20 Things You Should Never Say to a Teacher

Do yourself a favor and skip these at your next parent-teacher conference

20 Things You Should Never Say to a Teacher

Teaching is a tough career. Regardless of what you may think about the fact that teachers’ work days seem to end in the early afternoon (FYI, they usually don’t) or that they have summers off, there are a lot of things about being a teacher that are seriously challenging.

They’re generally overworked, underpaid, and on their feet all day. And yet, people often regard teaching as a less intense job. In reality, it’s anything but. Whether you’re friends with a teacher, heading in for a parent-teacher meeting, or just giving your kids a heads up about what to avoid saying in the classroom, here’s a handy guide to how to not get on their bad side. Oh, and speaking of educators: if you’re looking for a great laugh, know that This Dad’s Letter to His Son’s Teacher Is Too Funny for Words.

Never Say to a Teacher

“Oh you work with little kids, so you’re basically a babysitter!”

If you want to make a teacher mad, this is a pretty surefire way to do it. “In the past, I have heard comments like these and found them to be upsetting, given that a lot goes into creating an age-appropriate learning environment for children,” explains Diana Santamaria, a preschool teacher and educational author. “This includes creating lesson plans, preparing hands-on learning activities that are appropriate to the curriculum, individualizing instruction for all learning styles, and more.” For more on actual babysitting, check out 20 Secrets Your Babysitter Isn’t Telling You.

teacher Never Say to a Teacher

“Our kid’s last teacher was an idiot.”

The quickest way to signal to a teacher that you’re going to be that parent they hate dealing with? Say this. Even if you didn’t love all of your child’s past teachers, putting them down so bluntly in front of your their current one makes it seem like you don’t have much respect for their profession.

Rest assured: Teaching is hard, and while there might be a few “idiot” teachers out there, the majority are extremely bright, empathetic, caring people who have dedicated their lives to helping kids (yours included) prepare for what lies ahead of them.

blackboard Never Say to a Teacher

“I can read and write. It can’t be that hard to teach it.”

“Actually, teaching reading and writing is quite extensive,” says Anna Voth, who has been an educator for 20 years. “Students need to have phonemic awareness before they can every start to understand the complex ideas behind letter sounds, putting them together, making a word, what a word is, using it in a sentence, and being able to communicate clearly through writing.” Phew. That’s a lot. “The reading process takes so much time and early educators create this foundation and skill that we use for the rest of our lives. Not only is teaching reading and writing difficult, it takes a very skilled professional with hours of training to make it happen.” 

classrom Never Say to a Teacher

“My kid doesn’t lie.”

Oh really? Not all kids lie, but if a teacher is telling you that your child said something untrue in their classroom and you’re resisting them, ask yourself: Why would they make it up? For more on lying kids, check out  40 Lies Kids Say That Parents Always Fall For.

homework Never Say to a Teacher

“You give too much homework.”

Parents and children often complain about the amount of homework assigned. Teachers aren’t trying to make your life inconvenient, they’re trying to encourage learning. To that end, homework is generally necessary.

unhappy boy Never Say to a Teacher

“My kid gets bored easily.”

Say this in a parent-teacher conference and teachers will hear one of two things. Either you think your kid is a genius, or you’re warning them that your kid might be disruptive in class. Neither situation—a kid who thinks they’re smarter than everyone else or one who will constantly pull focus—is something a teacher will be psyched about.

man yelling Never Say to a Teacher

“I’m going to get you fired!”

Whether this comes from a parent or a student, this kind of petty threat (one that’s often spurred by less-than-stellar marks) is definitely not something teachers want to hear. The truth is, students and parents alike very rarely have the power to get a teacher fired, but it never feels good to hear someone say this—no matter your profession.

friends chatting Never Say to a Teacher

“I wish I had an easier job, like teaching!”

Hate to break it to you, but even though teaching may seem “easy” since school ends at 3 PM, it’s one of the most challenging jobs out there. Burnout is a serious issue among educators—for quite a few reasons—but one of them is that getting in front of a classroom each day and teaching is difficult.

boy struggling Never Say to a Teacher

“I already know how to do that.”

