No, Actually, We’re Not Sorry—Things Teachers Need to Stop Apologizing For

I will stop apologizing for having to pee.

Choosing "teachable moments" over curriculum. Choosing students' questions and interests over lesson plans.

Last year, it felt like I was calling students’ homes more often than ever before. Attendance issues, grades, behavior problems, even the positive calls I try so hard to make each week, all took up a huge amount of time after school. During one of these call sessions, I noticed that I started each call with, “I’m so sorry to bother you ….” The realization was startling. Why am I saying “sorry” for wanting to discuss someone’s child with them? I immediately promised myself to stop apologizing for communicating with parents and guardians. I wasn’t bothering them; I was doing my job. Soon after, I began to realize just how often we, as educators, apologize for things that we don’t need to feel sorry about.

WeAreTeachers asked you to tell us the things you feel teachers should stop apologizing for. Here’s what you said:

Placing value on our own health and wellness

Taking a half day (or full day!) off for doctors appointments. It's not our fault that doctors only schedule appointments between 8:00 and 3:00. When are we supposed to take care of our own health??

  • Eating lunch. Going to the bathroom. —Emily R.
  • Missing a day of work for a vacation. —Michael L.
  • Leaving on time. —Joni H.
  • Having bodily functions. —Kelly H.

Taking personal days. No, I'm not sick, but I have things that I would like to do that do not fall within a weekend or during a break. Life happens all the time, not just during winter, spring, and summer breaks.

Having responsibilities to family/loved ones

Missing a day to go on a field trip with your own kindergarten child, so they feel loved and safe.

  • Putting your own family first. —Alison W.
  • Spending time with family. —Desiree L.
  • Not having additional tutoring times because they have a family. —Deidra M.
  • Saying sorry to your family because you have to do work for school, and then feeling like you have to apologize for not doing schoolwork while spending time with your family. —Jason M.

Taking care of your own family. My sister has had fellow teachers and parents tell her she needed to do less for our elderly parents.

Trusting our professional judgment

Teaching personal responsibility. Listen, if you want to go digging into your kid's backpack every day for papers, that's your business. But in my classroom, I've already reminded him several times to go get his homework and turn it in. If he doesn't follow through, that's on him. Don't be mad at me for having reasonable expectations.

  • Having high standards and expectations. If you raise the bar and let your students know you believe in them, they will excel! —Kathy Perry B.
  • Not responding to messages from parents outside of normal school days or during time with my family. It happens with ridiculous regularity, and parents often expect an answer immediately. —Cassandra L.
  • Planning a lesson/unit sequence that is mentally/emotionally sustainable for us and avoids burnout from trying to teach at 100mph every single day of the school year. —Trisha Leann W.
  • For not covering a class with no lesson plans. I’m not a babysitter, and I’m not that broke to get stressed out trying to entertain 35 kids I don’t even know. Been shamed multiple times for it. —Demetria C.

Challenging and speaking up against school decisions that affect student growth and happiness.

The culture in our classrooms

Teaching the true version of America's history.

  • Poor student behavior. If the teacher has built relationships, taught and retaught expectations and contacted parents, then they have done their job. —Tony R.
  • Having a noisy classroom. —KJ D.
  • Taking time to check in with students. —Christina R.
  • Caring for each child and taking the time to build relationships. —Joe G.

Standing up for trans students.

Who we are

My accent. I moved from the Chicagoland area to Missouri. Two weeks ago I had a mom call to tell I needed to change the way I talk because her daughter did not like my accent. Needless to say the rest of that phone did not go well...

  • Having emotions. Not being positive 100% of the time. —Katie Allen D.
  • Being LGBTQ+, teaching students that you can be successful if you take any sort of alternate path, and teaching empathy. —Phoenix M.
  • Having a bad day, needing to cry, not being stronger. —Elizabeth N.
  • I’m a very sensitive person. I take the mean things my students say to each other and to me to heart, and it hurts. Fellow teachers have told me I need to toughen up, but I don’t think getting upset by cruelty is a bad thing. —Alicia M.

Being Human. We all go through our own personal stuff in our lives, yet we put on a smile and force ourselves to get through a day!

What else should teachers stop apologizing for? Join our conversation on the WeAreTeachers Facebook page and let us know.

No, Actually, We're Not Sorry—Things Teachers Need to Stop Apologizing For