10 Things Teachers Hate to Hear


1. “My seat feels wet.”
This phrase strikes terror in the heart of any teacher.  It means she must sanitize, figure out if there is a way to get the offender some dry clothes, and keep the other kids from making fun.  Okay, confession.  While I have heard many phrases with the same implication as this one, I must admit that I’ve never heard this one.  I uttered it.  In first grade.  You can blame my friend Valerie for repeatedly asking me to “wait for her” to finish what she was doing before accompanying me to the bathroom during recess.  Why do girls like to go to the bathroom together, anyway?  But I digress . . .

2. “My mom said you were wrong about ______________.” 
Either way you slice it, this is a bad phrase to hear as a teacher.  If you were right and the mom was wrong, you don’t want to correct the child and offend the mother.  If you happened to be wrong about something, you must admit to your student that you were wrong and that’s just downright embarrassing.  It’s happened to me both ways.  Excuse me for forgetting when polio was eradicated, University Professor Mommy.

3. “Why is Hayden putting his face in the trash can?” 
The dreaded stomach bug circulation.  You are LUCKY if Hayden makes it to the trash can before he empties the contents of his stomach all over the room.

4. “Mrs. L, Sara is giving herself a haircut.” 
Okay, in my case, Sara was named Brian.  And he was 10.  And his Momma was furious that I did not tell my fifth graders not to use their scissors to cut their hair.  And she was even more furious that I do not have 32 pairs of eyes around the circumference of my head so that I could see that he was about to cut his hair and stop him.

5. “Mrs. L., are you a virgin?” 
Long ago, before I was Mrs. L., and went by Ms. T.,  I was asked this several times by my seventh graders.  Now this is a conundrum.  It’s inappropriate for students to ask this, of course.  But if you answer the question with, “That’s inappropriate,” the immediate response is, “So then you’re not a virgin,” followed by laughter.  You can’t win this battle.

6. “Can I wash off my rope burn?”
It is the WORST thing when one of your students gets hurt during recess.  In my day, if you fell off the monkey bars during recess, you’d stand up like a tough guy, brush yourself off and go about your day pretending you didn’t just potentially break your wrist.  Nowadays, if a kid gets rope burn from the jump rope accidentally being pulled across his legs by the kid who thinks it’s his turn, he says he’ll have his mom’s lawyer call your mom’s lawyer and somehow it’s all probably the teacher’s fault.  And I’m barely exaggerating about this one.

You are in your groove.  You are teaching solving 2-step equations and it seems like all of your students are engaged.  The kid who never raises his hand, raises it to answer your last question.  You open your mouth to call on him and . . .
You are interrupted by the unscheduled fire drill.  Or if you’re in California, the earthquake drill.  Or if you’re in Arkansas, the tornado drill.  You get the picture.  It’s sad.  Oh, so sad.

8. “But my child always gets straight As.”
In my experience, most parents are reasonable about their child’s grades.  Once in a while, however, there comes a mother (or father) who thinks her child is the coming Messiah.  There is no possible way that he didn’t complete his Reader’s Workshop assignment on time.  There is no possible way that you reminded him 47 times that he needed to get cracking in order to meet his Reader’s Workshop goal.  There is no possible way that he deserves anything less than an A plus, plus.  And if he didn’t get an A plus plus, but rather a C average average, then you must have made a mistake, because this child is special special, NOT average average.   So while you used to be appreciated and lauded as a great teacher, you clearly aren’t one anymore.  And the rest of the year is going to be made very difficult for you, you malevolent, mistaken teacher.

9. “Let’s have a meeting about teaching the common core through realia and every day experiences.”
No matter how you feel about common core (or any of the other initiatives being pushed in your district), it is never fun to hear that there will be yet another meeting scheduled in which you will hear complaints from disgruntled teachers, and the same tired ideas you heard from administrators during your last meeting on the subject.

10. “I know we scheduled our parent-teacher conference weeks ago, but I need to reschedule to late afternoon on Friday.”
Again, the great majority of parents appreciate their children’s teachers and are respectful of their time.  But this is a post about things teacher hate to hear, and this one is at the top of my list.  Some parents think that teachers punch in at 8:15 a.m., get several “breaks” for recess and then go home at 2:15 p.m.  They think that if they want a meeting with the teacher, it’s no big deal, since she must have nothing better to do.  These parents do not realize that you were up til 11:30 p.m. perfecting your math lesson or making it more accessible for kinesthetic learners.  They do not realize that you arrived at school at 7:15 a.m. in order to set up the afternoon science experiment.  They do not realize that you have several students stay after school and hang out in your classroom because they are craving adult attention.  They do not realize that by 4:00 on Friday afternoon you are depleted of all energy and will be lucky if you can stay awake long enough to watch the movie you rented on Vudu that evening.

But you know what?  Even though teachers hate hearing these and many other things, the things that teachers love hearing (to come in a later post) make hearing these zingers well worth it.