How To Know When You’re A Teacher


Teaching, in my experience, is an undervalued and often misunderstood profession. I have been a qualified music teacher for eight years now, and after I saw a great list on Facebook this morning about teaching and the stereotypes that are associated with the profession, it prompted me to compile a list of my own.

These are my Top 25 ways to know when you’re a teacher:

1. Regardless of where you are – shopping, the cinema, in a restaurant, even on a beach on holiday – you’ll almost always hear ‘Hi Miss/Sir’ and instantly know that a student is standing behind you. The event of this happening is even more likely when you’re wearing your scruffy clothes and haven’t washed your hair.

2. You are called ‘Mum/Dad’ accidentally at least ten times a day.

3. You’ve learnt not to complain about your job to your non-teacher friends as this will always elicit a ‘but you get three months off a year, you have it so easy’ response from them and you don’t wish to be charged with GBH.

4. Excitement can be found in the discovery of an attractive looking ring-binder.

5. You’ve developed the art of almost inhaling a meal in less than twenty minutes.

6. You’re capable of working an entire day without visiting the toilet.

7. You have come to terms with the fact that any physical flaw that you have will be highlighted to you at some point.

8. Even in your 20’s you’ll be considered old and past it, except by a child’s grandparent who will tell you that you’re too young and inexperienced to have the job.

9. A child’s behaviour and personality is instantly explainable and understandable after meeting the parents.

10. You consider the work suitability of a garment when purchasing an item of clothing.

11. You are capable of correcting the behaviour of somebody else’s child simply by giving them your best ‘teacher face.’

12. You almost consider not having children of your own as you know that the prospect of naming them will be virtually impossible, due to the association that names bring with certain ‘cherubs’ in your classes.

13. You spend Sunday nights on YouTube to find interesting resources for the next week.

14. You own your own laminator, colour printer and shredder.

15. There is no question that can be asked that makes you blush – you’ve heard them all before.

16. You’ve stopped rolling your eyes when your students almost die from shock at the idea that you actually have a first name, or a family, or own an up-to-date piece of technology, or enjoy music created post 1960.

17. There are no names that could sound unusual anymore, and know how to spell the same popular name in twenty different ways.

18. It is possible to develop Jedi mind powers and ‘sense’ the presence of a mobile phone.

19. The biggest laughs can be found on websites containing compilations of stupid answers to questions on exam papers.

20. Your peripheral vision now extends to 360 degrees.

21. You teach lessons in your dreams.

22. You are capable of rephrasing all of your sentences to avoid any words that may be considered rude (unfortunately music terminology is rife with these sorts of words – I haven’t used the word ‘pianist’ in years).

23. A fantastic lesson with a wonderful class, or witnessing a child achieve something beyond what they thought capable, will provide you with a buzz for the rest of the day.

24. You’ve cried in private if you hear that one of your students have experienced something horrible in their personal lives.

And finally (try not to vomit at this one, but it’s absolutely true)

25. A genuine ‘thank you’ from a child reminds you exactly why you do the job.

Are there any others that you could add to the list?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

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133 thoughts on “How To Know When You’re A Teacher

  1. I don’t get the thing about the pianist, is it something rude? (English is not my mother tongue so maybe that’s why I don’t get it.) I relate to almost all of them, even though I am still in school to be a teacher and I don’t know if it’s my calling .. I love teaching, but I just don’t feel like the classroom is where I’m meant to be you know? Love this list, especially the no toilet and the inhaling your meal ones, so true! Haha. ^^

      • It’s worth pointing out that people pronounce this differently. Some people say “piAnist”, and some people say “PEEanist”. That could be the confusing thing. And as a pianist myself, I tend to use the first one, though Merriam-Webster says both are correct.

  2. You nailed this list! There is no need to add anymore, as far as I am concerned. In addition, the list is universal, teachers worldwide can relate to it.
    My favorite is #9. “A child’s behaviour and personality is instantly explainable and understandable after meeting the parents.” This has definitely helped me overcome any negative feelings I may have harbored for otherwise unruly students and allowed me to continue teaching and nurturing them.

    Thank you for a delightful way to begin my Summer Sunday Morning! BTW, my summer has shrunk to a mere five weeks in recent years. Tragic. πŸ˜‰ ~v.

  3. This is so funny: Thank you! You totally brightened my morning! I am left wondering if #4 is a universal truth. I am not a teacher and could never be a teacher (the only children I like are my own) but I get excited by a pretty ring binder.

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  6. #4 #6, and #21 for me are so true. Some of the others…I can’t tell if that’s being a teacher or a parent (like #11 and #20). πŸ™‚
    When a student says thank you or comes back later in the year or *gasp* after they’ve left your class…it’s magic. What really struck me is #24. I have done this. Too many times. Fantastic post.

  7. I taught for thirty years in the public schools in Southern California and retired in 2005. Let me add #26 to the list.

    #26. Years after you have been retired from the classroom, a former student you taught more than twenty years ago, Googles you, finds you, and then sends you an e-mail to say they were thinking about you and wanted to say thinks. Sometimes these e-mails come with an apology because when that adult (and now parent) who sent you the e-mail was a child and a student in your class, they were rebellious and resisted learning. They are thanking you because you wouldn’t give up on them just because they didn’t believe in themselves and wanted you to leave them alone.

  8. I taught for 12 years, loved the job, hated the politics (I was a Head of Dept) and am not sorry I got out before it broke me. I taught teenage boys literature – they were wonderful, their legacy is that I now have the sense of humour and music tastes of a 14 year old boy!

  9. Oh dear, I remember having my music teacher in tears of anger when I was about 12 – it was in the days when they could still hit us so she called me outside, held one arm and tried to wack me across the back of the legs.

    So I spun round and round, leaning backwards so she couldn’t get at my legs. She ended up storming back into the music room, plonking herself down at the piano and saying “Do you know girls, Gillian is STILL laughing!” I didn’t mean to be a pain but she was trying to make me sing solo and I was dying of embarrassment, so I started playing the fool to cover it up.

    I never forgot that when I went into behaviour work with ‘difficult’ kids – I always looked at the circumstance around the reported incidents to see if the bad behaviour was a diversion, like mine was. Teachers have a really difficult job these days with so many pressures and targets – it’s killing the profession.

    • Ooh don’t even get me started on the pressures of it – that’s why I lasted just ten years! I can’t imagine what it would be like to physically whack a child as a teacher – i’ve been angry enough to want to but have always taken a step back…

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