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10 Things A Teacher Should Never Say

I respect educators. I understand the amount of time and dedication they put into their jobs. I know it’s often a thankless task that is far underpaid. I’ve seen teachers scrape the bottom of their purses to get a folder for a kid who has lost six of them in five months, but no matter how hard it gets, no matter how many accomplishments are achieved, no matter how many kids are helped, every teacher has that moment when the wrong words slip out of their mouth. Hey, they’re only human, just like the rest of us. I can forgive any teacher for the one or two slips- but what I don’t understand is the teacher who isn’t really there to help. I’ve come across a few of them and I always wonder- what possesses a person to sign up for a job they know will be underpaid and underappreciated if they don’t have a passion for teaching?

I’m a big believer that sometimes you just have to fake it til you make it, so if you’re a teacher and you’re struggling to connect to your students- here is a little list of WHAT NOT TO SAY!

Believe it or not, each one of these statements have been heard by one of my students this past year…

10. You’ll never make it in college. (This statement should only be used if you are following it with useful advice such as “unless you start doing your homework every week.”)

9. You can’t go to the Valentine’s Party because your mother didn’t send anything. (You never know what’s going on at home, so do your best to make the classroom a great equalizer instead of a huge divider.)

8. I sent your brother to detention every day. (Don’t judge a kid by who their siblings are, even if your expectations are good. That’s a lot of pressure for any kid! Let them have their own failures and successes. They get enough of the comparisons at home, I can assure you!)


7. If you tell anyone I said/did this I will just say you’re lying. (If you’re classroom has a procedure that violates school policy, you have 2 choices: 1. Adapt your procedure to follow the policy. 2. Stand up to administration about your opposition to the policy. Never threaten to squash a student for being truthful. It paints teachers as persons of low integrity, which is exactly the opposite of what this world needs.)

6. You should have got it when I explained it to the class. (The hardest thing for most kids to do is admit they don’t understand something everyone else seems to grasp. If they have the courage to ask for help, have the compassion to give it.)

5. At this point you should just cheat off someone. (If a kid is trying to catch on to a concept, never tell them to just give up. Too many times they do give up, so you’re job is to show them their potential to learn.)

4. I don’t care what your excuse is. (Why not? Don’t you want someone to care what your excuse is? “Sorry officer, I was speeding because I’m on my way to the hospital…” Maybe they are offering you the key to unlocking their entire educational experience. Take 30 seconds to evaluate before you dismiss their explanations.)

3. You’re not smart enough yet to do these problems. (If they believe they are smart enough to do it, let them try! Sometimes the smartest kids perform the least because they are bored without challenges. You are what you believe you are, so let them believe in their smarts!)


2. You didn’t do it my way, so it’s wrong. (There is more than one way to do almost every task, so if a student finds their own way, and it works, praise instead of punish! The world is full of problems that need some new solutions.)

and last, but certainly not least….

I don’t really care if you learn this or not. My job is just to give you the information. (If you don’t care, why should they?)

There’s a lot advice out there for teachers. Don’t date your students. Don’t spend all your money on school supplies. Don’t volunteer to chaperone too often. Always be prepared with more assignments that you think you need. Never run out of activities. Show school spirit. But none of it matters one little bit unless you live by the Golden Rule!

Do unto others as you’d have done to you. 

So if you want your words to be remembered as words to live by- be sure to choose the phrases that build them up, inspire them to reach further, and allow them room to grow. Show them empathy and respect. Don’t just pass out worksheets so you can go back to Words With Friends. Teach them, and when you do, you will learn something too! You will learn the power of education….



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