50 ‘Teacherisms’

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John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
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What makes you a teacher?

Being a teacher comes with its own unique set of baggage, feelings, thoughts and experiences.

Do you treat any illness or injury with a wet paper towel? Do you use your ‘teacher stare’ outside of school? Do you look forward to the summer term and laugh at the futility of throwing foam javelins that blow sideways, backwards or upwards even in the slightest breeze?

Do you like snap General Elections because your school is used as a polling station? Or do you have ‘destination addiction‘?

Well, of course you do, you’re a teacher after-all and that’s what you do! Take a look at our list of 50 teacherisms and add any of your own!

You know if you are a teacher when…

  1. You realise light bulb moments only really happen in B&Q.
  2. You have no idea what dyslexia actually is and realise you never will.
  3. You say, “Just because your finger fits inside your nose doesn’t mean you should put it there.”
  4. You say, “Who can tell me what I’m thinking right now?”
  5. You say, “What do you mean Shazad has just been sick all over the keyboard!”
  6. You say, “We don’t even need to discuss whether that’s a non-negotiable.”
  7. You say, “I think some people have forgotten we only use a playground voice in the playground.”
  8. You have had enough of dressing up as Where’s Wally? and you really couldn’t care less where he is.
  9. You stack the chairs on your table after a meal at a restaurant and check the floor for rubbers, pencils and worksheets.
  10. You keep repeating the mantra “Christmas, Easter, Summer…Christmas, Easter, Summer” over and over again whilst rocking backwards and forwards.
  11. You oscillate between depression and euphoria hourly and are marinating in cortisol everyday by 4pm.
  12. You carry out a risk assessment on a day out with your family.
  13. You say, “One, two, three, eyes on me…One, two, eyes on you!”
  14. You don’t let another class borrow your scissors because they always come back covered in PVA.
  15. You let rip at home get if anyone passes you scissors pointy end first.
  16. You hate high fives because you know that children never wash their hands after going to the toilet so you ‘self-five’ instead.
  17. You think life isn’t worth living when the forecast for the week means everyday looks like ‘wet play’.
  18. You can digest food in less than five minutes and eat biscuits like they are going out of fashion.
  19. You start dreading Monday just after teatime on a Saturday.
  20. You see a brand new box of glue sticks in the office and you get excited.
  21. You realise that break duty makes you moody and irritable for at least 12 hours.
  22. You use your teacher voice with your parents and use your teacher face with shop assistants.
  23. You look forward to World Book Day because it releases your inner-panto and urge to dress up.
  24. You give misbehaving children in supermarkets your ‘teacher stare’ because you are never off-duty.
  25. You fret over being de-skilled over the summer holidays feeling unable to teach again.
  26. You wake up at 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am and fall to sleep around 5:55am.
  27. You shop in the next town to avoid being seen by your class and their parents.
  28. You get called mum or dad by children at least twice a week.
  29. You love laminating and don’t know when to stop.
  30. You have your own laminator at home and no one else is allowed to use it.
  31. You find yourself getting punctuation rage in public especially in connection with misplaced apostrophes.
  32. You know exactly how many days, hours and seconds there are until the end of term.
  33. You find yourself spending your days off in stationery aisles and really enjoying yourself.
  34. You treat non-contact time like a 2 week holiday to the Seychelles.
  35. You turn every conversation you have socially into a teaching tale.
  36. You accept that every physical flaw you have will be mentioned by your students throughout the year and you thank them for their honesty.
  37. You avoid naming your own children after anyone you have ever taught.
  38. You spend your holidays collecting ‘things that might come in useful for school’.
  39. You mentally strangle anyone who says, “How many holidays do you get a year?”
  40. You get depressed half way through the summer hols and say “There’s only 3 weeks left!”
  41. You always have a sore throat, ‘a tickle’, an ache, a pain or an unexplained illness related to teaching.
  42. You have tried mindfulness, yoga, pilates and colouring in books but you know nothing beats a glass of wine.
  43. You have had head lice, been coughed at and sneezed on.
  44. You say, “I like the way you have used these colours” when you have absolutely no idea what a child’s painting is supposed to depict.
  45. You find yourself saying, “It’s hard for me to tell who is telling the truth when I wasn’t there. I’ll have to speak to the lunchtime supervisor, now go and sit down and get on.”
  46. You turn a trip to the shops with your family into a learning experience or treasure trail.
  47. You dread Valentine’s Day and Halloween falling on a school day.
  48. You enjoy the challenge of fixing the photocopier and briefly consider it as a career.
  49. You frequently have an identity crisis, crippling self-confidence issues, crushing self-doubts and regularly feel a fraud.
  50. You bombard the children with tests in the first week back because you need to ease yourself back in gently.

These are some of the things teachers get up to. What about you? What do you say and do?

6 thoughts on “50 ‘Teacherisms’

  1. Very funny, then I got to number 26. Totally true for so many teachers and yet just not right. As trump might say ‘SAD’.

  2. Very funny, and often sad; after 30 years in primary and hardly a day off, I see myself in most if these. I find myself randomly telling strangers’ to tie their shoelaces when out in public and jumping when the phone rings between 12 and 1 in case it’s Ofsted (even when I’m at home).

  3. I laughed aloud at the photocopier engineer as a career one!! No.48.
    Please someone. Do one more aimed at Secondary teaching! Although many of these apply to both!

  4. Sadly, even semi retired I suffer from most of these. As to No 39 I always say “Well there’s nothing stopping you from going for it.” To which the reply is something like “No way I couldn’t/wouldn’t do that for all the tea in china.”

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