As responsible adults tasked with instructing youngsters about life, teachers are supposed to be role models for their students. But teachers are still only human—and their true thoughts and feelings can often be very different from the way that they have to behave in the classroom. Although teachers can’t speak their minds on the job, they certainly can on the internet! Here's what teachers would really like to say to their students.
I would love to see the look of shock on my students’ faces if I ever told them that when they think they are being little geniuses by getting me to talk about random things at the beginning of class instead of "teaching," I'm really just allowing it to happen because I don't have enough material planned to cover a full class.
The message that I would love to be allowed to deliver to my bratty little students is that, some day, you are going to come across people who are not being paid to tolerate you, and all of a sudden life is going to become considerably more difficult.
The little secret that I choose never to let my students know is that we teachers have much better hearing than you all assume. We just pick our battles as it pertains to inappropriate comments we hear. Oh, and sometimes I pretend not to see that outrageous thing you did just because I, too, found it humorous, and speaking to you about it would only result in me cracking up.
One thing that I wish I could tell my students is that I can smell you. Everyone can. Please for the love of God, use deodorant! To anyone wondering why I wouldn't ever actually just say this to a student, the answer is twofold. First, puberty is a smelly ordeal, and a lot of the kids can't help it. Second, if, God forbid, the smell is not their fault (i.e. infection, a cultural thing, or improper washing of clothes), then I wouldn't want to unjustly alienate that student forever.
Here is what I would love to be able to tell my students but obviously can’t. It's that if you’re going to secretly eat in class, stop staring at me awkwardly while you’re doing it! You are literally ratting yourself out by doing so. Also, the reason the students aren’t allowed to eat is because those are the school rules. I have absolutely no say in the matter.
Because of this, I would be jeopardizing my job by allowing it to go on under my watch; especially because it’s my first year working here and my supervisor pops in every once in a while to check on how things are going. To be clear, though, I do allow students to drink water in class (even though all other drinks are not allowed), and I always let them finish their meals outside before the second bell goes off if they need to.
Sometimes, they even offer me some of their leftovers! And if they are ever truly hungry (they know this), they can just ask me in the beginning of class for a few minutes to eat outside. I also don’t punish them when I catch them, I just politely ask them to put the food away and have a laugh. I realize that telling them angrily will just make them furious, so I choose to enforce the rules in a less confrontational way. See, I’m not a complete monster!
The thing that I wish I could tell my students is that it's just as weird for me as it is for you when we bump into each other in public. Here’s my full story. I once went on vacation with my then-girlfriend and bumped into a student three states over. We both kind of shook our heads "no" at each other and kept on walking, silently agreeing to not address it.
I saw this same student again two months later, during the summer, at a concert where they were underage drinking. We just shook our heads at one another again, keeping that same silent agreement. Believe it or not, I then saw this same student again four more times during the summer, all entirely by accident. It was never discussed.
Sometimes, when I feel like students are getting too friendly with me and I need to distance myself from them a bit for the sake of boundaries, I would love to be able to just say to them: “If I didn’t think you would abuse the situation, I would really enjoy being more human and casual around you. I think you are a fun person to be around. Unfortunately, that's not really appropriate for either of us.”
What I would like to tell my students is that I don't care that you came to class stoned. Just stop interrupting my lessons, and for God’s sake don't touch any power tools while you're here!
I'm not a teacher, but I have to weigh in on this. I work as a school bus driver and what I would like to be able to just bluntly say to my students, more than anything else, is to sit the heck down and stop acting like fools. This is for your safety more than mine! You will all die if you cause me to crash the bus, geniuses!
I’m not a teacher, but a former student. This is the story of the day I discovered one of the greatest secrets of my school’s teachers. My entire high school’s English department would secretly come to the same fancy restaurant’s bar together almost every weekend for one reason and one reason only: To talk smack about all their students.
The place was an hour across town and it was not likely that any of the kids from our school would ever wind up in a fine dining place that far away, so it was a pretty safe bet for them. I worked there for over a year as part of the wait staff when I was in my early 20s. Waiting in a fine dining place is a killer gig if you know anything about wine.
Once I discovered what was going on, I had a blast talking smack about my old classmates with them and hearing their honest opinions after a free bottle of $200 wine.
I have this really obnoxious student named Johnno in one of my classes. Sometimes, when he is really getting on my nerves, I literally fantasize about one day saying to him “You know what, Johnno? I hate you!”
As an English teacher, what I would love to be able to openly admit in front of my students is that I hate the texts we study just as much as you do, but everyone in the administration just shrugs whenever I suggest changing them up! I’m sorry that they made us keep that awful book that none of us can stand on the curriculum list for yet another year.
I genuinely want to offer to buy them all back from the students after the exam is over so that I can burn them like the waste of time and space that they are.
Dear students. We, your teachers, are all aware that your sense of entitlement is most likely acquired from your upbringing. As a result of this knowledge, parent-teacher conferences to discuss your studies aren’t going to accomplish squat when your parents show up and expect to just blame us for everything until we agree to change your grades, despite you putting in zero effort.
