If Teachers Had a Nickel for Every Time They Said One of These Things …

We’d all be millionaires.

Things Teachers Say

Chances are you have repeated these phrases more times than you can count (or would like to remember). While we can’t give you a nickel for every time you have to say them, know that you aren’t alone in trying to solve the greatest teacher mystery of all: why can’t the kids just read the directions? Read on for more things teachers say way too often.

“Did you read the directions?”

We have tried every hack, tip, and trick, yet every class we find ourselves asking this question again and again.

“Your pencil is sharp enough.”

I wonder what the record is for the number of times a student sharpened a pencil during class. Five? Twenty? Even if I let my kids sharpen their pencils at the beginning of class, there are endless requests to visit the pencil sharpener. Am I missing something?

“Class isn’t over yet!”

Five minutes before the end of class, every head turns to look at the clock. It’s like the wave at a sports stadium. One student starts to gather papers, books, and supplies. Then, another. Then, another. No matter that you are giving directions and explaining the homework. Yup (see number #1).

“Do you want to teach this class?”

This one is the worst. One of those shake your head, “I can’t believe I said that out loud” moments.  It happens when your kids are super chatty and you can’t get a word in, let alone any instruction. Been there, done that. Not your finest moment, but better luck next time.

“Show your work.”

Oh math teachers, I am thinking of you. You are trying to teach your kids how to think and strategize. How many times has one of your kids said, “but I got the right answer, so why does it matter?” Sigh. Keep fighting the good fight.

“No, you’re not done yet.”

Oh my. This one. You finished your lesson. The kids are working. One kid finishes within the first five minutes. You ask to see the work only to discover that finished means half-way there.

“Can you say more about that?”

We know that building on students’ thinking is a best practice, and that’s why we ask this question all day long. If only we got a response instead of an eye roll or the deer-in-the-headlights stare.

“A sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a period.”

Things Teachers Say

This one is especially close to my heart. I taught English, and I considered tattooing this on my forehead … or at least printing it on a tee-shirt that I never take off.

“Save it for after class.”

Things Teachers Say

If you teach middle school, you know what I am talking about. It turns out that nothing we teach is going to be as interesting as Justin Beiber, a group text, or weekend plans.

“I can’t give you credit if your name is missing.”

If you have a good strategy for this one, please let me know. Nothing is more frustrating than grading a giant stack of papers with missing names.

“You’ve got this!”

Things Teachers Say

This one is worth repeating. Nothing is more important than showing our kids that we care.

Plus, the most surprising things teachers say.

Got more things teachers say? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

If Teachers Had a Nickel for Every Time They Said One of These Things ...

Posted by Julie Mason

Julie Mason is a Senior Editor at WeAreTeachers. She taught middle and high school English, and is a blended and personalized learning instructional coach. She loves reading a book in one sitting, good coffee, and spending time with her husband and sons.

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