Teachers Reveal The Classroom Secrets They’d Never Tell Their Students
Teachers rarely get the credit they deserve. They dedicate their time and energy to educating children and teenagers but seldom get thanked for it. On top of feeling underappreciated, they deal with a long list of daily obstacles. Among that list is making sure that their students always feel protected and are receiving the best education they can possibly give them.
However, sometimes there are things the students are better off not knowing. At the end of the day, teachers are human beings, too. They often know more than they usually let on, or are even allowed to admit. Just ask these teachers, who recently took to the internet to reveal some of the darkest classroom secrets they would never tell their students.
#1 Tired Of The Pet
I am no longer a teacher, but I remember several days that I felt lazy and wanted to give the class the day off. I never did because I knew the teacher’s pet would rat me out. Sometimes, trying to be the teacher’s pet actually does the opposite effect of turning the teacher away from you. You don’t need to try so hard to impress your teacher; just be yourself and go with the flow.
#2 Strategic Arrangement
Yes, we have a new seating chart… and yes, I sat you next to her because I can tell you have a crush on her. I noticed you try harder on your work when she is around, and to be honest… you two would make a cute couple. We work long hours, we don’t really get paid that much and we don’t necessarily get the respect we feel we deserve. So we might as well have fun with our jobs!
#3 The Golden Rule
I’d let you get away with so much more if you were actually a decent person who treated others with kindness and respect. Jerks rarely get the benefit of the doubt or indifference. It’s a weird balance, though. No teacher wants to help a kid who actively chooses to cause trouble; however, it’s those very kids who teachers hope to have the most positive influence on. We love the challenge off helping students become better versions of themselves.
#4 Language Barriers
I teach middle school in Taiwan. My students are 60% ESL, 30% Intermediate English Proficiency, and 10% Native Fluency. I only have 42 students, so this number is pretty on the money). I want to tell them this: I’m not an idiot. When you are ridiculing me in Chinese, I know which ones you’re using. Don’t act surprised when I give you detention for calling me “bendan” (jerk) or “baichi” (idiot). I know what you’re saying, ugh!
#5 Scheduling Small Talk
When you think you are being a genius by getting me to talk about random things at the beginning of class instead of “teaching,” I’m really allowing it to happen because I don’t have enough planned to cover a full class. Like, I will literally keep talking on purpose because I’m the one who’s not prepared for class. You’re not slick, I am… The joke’s really on you!
#6 Decisions Versus Dreams
Trying hard is necessary, but not sufficient for most accomplishments. I try to see the potential in all my students and always inspire them to try their best, I really do. But there’s not a lot I can do for a student is dedicated to hiding their intelligence by trying to appear lazy. At the same time, there’s not much I can do for a student who tries to fake a higher intelligence by acting like a know-it-all.
#7 Looking The Other Way
Teachers have way better hearing than you assume. We just choose our battles. Sometimes, it’s just not worth making a situation out of a snarky comment or remark. Other times, I pretend not to see that thing you did just because I too found it humorous, and speaking to you about it would only result in me cracking up, and if you can get me to crack up, I lose and you win.
#8 Learning To Think
You don’t need anything I teach you to be successful in life. For example, math is about learning to think, not graphing functions and solving equations.
#9 Playing Around
To my freshmen: Yes, I always know when you didn’t do my math because you stayed up late playing Fortnite, you added me as a friend on Epic so I see that. Also, the amount of homework not done and lower grades when new battle passes come out is just too coincidental. To a specific freshman, I support your desire to become a streamer, but editing videos should not keep you away from your homework for a whole week.
To all high schoolers I teach: you’re dumb, but I do love you guys. I’m not stupid; I know you cheat on your homework. But I don’t care since it’s only worth 10% of your grade. And finally, to the 6th graders I teach math to: Dear Lord, you make me cringe so hard I have to take ibuprofen some days. Multiple times.
I have so much more, but my lunch break is almost over.
#10 Kinder Cares
I would honestly tell my little kindergartners that life is tough. I need them to understand how important their education is for a better life. But I’m a male teacher in early childhood. Keeping a good amount of distance is very important, and I can’t afford to have a parent go all mama bear on me. So I just do my best to make them feel valued in my class.
#11 A Shoulder To Lean On
I teach middle school and I know some students have it pretty bad at home. I see it every day in my class. I see the tears they’re hiding; the pain behind their class clown smiles; the emotional fragility behind their tough-guy personas. I know exactly what it’s like to come from a broken home. I wish I could do something, but until they come to me, all I can do is try and let them know, with a look, a smile, a subtle turn of phrase, that I’m always there for them when they need an ear or a shoulder.