My “teacher secret” is that for helper tasks (i.e. taking lunch count, taking attendance sheets to the office, handing out worksheets, etc), we always choose the badly-behaved kids, not the well-behaved ones. Oh, and we do this for a deeply unflattering reason. It gives us a break from them, and gives them less time to destroy things and wreak havoc in the classroom.
There are a few things that would be a lot of fun for me to admit to my students, but that I obviously never will. Like how 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.
I once knew a kid who would always come into first period stoned. Nevertheless, he would always complete his work extremely quickly (and very accurately too). Then, he would just stare at his paper or whatever when he was done. I only wish that I could tell him that he’s basically a mathematical genius when he's stoned…
What I would love to tell my students is that I have never found a single one of them intimidating, and I never will. No matter how intimidating you all think you are. That’s why I laughed at one of you when you asked me if I “knew who his father was.” Yeah, he’s the manager of a car dealership. Guess what? That means nothing to me, son.
I once even had a kid throw a desk at me and, while it scared me in 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.
My little “teacher secret” is that when I say I've been too busy to grade your tests, it's almost always a lie. Here's the truth: I’ve just been too lazy.
One thing that I would love to be able to tell my students but can’t is my gamertag. I usually say that there's a school policy against it when they ask, but there really isn't. I just don't wanna play Overwatch or whatever with a bunch of relatively nice kids who turn into total monsters when they play video games. If I tell the cool ones, I know it'll get around.
To my freshmen, yes I always know when you didn’t do my math homework because you stayed up late playing Fortnite. You added me as a friend on Epic, so I can see that. Remember? Also, the amount of homework not done in lower grades when new Battle Passes come out is suspiciously coincidental. To one 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. Oh and by the way, your friends always rat you out when you stay home or skip class to make and edit those videos.
To all the high schoolers I teach, you’re dumb but I still love you guys anyway. I’m not stupid and, while I know you cheat on your homework, I don’t care since it’s only worth 10% of your grade and you’re merely forgoing the practice you can get before the test by not actually doing it. To the sixth-graders I teach math to, dear Lord you make me cringe so hard I have to take headache medication some days!
I have so much more to say, but my lunch break is almost over.
I would love to tell my students that a lot of us teachers probably drink, smoke, sleep around, etc. more than you do, and hearing you talking about it and trying to hide it as if it’s something we wouldn't know about is richly ironic.
I hate when my students come into class stoned, because it’s math class. They always make stupid errors when they’re high. Unfortunately, I can’t get too mad because 1. As a student, I used to be high in first period every day as well, and 2. I smoke in my spare time too.
What I would love to be allowed to say to my students is this: you're unique, but you're not special. Set your goals high. But understand that if you treat your goals as needs, you will have nothing but a lifetime of disappointment ahead of you.
I'll let you in on a little secret, students. Every adult you've ever known was a kid at some point in his or her life. You think we don't remember summer vacation? Riding our bikes down the creek? Catching polliwogs in a jar? Camping out under the stars?My secret is that some days, I sit there in my office, looking out at you kids in the playground and I think, "They don't know how good they got it. In a few years, they're all going to be grown-ups like me and all those good times will just be distant memories for them, too."
Yes, we know that you think some teachers are attractive. You aren’t very good at hiding your feelings when you stare at us in the extremely obvious way that you usually do. Honestly, as teachers, we don't even have to be particularly hot to get that kind of attention from certain students. It's more like this: we're aware of the fact that, for some students, the hypothetical intimacy and power dynamics coupled with the age difference can be a turn-on.
Nevertheless, I just pretend not to notice when I get certain looks from my students. Oh, and I'm a guy, by the way.
My little “teacher secret” is that I occasionally pray for certain students not to show up to class so that I can give myself half of a chance of making it through that day. Legitimate prayers. I have even wished for some kids to fall into comas, get mono, or get some non-lethal whatever illness just to keep them away from my classes because either they were, A- so distracting it dragged the whole class down, or B- just little jerks.
I would love to somehow let my students know that I can definitely hear all of the horrible things that you are saying. Yes, I see that you are on the other side of the room. I may be "old" to you, but I am certainly not deaf.
I can never tell this girl in my class that I fully and clearly overheard every single word that she said the other day to the boy who sits beside her. At the beginning of the period, before I had actually started teaching that day’s lesson, I guess they thought I couldn’t hear them, but they were wrong. I heard as the girl was telling the boy about how hungry she was.
She also told him that she didn't have any money on her. Then, clearly thinking that I was too oblivious to notice, the girl offered to do an intimate favor for the boy if he bought her a Big Mac after class. We're not exactly in the best part of town here. Of course, I pretended like I didn't hear it. Young lady, you learned an important lesson that day—that the teenage boys in your classes will always be willing to exchange favors for any kind of intimate activity. 100 out 100 times.
Recently, the school that I work at put smoke detectors in all of the restrooms, in an attempt to prevent students from smoking inside the building. Nevertheless, some kid in one of my classes still needed his nicotine fix the other day, so he stuck his face into his backpack under his desk, lit up a smoke, and then tried to claim that the smoke coming out of his bag was just his laptop malfunctioning.
Hey kid, I know what you were really up to and just pretended to believe your excuse to avoid having to deal with the situation.
