10 Things Teachers Think (But Don’t Say) During Staff Meetings

Can’t we all just go home?

Black woman in white shirt making a bored expression in front of a white background

I see you, fellow teacher, sitting in the back of the faculty, department, or staff meeting. It’s the end of the day in the middle of a really long year, you’re exhausted, and the thoughts in your head aren’t exactly positive and glowing. You’ve got a million things to do before you can go to sleep tonight and sitting in this meeting isn’t even close to being the most important on that list. Some administrators have gotten the message and are making sure to only hold meetings when truly necessary, providing snacks, and valuing teacher time. Others, however, are still making teachers suffer through meetings that really should have been emails.

With that in mind, here’s a helpful guide for keeping anything you say sounding professional and upbeat, even if what you’re thinking isn’t quite so cheerful.

1. When they try to make you sit beside people you don’t normally sit with…

European woman hiding her face in her shirt in front of white background

What you want to say: 

“I work with kids all day long. Some days I don’t even see another adult until 3:30 p.m., and now you’re telling me I can’t sit beside the people I want to during this meeting? No. No way. I’m leaving!”

Try instead:

“While it would be great to collaborate with the people with whom I work best, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get to know the teachers I never see or work with on a day-to-day basis.”

2. When they say they should be able to get you out of the staff meeting a little early…

Black man in bright pink shirt with an incredulous expression on his face in front of a light pink background

What you want to say:

“Oh, yeah? We were supposed to get out of the last eight meetings early, but each time you talked for 20 minutes about things that could have been covered in an email.”


Try instead:

“Wow, that would be wonderful. It’s always nice to have a few extra minutes at home with my family. I hope we can make that work.”

3. When they try to “liven things up” by making you play an icebreaker game…

Black woman in a yellow sweater with an disgusted expression standing in front of a bright blue background

What you want to say:

“I sang, danced, cheered, cajoled, begged, and entertained children for eight hours today in a mask to help them learn. No, I do not want to play a fun get-to-know-you game in this staff meeting right now!”

Try instead:

“It’s always interesting to see how our students might feel when we ask them to do things like this, and it definitely is worth the 15 minutes of meeting time we’re spending on this game!”

4. When they start lecturing about people getting a little “lax” with the dress code…

Woman in white shirt rolling her eyes in front of pink background

What you want to say:

“We get here early each day, have recess, lunch, and bus duty; stay late to tutor and are on the ground, standing on chairs, in the halls, and running around trying to get these kids to learn. But you want to make an issue of how often we wear golf shirts or capri pants to work? Are you serious?”

Try instead:

“I understand the need to maintain a professional environment. However, this does need to be balanced with the physical expectations of the job.”

5. When they hint that teachers need to consider the substitute shortage before calling in sick…

Black woman making a "no" gesture by crossing her arms in front of her chest

What you want to say:

“I will not put my health or the health of a family member in jeopardy because our school district won’t do what it needs to in order to attract and retain substitute teachers, and frankly, it’s gross that you would ask me to.”

Try instead:

“That’s an interesting suggestion. I think perhaps the teachers should look at schedules to see if we can come up with a way to meet the needs of our students while still maintaining our contractually mandated planning time.”

6. When they tell you just how many days this summer you will be expected to attend mandatory PD…

Asian woman with a shocked expression on her face standing in front of a bright yellow background

What you want to say:

“Are you freakin’ kidding me?!?!?!”

Try instead:

“I’m sure those days will be well-planned and valuable. I will have to see if those dates work with my family’s already-set travel plans.”

7. When they try to use technology and fail miserably…

Black woman holding cell phone smirking in front of a light blue background

What you want to say:

“Remember last week during my informal observation? The Wi-Fi wasn’t working, and you wrote in my evaluation, ‘In the future, it would be wise to have a backup plan for when technology fails.’ Remember that? Yeah, I didn’t think so.”

Try instead:

“Technology. Am I right?”

8. When they ask for everyone to quiet down, but the teachers around you are still talking…

White man making the "lips sealed" sign with his mouth and fingers in front of a bright pink background

What you want to say: 

“It’s not me! I’m not talking! I just want the meeting to get started so it can be over and I can go home!”

Try instead:

Nothing. You keep kids quiet and on-task all day long. It’s their turn now.

9. When they imply more teachers might be sharing classrooms next year…

White woman blowing out her cheeks in frustration in front of a bright red background

What you want to say:

“Okay, there is no way I am sharing a classroom next year. I have seniority. I shared a classroom five years ago. It’s someone else’s turn. Don’t even think about putting someone in my room!”

Try instead:

“Can you explain how the decision about who will share rooms will be made?”

10. When they announce that the meeting is cancelled because all info can be covered with an email…

Overjoyed Black woman in a patterned dress in front of a bright yellow background

What you want to say:

“Oh, thank the teaching gods! I can’t believe they actually listened to what we were saying and took our needs into consideration! It feels so good to be respected like this!

Try instead:

“Thank you for this. I will read the email thoroughly and let you know if I have any questions. Have a great afternoon.”

Let us know if we missed any essential positive communication translations in the comments!

What are your favorite tips for surviving a particularly boring staff meeting? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, 20 Teacher Personalities You Can Spot at Every Faculty Meeting

10 Things Teachers Think (But Don't Say) During Staff Meetings