#12 Just End It With Jamie
I teach summer school for a year and I want so badly to tell them that: Now is a great time to find out who they are and to stop parroting what they hear other people say. They don’t need to try so hard to get other kids to like them. Even though Dave and Jamie have been friends since kindergarten, people growing apart is normal (and Jamie is a manipulative minge muffin anyway).
I keep the troublemakers close to me in class because they just need a little more attention than others. They just need someone to listen to. And lastly, this week’s crisis won’t matter next year or maybe even next week. The bad times don’t last forever; you’ll make it through.
#13 Bored With The Books
I hate the textbooks as much as my students, but everyone just shrugs when I suggest changing them up! I’m sorry they made us keep that awful book on the list. I genuinely offer to buy them all back from students so I could burn them. I don’t even have the heart to tell them what university is like: $500 textbooks that you will only use for four months, then never again? They’re the worst.
#14 Great Expectations
A few off the top of my head: Just because I like you as a person, doesn’t mean that I won’t fail you. Being smart isn’t a justification for being lazy and I can’t pass someone who never hands in work. I moved you away from your friends because they were taking you down with them. You have a real future in sports but you need to pass my class to play them. Your friends were making you fail and, if you don’t get to play volleyball, I don’t know what kind of future you have in front of you.
I wish that the positivity that you get in my class could follow you home. I’ve met your parents and they are a nightmare. I do my best to encourage you here but I know that some days, that just might not be enough. I have never and will never find a student intimidating. That’s why I laughed at you when you asked me if I “knew who your father was.” Yeah, he’s the manager of a car dealership; that means nothing to nobody. I had a kid throw a desk at me once and while it scared me at the moment, it didn’t make me fear him. One day, you will meet someone who has real power and I just wish that I could be there to see it.
#15 Be Smart Online
If you are stupid enough to have filmed yourself doing something that can get you in trouble, especially legal trouble, for the love of God don’t post it online. It’s hard to tell them this because plenty of them might see it as my stamp of approval for their misbehavior, so long as they don’t get caught. In this case, I think it’s better not to plant the seed in the first place.
#16 Busy Body
One of the most valuable lessons I can teach you is to fake looking busy. If we’re supposed to be working on an assignment or reading and you see me coming your way, at the least have a piece of paper on your desk and a pen in your hand. Then I won’t bother you. If you have nothing going on and can’t even be bothered to make it look like you’re trying, I’ll be headed your way. This lesson will be invaluable someday.
#17 Playing Favorites
Yes, I do have favorite students. No, I won’t tell you who they are because that would discourage you, but yes they’re probably who you imagine them to be. Also, they’re my favorites for a reason—if you suspect you’re not one of my favorites, you probably aren’t and there’s probably a valid reason for it. Want to get on my good side? Take some notes from the good ones.
#18 The Hard Truth
You’re not going to be YouTube famous. Put away your phone and stop filming yourself. Just sit the heck down and listen, because what I tell you in the classroom can get you really far.
#19 The Cheating Test
I knew you were cheating so I gave you a test with the answers in a different order for the rest of the semester. You clearly weren’t bright enough to figure it out, and yes I am that spiteful. It was easier for me to do that than report the cheating. It was also a lot more fun. Take that as a lesson learned: if you try to mess with me, it really won’t end well for you.
#20 Passing On The Problem
I encourage my worst kids more than my favorites not because I like that challenge, but because I just don’t want them back in my class next year. I’ve had repeat students before and as much as I tried to be their saving grace, some of them just don’t want to be saved. It’s unfair to the students who are actually trying their best because they end up not getting the same amount of attention from me.
#21 Giving It A Minute
I’m not saying I liked fights in my classroom. I’m just saying I might have taken a little longer to react when the bully was finally getting what he deserved. Also, thanks to all my students who would have my back. I appreciate you guys screaming, “HEY, Y’ALL JERKS! SHUT THE HECK UP. MR. IS TRYNA TEACH!” I had to look a little disappointed, but deep down I was so proud of you.
#22 Recognizing The Robotics Club
I’m an evening janitor. I clean where the robotics club gathers and works. You guys are so amazing. I wish you could see what I see. A group of kids who are well mixed in ethnicity and gender working hard together. I never see signs of drama when I walk by. When I look through the windows, I can see that you guys are listening to each other and treating each other seriously, while also having fun.
When you guys leave at night, your room is my favorite room to clean. It’s always so clean already and I get to look at your projects and see what all that elbow grease is doing. It’s so encouraging to know that these kids are part of our future. They stay an average of two hours after school every day and you can tell it’s not forced. They are so enthusiastic that their energy practically shines into the hallway. I celebrate every time a new award is added to the trophy cabinet in the hall.
