30 Things You Should Never Say in a Classroom

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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What things should the teachers avoid saying in class?

This is a short blog about teaching and learning and the things teachers should never be heard saying in the classroom.

This is written in good faith and humour, with safeguarding connotations. Tweet your thoughts here. Ask yourself: How many of the following statements or questions have you found yourself thinking, over-hearing or saying in class?

You Should Never Say?

  1. Right, you answer those questions whilst I just nip out for a fag.*
  2. Shut it son!
  3. Get out! Go straight to the headteachers office and wait outside …
  4. This is my personal email address.*
  5. During this term, I’m not going to mark any of your books.
  6. If you do that again, you’ll be excluded …*
  7. Okay. Hands up. Who doesn’t understand?
  8. Don’t choose that subject at GCSE, it won’t help you (insert) …
  9. Why didn’t you do your homework? It was easy.
  10. If you need help, ask your mum to text me.*
  11. What a stupid question!
  12.  You only need to learn this for the exam, then you can forget it.
  13. I haven’t planned anything today and forgotten what I’m doing. Can you lot just get on with some colouring-in or just read a book …
  14. My other class did this really well. What’s wrong with you today?
  15. You have to be here, I don’t.
  16. Who’s your teacher? (Reply) Well, that explains it. They’re not even a proper teacher …*
  17. I’m so happy, I don’t have to see you lot for a whole two weeks!
  18. Let’s watch a video.
  19. I’ve seen this same idea for the past 6 years.
  20. What do you mean, you don’t have a phone?
  21. (Loud burp/fart) Were you born on a farm?
  22. If I divide the time in the lesson by who is here, that gives me less than 2 minutes to speak with each of you. Okay?
  23. Thank god I don’t live near this school!
  24. ‘Hello mum? I’m teaching. I can’t speak right now.’
  25. I’m off to Thailand for half-term. What are you lot up to?
  26. I’m not even going to look at your work. Do it again!
  27. Stand in the corner and put your hands on your head.*
  28. God. I was hammered at the weekend!*
  29. So you all have more time to prepare, I’ve just decided to postpone the test …
  30. Aha! So, your (name) brother/sister. That explains it all.

Of course, much of the above is written in jest and may be acceptable within the context of your classroom conversations and teacher-student relationships. However, there are some fairly serious points above which should be avoided at all costs. I have highlighted these with a small red asterisk at the end of each sentence. (These are all safeguarding and/or health and safety issues).

Whether this raised a smile or a frown, I hope you found it useful.

If there is anything missing, why not tweet your thoughts by clicking here, or add your sentence to my comments feed below.

25 thoughts on “30 Things You Should Never Say in a Classroom

    1. I said the same as an NQT, as the whole school was lined up at the end of break time, whilst all staff were waiting to take their classes….

  1. ‘Look at me when I’m talking to you!’ Always sounds a bullying command because looking down and averting the eyes is actually the natural and therefore entirely appropriate response to feelings of shame. Hard to do anything else.

  2. “Do you want a detention?” I mean, fgs, what was I expecting? “Ooh yes please, miss: can I do two detentions instead of just one?” What a prat!

    1. “You need me more than I need you – I’ve already got my qualifications.”

    2. “I still get paid whether you pass or fail” – although this is probably not strictly true anymore.

  3. One from my school days; teacher, “is there anything you would like me to go through”, quick as a flash, student, “the window!” (on the first floor)

  4. I made the mistake once (when talking to sixth formers preparing for their French speaking) of saying…”we haven’t got time to do our individual debate topics today, so I will pick the topic and we will just do one mass debate…” Cue giggling….I never made that mistake again!

  5. You need to add to things teachers shouldn’t say:
    You are bad/naughty/stupid
    Everything is your fault
    All the other children are better than you
    Why can’t you just behave like the other kids

    And then the teacher non-verbals too:
    You’re not as important as other kids
    Your pain doesn’t matter
    Tone of voice /level of voice
    Believing other kids more
    Buying into culture of physical handling of kids in meltdown
    Dragging, pulling out of situations/surrounding/escalating.

    Poor education experiences can scar children and families for life… So teachers need to say to themselves and live this every day ‘I will be professional’ and ‘I will be mindful’

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