As a teacher, what was the most shocking thing you’ve heard another teacher say?

I once had another teacher tell me that she hates children.

Now, in her defense, she is an excellent educator, and the children themselves would NEVER know, but she is just NOT a kid person. When I asked her why she went into teaching, she told me it was because of the hours – she wanted to be done at 3 and go home.

She’s been teaching much longer than I have – more than fifteen years to my four – and she sure does leave when the bell rings.

It frustrates me a bit because I love children, yet do not have the classroom management skills she has, and I sure as shit never get to leave the building at 3. Most days I’m there until six or later and take work home with me on top of it. She just seems to have everything under control more than I do.

I think, though, that I have better relationships with my kids than she does. It causes me more stress, though, because I love every one of them and can REALLY take misbehavior and failure to achieve to heart. Before I met this other teacher, I assumed that all teachers loved kids and that’s why they became teachers, but she’s proved me wrong on that score.

Jennifer Coleman


“I don’t care what they say; I’ll never recommend a man for the position.”

I was sitting in the teacher’s lounge of a school in Batavia, Ohio in 1996 after a grueling round of interviews with the woman who later said this and the woman to whom she was talking – neither of whom saw me sitting there, of course.

I did not receive the job offer.

I guess that’s not too shocking, but it sure took the wind out of the sails of a young, idealistic teacher.

Teaching is no longer my vocation.

Will Clayton


“He’s earnt a D (50–54%) but I can’t give him that, it’ll crush him. So I’ve bumped it to a B (70–74%)”.

We were teaching Year 9 students and the teacher speaking was talking about a boy’s English grade. This teacher was not talking about a single piece of work, as shocking as that would have been. He was talking about the equivalent of a semester grade: the overall mark for a 10 week long subject. I’d been teaching for two years at this point, and was not part of the conversation, just sitting at my desk while the teacher in question was talking to the teacher whose desk was beside mine. I tentatively said, “That’s a huge jump in grades,” to which he replied, “teachers do it all the time”. I was aware that teachers have turned a 49 to a 50 or a 59 to a 60, moving the student up a grade with that 1% bump if the student deserved it, but a 20% jump? Not only were his actions immoral, but they inflated the student’s (and his parents’) understanding of his skills.

The following year I was teaching the same year level of kids in Year 10 English. Strangely, a number of students taught by the two teachers who were involved in that conversation the previous year had gone from being B grade or better students to D students. The students and parents blamed the Year 10 teachers of course, but I knew at whose feet the blame should really have been laid.

Sharyn O’Connell


I don’t know about shocking, but saddening at least.

One of my ex-colleagues (I no longer teach) was frustrated with helping her son out with some math problems. She then – totally non-ironically – questioned the importance of learning to do calculations with fractions, with the classic “When do you ever use that in real life?” line. What was ironic though (though I don’t think she realized the irony), was that she went on to discuss poem analysis with some other colleagues.

Now, I do think both understanding poetry and doing fractional math is important to learn, regardless of how applicable it may or may not be. Both are part of basic Buildung in my world. It’s frustrating when a scienctific discipline is given this assessment by a fellow educator. Not that it doesn’t happen the other way around; science teachers disregarding arts and humanities. Which is equally sad.

We have a bigger picture to paint here!

(BTW, I otherwise have great respect for this teacher. She’s truly a wonderful human being)

Kristian Wichmann


I will have to dig up my journal that I wrote in daily while I was teaching at a particular school. But until I do (it’s buried under piles of teaching boxes) I will relate one of my favorites.

This was in a low socio-economic school district and many of the teachers weren’t adequately trained. So when new regulations came out that required more education for teachers, I daily had to listen to:

“I don’t understand why they are making us get more education!?!” (These are teachers mind you)

And then one teacher said, “They can’t do this! I have kids! What will my children think of me if I have to take classes in the evening!?”

Well, they might see a hard-working mama who values education and then they might go further their education as well when they are adults. Imagine that.

Suzy Burger


As a guest teacher (an emergency teacher who subs when professional educators are not available), we were advised to stay clear of the faculty lounge lest we be shocked by the discussion. But alas one day at a middle school in central PA I took a chance and sat down in the staff lounge to eat my lunch. That’s when I heard a snarky male teacher, bold as brass, proclaim that a specifically-named 7th grade girl was majoring in oral sex. If I had been a “real” teacher who wasn’t worried about my next paycheck, I probably would have told him what I thought of his assessment of a young human being who needed his guidance. But as I recall, the room fell fairly quiet in response. At least the real teachers did not give him an “atta-boy.”

Paula A. Wray


“Back in the old days, we’d get the prefects to take students like him behind the bikeshed and beat the s**t out of him.”

I am fairly sure it was said in jest… I am also fairly sure the teacher in question was not quite old enough to have been teaching in a time when this sort of thing happened…

Still, quite shocking to hear a referral to such informal corporal punishment in a modern school.

I also heard a story from one of my PGCE lecturers from a visit he did to an African state, touring different schools to share practise. Apparently corporal punishment is also very prevalent there still too – including ‘being sent to the head to be beaten with a rubber hose’ A rubber hose… such as famously used by secret police because they do not show marks… on children.

He was obviously as appalled as we were by this…

David Lascelles


  1. As a supply teacher, I’ve sat in school staffrooms where every educator’s deepest interest outside of school seems to be the result of some ghastly TV reality show in which gruesome people throw tantrums and make babies with other people just as gruesome. I’ve been in staffrooms where teachers’ conversation is both inarticulate and vacuous, and every second word is the F word. How do they switch this off in the classroom, and if they can switch it off, why don’t they switch it off permanently? And should teaching be the sort of job where you will manage better if you’re not a thinking person?


    1. I did not realize that teachers had to be robots in the staff room and in their personal lives as well. They can “shut off” the swearing, etc., when in front of students because they know better, just like I would *hope* many parents would do the same. Why should teachers be held to such a high standard that they can’t watch what they want to watch, read what they want to read, say what they want to say when not in front of students or at home? That’s a ridiculous notion.


      1. It’s not that I think people shouldn’t watch what they want to watch, but it would be nice if the job left teachers with enough mental energy and curiosity to watch non-trash TV, which it doesn’t. This of course is one of the many reasons I’m part-time. As for swearing, it’s unnecessary and inappropriate wherever you are, including a staffroom.


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