#23 On Your Own Time
I don’t care if you try things, but do it on your own time. I get it, you have anxiety. I wish you had a better coping mechanism but I’m glad you’re doing SOMETHING rather than avoiding school, etc. Just please, please, PLEASE don’t give me a reason to send you to the nurse or the dean. Learn some practical skills. We all have to at some point, so you might as well start early.
#24 Private Evils
I’m really sorry. Your parents put you in this elite private school because they think they can protect you from all the evils of the outside world… including responsibility. You aren’t getting any of the skills you will need to function as an adult. I’m doing the best, I can but my hands are tied by the school. At some point, you’re going to have to carry some of the weight.
#25 Smart Eventually Becomes Sexy
When you’re young, knowing stuff is not something you’d consider cool. To a lot of your peers, people who know lots of facts are annoying as heck. But there’ll come a time when you’ll be surrounded by smart and interesting people, and you’ll understand that at that moment, you should have paid more attention in class. They say smart isn’t sexy, but it really is.
#26 Run Away
From your former high school science teacher: Your small town is ruining you. RUN. Run away as FAR as you can.
#27 Teacher’s Lounge
There’s a high chance I hate the teachers you love to complain about just as much as you do. I walked into the lounge the other day to one coworker (who is well-known and hated amongst the student body) scarfing down leftover Taco Bell in a Tupperware with a fork right over my bag and papers. He saw me catch him in the act and he didn’t even apologize. Stupid Greg.
#28 Struggling Artists
I was an art teacher. So broke and underpaid. My roommate was another teacher. I really wanted to tell the ones that wanted to go to an arts university how low-paying the job market is. Like, the salaries are below minimum wage, and free internships are rampant. The art world is a rich kids game, y’ all. If you don’t have daddy’s wallet to support you, don’t do it.
#29 Two-Way Detention
I don’t like you. I don’t want to spend extra time with you. I want to go home. But I can’t let the rest of the class see you get away with unacceptable stuff. So if I ask you to move seats, or stop talking, and you have a temper tantrum like a toddler, you are forcing me to set detention that I do NOT want to supervise. If you had done what I’d asked, I’d have pretended not to hear you complain about me under your breath for the rest of the lesson. Honestly, it’s not a big deal to me until YOU try to turn it into a powerplay, which you have no chance of winning.
#30 Closed Off
As a male teacher, I can’t be the best teacher I want to be. I want to be able to have private conversations with my students, but I’ll always ask to keep the door open or have another student in hearing distance. I want to give you a hug and say, “I’m sorry,” after you’ve told me about something terrible that has happened with your home life, but you’ll have to settle for me just talking to you.
I feel terrible having to ignore your personal messages or texts when you ask me important questions. Because I am a man, I’m terrified of doing something that somehow gets misunderstood. I don’t want to be fired from my job over a misunderstanding. I don’t want to be branded as something horrible for the rest of my life as a result. And so, I’ll always be closed off from my students.
#31 Teacher Lies
I lied to you when I said I was 40. I was actually only 21 and I was only a couple of years older than you. I’ve seen you at the club and I’ve seen you partying. Furthermore, I have run into you in public way more times than you realize, but half the time I run away, and the other half of the time you catch me before I can. Also, when I was at the mall, the guy you pointed to was just a random Tinder date I just met; he was definitely not my boyfriend.
#32 Messy System
Middle school teacher here: My school is a mess. The administration and some of the teachers have no idea what they’re doing. I’m just trying to survive until I can get into a place where the systems work reliably. It sucks because the students end up suffering from the effects of the messy system. I don’t understand how the school managed to keep up its charades for so long.
#33 Worrying A Lot
I worry about them. A lot. I worry about how they’re being treated at home, especially if their family culture conflicts with their values or identity. There are some kids who stay at school for extra help every day they can, in part to escape whatever is going on in their lives at home. In particular, I have one student who apologies for everything. “Sorry I am inconveniencing you, miss,” or “Sorry I don’t understand this, I’m so dumb.” I can only imagine how he is treated at home, and I’m terrified that he will end up in a bad place.
I worry that, if I am fortunate enough to work in this field for the rest of my career, I will have a student pass away, and I don’t know how I will be able to handle that. I have heard statistics (whether or not they are true) that as many as one in three African American men will be incarcerated at some point in their lives. If it is indeed true, it means some of my current kids will end up in prison. They are all such good kids and the thought that one of them might find themselves in that situation—either through a lack of options or a broken system—haunts me.
Some of you can be pains in the butt at times, but I love ya.
