What Teachers Should Never Say or Do

what teachers should never say or do
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Teachers are not perfect. We make mistakes and occasionally we exercise poor judgment. In the end, we are human. There are times that we are simply overwhelmed. There are times we lose focus. There are times we cannot remember why we choose to stay committed to this profession. These things are human nature. We will err from time to time. We are not always at the top of our game.

With that said, there are several things that teachers should never say or do. These things are detrimental to our mission, they undermine our authority, and they create barriers that should not exist. As teachers, our words and our actions are powerful. We have the power to transform, but we also have the power to tear apart. Our words should always be chosen carefully. Our actions must be professional at all times. Teachers have an awesome responsibility that should never be taken lightly. Saying or doing these ten things will have a negative impact on your ability to teach.

5 Things Teachers Should Never Say

Words can wound, and sharp comments from teachers can have a lifetime negative impact on students, as these phrases to avoid make clear.

“I Don’t Care If My Students Like Me.”

As a teacher, you had better care whether or not your students like you. Teaching is often more about relationships than it is about teaching itself. If your students do not like you or trust you, you will not be able to maximize the time you have with them. Teaching is about giving and taking. Failing to understand will lead to failure as a teacher. When students genuinely like a teacher, the teacher's job as a whole becomes much simpler, and they are able to accomplish more. Establishing a good rapport with your students ultimately leads to greater success.

“You Will Never Be Able to Do That.”

Teachers should always encourage students, not discourage them. No teachers should crush any student’s dreams. As educators, we should not be in the business of predicting futures, but of opening doors to the future. When we tell our students they can’t do something, we place a limiting threshold on what they may try to become. Teachers are great influencers. We want to show students a pathway to achieving success, rather than telling them they will never get there, even when the odds are against them.

“You Are Just Lazy.”

When students are repeatedly told that they are lazy, it becomes ingrained in them, and pretty soon it becomes a part of who they are. Many students get mislabeled as “lazy” when there is often a deeper underlying reason that they are not putting in much effort. Instead, teachers should get to know the student and determine the root cause of the issue. Once this is identified, teachers can help a student by providing them with the tools to overcome the issue.

“That’s a Stupid Question!”

Teachers should always be willing to answer a student’s questions about a lesson or content they are learning in class. Students must always feel comfortable and encouraged to ask questions. When a teacher refuses to answer a student’s question, they are discouraging the entire class to withhold questions. Questions are important because they can extend learning and provide teachers with direct feedback allowing them to assess whether or not students understand the material.

“I’ve Already Gone Over That. You Should Have Been Listening.”

No two students are the same. They all process things differently. Our job as teachers is to make sure that every student understands the content. Some students may require more explanation or instruction than others. New concepts can be especially difficult for students to grasp and may need to be retaught or revisited for several days. There is a good chance that multiple students need further explanation even if only one is speaking up.

5 Things Teachers Should Never Do

Just as much as words, actions can also wound, as these no-nos show.

Be in a Compromising Situation With a Student

It seems that we see more in the news about inappropriate teacher-student relationships than we do about all other news related to education. It is frustrating, startling, and sad. Most teachers never think this can happen to them, but opportunities present themselves more than most people think. There is always a starting point that could have been stopped immediately or prevented completely. It often starts with an inappropriate comment or text message. Teachers must proactively ensure that they never allow that starting point to occur because it is difficult to stop once a certain line is crossed.

Talk About Another Teacher

We all run our classrooms differently than the other teachers in our building. Teaching differently does not necessarily translate to doing it better. We are not always going to agree with the other teachers in our building, but we should always respect them. We should never discuss how they run their classroom with another parent or student. Instead, we should encourage them to approach that teacher or the building principal if they have any concerns. Furthermore, we should never discuss other teachers with other faculty members. This will create division and discord and make it more difficult to work, teach, and learn. 

Put a Student Down

We expect our students to respect us, but respect is a two-way street. As such, we must respect our students at all times. Even when they are testing our patience, we should remain calm, cool, and collected. When a teacher puts a student down, yells at them, or calls them out in front of their peers, they undermine their own authority with every other student in the class. These types of actions occur when a teacher loses control, and teachers must always maintain control of their classroom.

Ignore Parental Concerns

Teachers should always welcome any parent who wants to have a conference with them so long as the parent is not irate. Parents have a right to discuss concerns with their child’s teachers. Some teachers misinterpret parent concerns as an all-out attack on themselves. Truthfully, most parents are simply seeking information so that they can hear both sides of the story and rectify the situation. Teachers would be best served to proactively reach out to parents as soon as a problem begins to develop.

Become Complacent

Complacency will ruin a teacher’s career. We should always strive to improve and become better teachers. We should experiment with our teaching strategies and change them up a little every year. There are multiple factors that warrant some changes each year including new trends, personal growth, and the students themselves. Teachers must challenge themselves with ongoing research, professional development, and by having regular conversations with other educators.

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Your Citation
Meador, Derrick. "What Teachers Should Never Say or Do." ThoughtCo, Jul. 18, 2021, thoughtco.com/what-teachers-should-never-say-or-do-4088818. Meador, Derrick. (2021, July 18). What Teachers Should Never Say or Do. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-teachers-should-never-say-or-do-4088818 Meador, Derrick. "What Teachers Should Never Say or Do." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-teachers-should-never-say-or-do-4088818 (accessed June 1, 2023).