21 Secret Things Teachers Do That You Don't Know

21 Secret Things Teachers Do That You Don't Know

A teacher’s day is full of grading, answering questions, monitoring recess, attending meetings, and of course, teaching. But there are a lot of activities and habits that are a part of teacher life that are not in the job description. And we work hard to keep most of them our teacher secrets! Here’s a rare insider look at the things teachers secretly do.

Teacher secrets:

1. We have favorite students.

Maybe it’s the kid who makes things easy on us. Or the slacker with the sharp wit. Maybe it’s the lonely child who just needs a little extra attention. But we all have our favorites – even if our favorite changes from day to day.

2. We zone out while students are reading out loud.

Okay, in our defense, we’ve already read this chapter – like every year for the last 10 years, so it can be hard to focus.

3. We use code in emails to parents.

When we say your child is “very social,” we really mean she will. not. stop. talking. And “natural leader” is code for bossy.

4. We forget student names.

When we see that kid we had in class three years ago in the grocery store, it might take us a second to pull up the name. “Heeeyyyy youuuuu!” is always a safe bet.

5. We show the movie for us as much as for the students.

Yes, there is an educational benefit to watching the movie based on the book you just finished. But the fact that it will guarantee 90 minutes of blessed silence is definitely a perk.

6. We aren’t above bribes.

It’s not a coincidence our students got an extra 15 minutes of recess the day after we had a great observation.

7. We occasionally “forget” to grade an entire stack of essays.

Admittedly, this is trickier for elementary and middle school teachers whose students are still eager. But if you teach high school, there’s a good chance the kids forgot they even wrote essays – so it’s all good.

8. We only pretend to grade participation.

That clipboard we carry around and write on as we monitor group work? We’re really just making a grocery list.

9. We actually think some questions are stupid.

You know how teachers reassuringly tell their students “There’s no such thing as a stupid question,” when they are encouraging participation? That’s a lie. There most definitely is such a thing, and we know it.

10. We wear pants several times without washing.

Seriously, what teacher has time to do laundry every day (or week)? So, yeah, maybe we do sometimes wear our favorite pair of teacher pants two or three (or five) times between washings – but only if our denim slacks aren’t available.

11. We do a mental happy dance when that student is absent.

Obviously, we hope it’s just a dental appointment or a mild cold, definitely nothing serious (or contagious). But it is a blessed relief to get a break now and then!

12. We sometimes let that student run an errand so we can get a break.

Traditionally, running an errand for the teacher has been a little badge of honor, a sign a student was reliable and trustworthy. But it’s a more inclusive world now, and no one should be barred from errand-running – particularly not that super talkative kid who will take ten minutes to get to the office and back.

13. We mutter things behind our masks we can’t say out loud.

It will require some real self-control to curb this habit once mask mandates are lifted.

14. We eat food that isn’t ours from the staff room fridge.

Obviously, the Vera Bradly lunch box with Judy’s monogram is off-limits. But that pizza? That is probably there for the taking. Right? I mean, who leaves pizza just lying around with no name on it.

15. We text each other during meetings.

Unless we are old school, then we pass notes.

16. We push back test dates for our own sake.

Our students need never know we forgot to write the test or that we just don’t want to grade their essay questions this week. As far as they are concerned, this postponement was an act of pure benevolence.

17. We Google things our students say.

It’s true that middle school and high school teachers are apt to pick up the current teenage slang. But when they use a word or expression we don’t know and all their friends laugh, our first question is always, “Did they just say something dirty?”

18. We “cook the books.”

We’re supposed to have three grades in each week, but this week we had a test that took two days and a film that took three. Okay, ummm…everyone gets five points for answering this question when I call roll! Problem solved.

19. We often look the other way.

Some rules need to be enforced every single time. But am I going to interrupt my lesson to tell Timmy to spit out his gum or because Suzi muttered a swear word under her breath? Sometimes, no.

20. We’ve all been the one to jam the copy machine – and leave it.

We aren’t proud of it. But sometimes we just Do. Not. Have. Time. To. Deal. With. One. More. Thing – particularly when that thing is a machine that is supposed to make our lives easier. Sorry, next person in line, it’s not personal.

21. We all cry in our cars.

At lunch, at recess, during our planning time, on the way home from school, on our way to school–it happens.

There’s a certain sense of camaraderie and solidarity that comes from knowing that we share so many quirky experiences and habits with other teachers. After all, how many other professionals get excited over new pens or the chance to wear jeans. So, what about you? What would you add to this list?
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