This one comes from students, and teachers hate hearing it because often, students say it before they’ve heard the full breadth of the lesson. If the student really does know how to do something already, that presents a new type of inconvenience that some teachers may find annoying. “Teachers have to motivate the student. Sometimes, the teacher has to do more work to challenge the student,” explains Ais Her, Director of Schools at Fountainhead Montessori School in Dublin, CA.

age Never Say to a Teacher

“How old are you?”

Sometimes students ask this question, and teachers usually brush it off expertly or simply answer it. The problem occurs when a parent asks a teacher about their age, insinuating that perhaps they’re too young to be an authority on a certain topic or that the parent knows more about how to teach their child simply because they’re older. But teachers are trained to know what they’re doing, so their age is pretty much irrelevant.

man teaching kid Never Say to a Teacher

“Well, my mom said…”

*Eye roll.* Parents aren’t always right. Whether in response to a correction, request, or question, teachers don’t love hearing this come out of students’ mouths.

faculty lounge Never Say to a Teacher

“Wow, you only work 10 months a year?!”

Yup, teachers get summers off. But in most cases, they’re also incredibly overworked during the school year, spending weekends, evenings, and sometimes even holiday breaks dreaming up creative and engaging lesson plans to keep students interested. Trust that they deserve some time off.

 bad kid Never Say to a Teacher

“Well, he never acts like this at home.”

Sure he doesn’t. This places the blame on the teacher for your child’s misbehavior. While it’s might not necessarily be the parent’s fault, it’s also unlikely that it’s the teacher’s fault.

protesting Never Say to a Teacher

“You wouldn’t be so concerned about your salary if you really cared about kids.”

Just like any other profession, teachers are allowed to ask for raises. Yes, sometimes they use strikes to protest the fact that they aren’t being paid enough, but honestly, if you had to buy school supplies for all the kids in your class, you’d probably be pretty willing to strike, too.

 kid in class Never Say to a Teacher

“Since my I pay taxes, I am technically your boss.”

Well, no, not exactly. “I believe that all teachers, and anyone reading this, knows there is no need to explain hehe,” Voth says.

grading Never Say to a Teacher

“We’re going on vacation next week. Can you prepare all my daughter’s work so we can take it with us?”

And the related: “Are you teaching anything important next week?” Um, yes?!

It’s nice that you’re going on vacation, but pulling kids out of school for vacation outside of holiday breaks can be disruptive and leave them feeling like they’ve fallen behind. And just because you’re going on vacation doesn’t mean their teacher should have to do extra work to ensure that doesn’t happen.

 meeting Never Say to a Teacher

“Is there anything he can do for extra credit?”

Parents sometimes try to bargain for extra credit when their child has done poorly on an important project or test. Unfortunately, it required their teacher to come up with something additional for them to do. If they’re pressed for time, they’re not going to like this request.

babies Never Say to a Teacher

“You work with babies, how hard can that be?!”

Even preschoolers require careful lesson planning. “As educators of any age-group, we have to ensure that the children are not only comfortable in their classroom and with the teachers, but also that we are scaffolding their learning so they are prepared for the next grade level, which requires lots of preparation and assessment,” Santamaria says. “And just because the children are younger doesn’t mean they are ‘just playing all day.'”

exam Never Say to a Teacher

“Standardized tests help us determine if teachers are effective.”

Actually, there are a lot of problems with standardized testing. While they can be a useful tool in some respects, they evaluate what individual students know on the day of the test, not how much they’ve learned, how far they’ve come since the beginning of the school year, or how well-planned their teachers lessons are.

woman at computer Never Say to a Teacher

“How can you be a good teacher if you don’t have kids?”

Seriously? Chances are, you know some parents who aren’t exactly good with kids. Having kids of your own is by no means a requirement for being an educator, and whether or not someone has chosen to have children is no one’s business but their own. For more on kids, here’s The Secret to Raising Healthy Kids.

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