#34 Heavy Workloads
We get just as stressed out as our students do about workload and deadlines. We take no satisfaction in giving failing grades, and in many cases, it can make us sick with stress when a kid doesn’t get acceptable grades (especially when you can tell that they try). We appear happy and engaged (most days) but we are walking a tight rope of decision making: “What part of my work can I put off tonight so that I can spend a few minutes with my wife and kids,” etc.
#35 Not-So-Sneaky Snapchatters
I’m only five years older than my students right now (I have seniors and I’m 22). Not only can I tell you’re on your phone because I can see the blue Snapchat banner a mile away and know what the alert sounds like, but I’ve also tried to get away with everything you’re trying to get away with once before. It’s like watching a bad sequel. You can’t try to sneak technology past someone else in your generation. Also, just because I don’t say something doesn’t mean I didn’t see it. I just recognize that I can’t make you care about class and I don’t have the energy (or the time) to try.
#36 Not Failing Out Of Spite
No, Breyden, you don’t have an F minus because I hate you. You have an F because even though you’re here every day, you spend your time complaining on Instagram about how much you don’t want to be there instead of finishing your work that I have given more than enough time in class to complete. In the meantime, Susie over here, a student who struggles with English, has aced every test. Ryan over here is on the spectrum, yet he comes in after class every day to ask questions and get help on assignments.
You, on the other hand, only came once to discuss your grade: today, the day after the last day of the term. A little too late.
Oh, and there’s Andrea over here that deals with crippling depression. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. But she’s attentive, focused, and has the biggest grin on her face when she finally understands the day’s concept. Thank goodness she was able to concentrate over your laughing during my lesson. Yeah, just leave me alone and let me finish up the grades for students that actually will achieve something in their life.
#37 Cringeworthy Content
I intentionally reference outdated memes because I know you are more likely to remember content associated with things that made you cringe.
#38 Raising Standards
I’d tell the girls, “Stop dating that guy. You’re intelligent, ambitious, and talented. He’s a dead-eyed sociopath who got kicked off the football team for driving under the influence. You could easily run a Fortune 500 company, but if you marry this guy you’ll be living in a trailer park taking care of this soggy unappreciative jerk for the rest of your life.” You’ve got to warn them early. Too many times I see women not live up to their full potential because they’re being dragged down by a man. Most of the time they take it well, but there are some girls who don’t want to listen and then it’s no longer in my hands.
#39 Seeing Eye-To-Eye
That kid you all make fun of? Even after I look you all in the eye and tell you to be compassionate because you don’t know what’s happening in other people’s lives? He has autism. I can’t tell you because of the law, and he doesn’t want me to. His case just isn’t so “bad” that you can immediately tell he has it. He’s not so different from you; he’s just a little bit awkward and sometimes exaggerates things. His father also passed away a couple of months ago, so he has one less person in his life who treats him like a human. Give him a break.
#40 Teacher Tears
They’ve made me cry on many occasions.
#41 Leaving The Nest
I’ve taught most of you for seven years. I’ve seen you grow from children to young adults. Watching you leave in June will be as painful as watching my own children leave because you are my children. It’s the most bittersweet thing about the profession. It’s actually hard for me to look forward to the next batch of students because I’ve grown so attached to you guys.
#42 Dirty Secret
You need to bathe. Deodorant is a thing. You smell, and that is why I never offer to help you.
#43 Standard Procedure
About 80% of the stuff we teach you has no real-world application, but someone put questions on a standardized test that you have to answer correctly or I lose my job, so here we are.
#44 Final Word From Network Admin
I’m not a teacher but I work in a school as the network admin. Everything you do on the network I can see. If you want privacy, use your cellular data—not the school network. I’m not saying this from some creepy point of view, I’m saying that this is basic stuff that you all seem not to grasp. I can also easily get into all your accounts. I see your terrible memes, your dramas, and I also know who runs the school troll Instagram account (it’s quite funny, by the way).
When you suddenly find yourselves able to play Fortnite two weeks before the end of the term, it’s not because “the firewall is broken.” I will, of course, be scandalized and take a few days to fix it. The firewall will break again towards the end of next term.
Finally, I would like to directly address James in Grade 11. James: That nasty misogynist stuff that you had been pushing around in your little gang… Well, you didn’t accidentally leave your account logged in. I shared it, like you, to the staff group, because I dislike your attitude and I hate the way you hurt people to make yourself feel better. Of course, the official line was that we were “hacked” and I’m sorry to all the Russians I blamed for it. I did smile for the rest of the day but I also sincerely hope you are now getting the help you need.
With regards to your teachers, they don’t complain about you in the staff room. They don’t talk about many of you individually much at all, but when they do, it’s because they are worried about you.