Teachers Share the Words and Phrases That Drive Them Crazy

We’ve all heard them, and no matter how often, they still drive us nuts.

A purple word cloud of all the words or phrases that teachers dislike.

We’ve all heard them. Those words and phrases that make you cringe. Maybe it’s “my bad,” “no problem,” or “kiddos.” But, there are just some words and phrases that sound like fingers on a chalkboard. We asked teachers to share what words and phrases drive them crazy. And we got some answers that might make you shudder.


I feel “self-care” has turned into another way to beat people up. Like it’s not the system’s fault that this is impossible; it’s your fault because you’re not performing self-care the way you should so you can chew gum walk on a tight rope over Niagara while on fire without stressing out. —Rebecca R.

Amen. It also absconds culpability. —Dave N.


“No problem” and “My bad”

“No problem” when it should be “you’re welcome.” —Lori F.


“My bad”… it doesn’t even make sense!! It’s terrible language and not appropriate for school. —Lana L.

When I say, “thank you,” and the response is, “no problem.” Just bothers me. —Andrea G.


EVERYONE in my school says this and it bugs me all day long. I’ve told a couple of other people, and they look at me like I’m crazy. I’m not even sure WHY it bugs me. —Kristen L.

I hate the cutesy made up word “kiddos” too. Makes my hair stand on end when I hear it! —Sharon P.

“It is what it is”

“it is what it is” makes the hairs on my neck stand up. —Barb W.

It is what it is! That’s not okay with me! I became a teacher to help kids. Not to hear we can’t do anything about it. Or to hear, “but that is how we always do it, even if it doesn’t work or isn’t right.” It’s time to make some changes and beat the system! —Clookey A.

“Let’s put the kids first”

I hear “Let’s put the kids first” and, just … NO. Putting the kids first should be the focus; it’s doing what’s BEST for the KIDS—and actually doing it, not just talking about it—is what needs to happen. But then, the folks (who likely haven’t been in a classroom since they were 18) who make and enforce policies would have to listen to us, and we all know how that would go… —Leah C.

The trouble is that there’s really no ONE way that is best for ALL kids… —Leslie M.

“What the!”

When I hear, “WHAT THE?” or “Friggin'” when they don’t even know what they’re really saying! Both have become popular comments in the classroom, and I have to tell them that this is no appropriate language without saying the “F” word! —Laura W.

I used to ask my kids to finish that phrase, first and second graders, and when they wouldn’t (because they didn’t know or did know and it was not ok) I would say, “If you can’t finish it then it’s no appropriate for you to be saying it.” —Natausha E.

“Teach intentionally”

Like what am I doing up here all day? Just randomly choosing subject matter out of the air and talking about it, and starting a worksheet, but I’m bored with that, so now I want to talk about Oooooh pumpkins! Yesss! It’s October! And also witches! And candy! Also, let’s read a story!!! —Megan D.

“Think outside the box”

This phrase has been overused so much that students think the only time they should think creatively is when told to “think outside the box.” We have to quit telling kids there is a box! By using this phrase we are actually boxing them in—there is NO BOX! —Margie H.


If you look up the definition of rigor, it is very obvious that there is NO place for that word in education, especially elementary education. —Mandi D.

I especially hate when I hear it used with teaching kindergarten students. —Diane R.


When people use the word literally. Grinds my gears!! —Missy F.

When my kids say literally, I always ask them, “is that literally or figuratively?” Earns me a lot of eye rolls, but I noticed it did get them to stop using that word so much. —Becky M.

What words and phrases do you think drive teachers crazy when they hear them? Hop over to our WeAreTeachers Facebook page and let us know!

Plus, 10 Grammar Mistakes & 10 Lessons to Fix Them

Teachers Share the Words and Phrases That Drive Them Crazy