My little teacher secret is that one of the most valuable lessons I can possibly teach my students is how to fake looking busy to avoid getting in trouble. If we're supposed to be working on an assignment or reading or whatever and you see me coming in your direction, at the very least have a piece of paper on your desk and a pen in your hand and some writing on your paper.
If you do this, even if you're just pretending, 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, then sorry, bud, but I'm heading directly your way. This lesson isn't just petty. It will be invaluable in the real world when these kids have to deal with bosses someday.
My little secret that I can’t tell my students about is that after meeting your parents, 90% of the time I think to myself, "The apple didn't fall far from the tree." It's not necessarily a good or bad thing per se, but the reality is that you're truly a lot more like your parents than you realize.
Here are a few examples off the top of my head of what I would love to be able to say to a student: First, just because I like you as a person doesn’t mean that I won’t fail you. Being smart or friendly isn’t a justification for being lazy, and I can’t pass someone who never hands in their work. Sorry, not sorry. You have to try at least a little if you want to pass.
Second, I moved your seat away from your friend's seat because they were taking you down with them. You have a real future in sports, but you need to pass my class to be able to play them professionally. Your friends were causing you to fail and, if you don’t get to play volleyball, I honestly 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.
Here’s what I can never openly admit to my class: 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 exactly who you imagine them to be.
I don't know if there's an exact quote I'd use, but I wish I could let my students know how dumb they look sometimes. And how they need to relax and stop taking themselves so seriously. I also frequently find myself wishing I could openly rag on kids' clothing or hairstyles that they've obviously put way too much time and money into—but these thoughts usually only cross my mind when they're being jerks to me.
That's the unprofessional/petty stuff I'd want to say. I could think of something much more wise to add, but it's my Friday lunch break and my brain is fried from trying to keep these idiots’ heads together a week before finals.
Yes, students. Although I can’t admit it, of course I intentionally put you in a group with the kid you have a crush on! I'm stuck here with you 180 days a year, I know who you like and I want to see some drama!
Dear students. Yes, we teachers are fully aware that Teacher X is incompetent, mean, and/or stupid. We still toe the line and show solidarity with them because otherwise there would be chaos. Along similar lines, I'm laying down the law on all these particularly idiotic policies that the administration came up with because they could fire me for not doing so.
Believe me, I hate the policies even more than you do. One of the reasons they came up with them, however, is because you guys are a bunch of idiots with zero impulse control. We're all in this together, you little jerks.
I love my students a whole bunch. (I do actually tell them this, that's not the thing.) But here's the secret I can never admit: Holy cow, every single middle schooler is a jerk at that age. Like, even the best ones. They're all jerks. You simply can't help it at that point in life. Part of the process of being a good middle school teacher is accepting the jerkishness of your kids and figuring out ways to work with it. Don't worry guys, your peers (and you) will stop being jerks soon. Most of you, anyway.
Also, all the things you think your parents and teachers don't know about? We do. We've done it all. We just would prefer not to think about you doing it because you're much too young. Also, to all those reading this and saying “Well, I wasn’t a jerk at that age,” suuuuure you weren't! In all my years of teaching, I have yet to meet a single kid who was not a jerk in middle school.
You're the exception, I guess. Congratulations, you special person. You win the trophy. I've taught more than 700 kids in my career, but I didn't teach you, so I guess I really don't know.
I would love to be able to bluntly inform my students that the distinct smell of their favorite illicit substance doesn't just magically disappear between the parking lot and my classroom.
In all honesty, this is the one thing I reeeaally cannot have my students ever find out. It would destroy all of my authority in the classroom if my pupils found out that I still live with my mum. Some of my students have already moved out of their parents’ places themselves. I can only imagine how merciless they'd be if they realized that I still lived at home.
My little secret is that I can always tell when students are doing things that they shouldn’t be doing in the middle of class, thinking that no one can notice. This might include using their phones or, in some extreme cases that are more common than people think, even touching themselves inappropriately under their desks (really).
In my experience, the best way to deal with these kinds of situations is to create some kind of cover with a think-pair-share exercise ("Okay class, tell your neighbor who you think is stupider: Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer"), and then quietly tell the kid that you need to talk to him in the hall. He can step out without feeling like anyone is watching him because the rest of his classmates are all distracted.
After a few minutes of cool-down time, I step out and say "You looked like you were feeling sick. Do you want to go to the office and call home?" They'll usually deny feeling sick, and then I can say "Well, something seemed wrong. Let me know if you need to go to the office." This way, they can save face while also realizing that people do in fact notice when they're doing something really freaking stupid in a public place.
This is my "I wish I could say this" message to one particular recent student of mine. I know that you were always cheating by copying answers off your classmates’ tests, so I came up with a brilliant plan. I gave you tests with the answers in a different order than everyone else 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 than reporting the cheating would have been!
The thing that I can never admit to my students is that I always encourage the worst, most annoying kids in my class just as much (or even more) than I do with my favorites. However, this isn't for a nice reason and it definitely doesn't come from a desire to treat everyone equally. It's just because I don’t want those jerks failing and coming back to my class again next year!
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