The Teacher Report: 7 Crazy Things People Say to Teachers (and How to Respond)
If there’s one thing we know about teaching, it’s that very few people know what it’s like to work with 20 (okay, 35) students, day in and day out, in an attempt to meet a long list of individual and corporate educational goals. Simple, right? So some people call teaching glorified babysitting. Others repeat that irksome phrase “Those who can, do, and those who can’t…” (Ugh, we can’t even bring ourselves to finish that one.) That’s why, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7–11), we’re offering seven comebacks to the craziest things people say to teachers. Next time you get hit with one of these beauties, we hope you’ll be prepared!
1. The comment: “It must be nice to have summers off.”
The comeback: “Actually, I’m not out of the classroom until late June and I have to go back in early August. During my five weeks ‘off,’ I will be mapping out curriculum for the next year, cleaning and organizing my classroom, and catching up on professional reading. Of course, some summers I also take on a temp job earn a little extra cash. So what do you say…want to trade places?”
2. The comment: “Oh! You teach kindergarten? How nice to play with finger paints and glitter all day!”
The comeback: “Yes, we finger paint in kindergarten…not to mention learn the fundamentals of reading, math, science, and social behavior that will set the stage for the next twelve years of learning. But sure, finger painting is fun!”
The comeback: “Yeah, cause teaching 30+ kids about nuclear engineering/art/writing is a breeze! Teaching certainly isn’t a ‘fallback’ job, but if you have the desire and commitment to put 50 plus hours a week toward a group of diverse learners, please consider it. We always need more passionate teachers.”
4. The comment: “I don’t understand why teachers object to merit pay. At every other job, you get paid what you’re worth.”
The comeback: “I’m not opposed to being paid what I’m worth. The trouble is defining the value of a good teacher by test scores. Unless, of course, you think your SAT score was the ultimate predictor of your worth.”
5. The comment: “Johnny NEVER misbehaves/has trouble paying attention/hits other kids/acts out at home. I wonder what you’re doing in the classroom to make that happen.”
The comeback: “That is strange that Johnny has such different behavior in the classroom. Let’s figure out a way to get to the bottom of this. You’re welcome to observe my teaching any time you want. When can I come to your house?”
6. The comment: “It can’t be that hard to control a classroom of 28 students. Just have clear expectations.”
The comeback: “If it were that simple, I’d have my classroom rules tattooed on every kid’s arm. The reality is, a lot goes into classroom management. But if you have any magic behavior spells, please share them! I’d love to know.”
7. The comment: “I bet it’s nice to have a cafeteria where you can get lunch right on campus.”
The comeback: “Do you like irradiated meat?” Enough said.
Question for you: What are your favorite teacher comebacks? How do you respond to irritating (if well-meaning) comments from friends, neighbors, and others who don’t know what it’s like to do your job?
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