun. Not only are you sharing a resort with at least one student, but they’ve also now seen you as pink as a lobster with half a mojito propped in the sand at is effectively lunchtime.

‘If I were a teacher, I’d…’

Do go on…

Here’s where most teachers wish they had a copy of the Teachers’ Standards, policy documents, undergraduate assignments and evidence they’d gathered as a trainee to hand over to someone telling them how they’d handle teaching better than most career teachers. It takes a long time to become a teacher, but by all means, please tell me how you’d do my job better than me.

‘If it’s so stressful, why not quit?’

Even entertaining the idea hurts our soul.

Teachers are likely to complain about their job more than most – we’re practically known for it at this point but saying this to a teacher hurts their soul. Many teachers probably have had that thought about leaving the classroom during the roughest days but at its core, teachers genuinely want the best for their students and work so incredibly hard day-in-day-out because they want it to happen. Quitting would be too easy.

‘They never behave like that for me…’

An appropriate response to the above statement.

Now this one is unique because it applies to teachers and parents alike. Parents who assume their child is an absolute angel boil a teacher’s blood because, unfortunately, students do behave differently if their parents aren’t around and it suggests the teacher is deliberately being misleading. Teachers need parents to support them when they say their child is behaving poorly, not tell them that they must be wrong because they behave perfectly at home.

Now. If you’re a teacher, think carefully about saying this to the NQT who is a bad day away from choosing to do something else with their career. Saying ‘they never behave like that for me’ suggests the NQT is doing something wrong. Instead of phrasing it that way, perhaps suggest they come along to your lesson with a ‘why not see how they work with me?’ approach instead.

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