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The 12 Things You Should Never, Ever Say To Teachers

Let me say up top here that I am NOT a teacher — I found this on a blog (listed below) that is all about and by teachers, however. And it's the kind of thing I hope gets legs so that people stop asking these kinds of silly questions. Oh, and next time your state wants to cut the pay and benefits of teachers, speak up!

The 12 Things You Should Never, Ever Say To Teachers
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1. “We’ve all been to elementary school, so aren’t we all kind of experts on it?”


Umm, no. You’ve been sick before, does that make you a doctor?


2. “When I retire, I still want to do something, so I think I might take up teaching.”

Teaching is not a hobby, like gardening or sailing. Teaching will likely make your old job feel like a vacation.


3. “Have you ever thought about making your class more fun?”

No, I do my best to make it as boring as I can.



4. “If you really cared about kids, you wouldn’t worry about the salary.”

I love my students. I love teaching. I also love being able to support my family and feed my kids.


5. “If you managed your time at school, I bet you wouldn’t need to plan lessons and grade on the weekends.”

Okay, I’m a little busy at school. I teach and work with students almost every moment of the day. Spending 20 hours a week outside of school on prep and grading every week is normal for me.


6. “You’ll never be a truly great teacher until you have your own kids.”

Actually, yes I will. The relationship between teacher and student is quite different from that of parent and child.


7. “Why do you make them read so much and write so many essays? Why do you give such hard grades?”

Because it’s my job. Because my students are here to learn. Because they’ll need these skills to survive in the world. How many reasons do you need?


8. “I pay taxes in this district, so technically you work for me.”

Sorry, we’re not your minions. That’s not how it works. Taxes support public goods and services—such as the fire department, police, parks, and yes, public schools—for the community as a whole. And by the way, teachers pay taxes too.


9. “Ohh, you teach kindergarten, that must be fun. Playing and singing all day.”

Yes, my life is just like Disney movie. I sing and the children and the little animals of the forest come running. Actually, in kindergarten, we teach our students the foundational literacy and math skills—as well as the social and emotional skills—that set kids up for success in every grade to follow.


10. “Why are you so strict? They’re just kids.”

We make plenty of time for laughter and fun in my classroom. Rules and routine are not only necessary, they help children to feel safe, secure and valued in the classroom community.


11. “How hard can it be? You have all summer off.”

A longer summer break is one of the benefits of choosing teaching as a career. But keep in mind, it’s not all summer, I spend weeks every July and August on professional development and curriculum planning. And during the school year, I work 12 hours a day all week long and at least one day every weekend. Add it up and our vacation days are about the same.


12. “Teaching is nice, but don’t you want to be more successful and make more money?”

I teach because I want to make a difference. I teach because what I do every day matters for kids.

That’s what success looks like.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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This article originally appeared on 08.30.14


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