How You Know When You’re A Teacher

How you know when You're a teacher

Updated August 2018, originally published July 2013

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’ or hear your name shouted out at you and instantly know that a student is standing in the immediate vicinity. 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 get into yet another confrontation while you’re trying to drink your cocktail.

4. Excitement can be found in the discovery of attractive stationery, and hours of fun can be had purchasing supplies before the start of a new term – ring bindersPost-it notes , biros and multipacks of highlighters are some of the favourites. You also know which are the best whiteboard pens to use and are highly protective of lending them out to coworkers as you know you’ll never get them back.

5. A Teacher’s Lesson Planner is actually quite fun to fill in and you quickly develop your own style. Like Bullet Journalling. For teachers.

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

7. You desperately hope that the new, fresh faced Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT’s) don’t become as cynical as you are.

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

9. You have come to terms with the fact that any physical flaw that you have will be highlighted to you at some point. ‘You look really rough, Miss. Are you feeling ill?’

10. Even in your 20’s you’ll be considered old and past it, except by a student’s parent or grandparent who will inform you that you’re far too young and inexperienced to have the job.

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

12. You consider the work suitability of a garment when clothes shopping.

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

14. 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.

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

16. You own your own Laminatorcolour printer and shredder.

17. There is no question that can be asked that makes you blush – you’ve heard them all before. I actually wrote down all the random questions I was asked during a teaching day once.

18. 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.

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

20. It is possible to develop Jedi mind powers and ‘sense’ the presence of a mobile phone in a room, even when you can’t physically see it.

21. The biggest laughs can be found on websites containing compilations of slightly too literal answers to questions on exam papers.

22. Your peripheral vision now extends to 360 degrees.

23. You teach an entire day’s timetable in your dreams.

24. 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 stopped using the words ‘pianist,’ ‘G String’ and flutter tonguing’ after my first week of being in a classroom).

25. 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.

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

27. You’re guaranteed to be ill at the beginning of every holiday.

28. You’re capable of answering four questions at once.

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

29. 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?

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141 thoughts on “How You Know When You’re A Teacher

    • Absolutely! Don’t get me started on why teachers are fantastic – it’s bound to spark some sort of heated debate! Thanks, as always for your comments – I really appreciate it!!! You always take the time to write nice things!!

      • Aw thanks… oldest is 21…but her dad and I started our family really early…haha….we had her at 17….I had been really really sick, I thought to myself that there was NO way I could be pregnant …maybe it was a tumor….I seriously thought that!! ……..well…..I didn’t have a tumor and at the age of 16 I found out I was prego!!

      • Superwoman…..hardly. It was hard, but he helped…..I was still living at home so of course my mom and sister helped out too…….I’m not going to lie, it was an eye opening experience. I no longer had the luxury of sleeping in till noon on the weekends and hanging out with friends pretty much ended…..but I wouldn’t change anything!!

      • OHHH hold the phone….EX HUSBAND!! we have been divorced for 16 years….hahaha….but thank you!! I’m proud of her, she knew she wanted to teach since she was in junior high and made her grades a priority…….she never dated through out high school or college, she feared that getting involved with a guy would take away her focus.

        So….hopefully she will jump into the dating pool now!

  1. Loved reading your list! I will soon be teaching at the college level, and although it is different from teaching younger students, I’m sure many of your points will hold true for me as well. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you will pick up Travels with Epicurus…its a wonderful book!

    • Thanks so much for your comment! Teaching older students I’m sure will be very similar, with perhaps slightly less of the attitude that younger teenagers have…

      Thanks for the recommendation- I’ll check it out!

  2. This is beautiful! I personally loved this one – “Your peripheral vision now extends to 360 degrees.”
    We are all teachers in a way but I will never forget those wonderful mentors from my school. And ofcourse my parents.

    My first time here and am so digging up your archives! 🙂

  3. I was not the best child any of my teachers ever had, so I am thankful every day that they were all but a few patient, kind, empathic people. I had a lot of problems that were late to be diagnosed and an unenviable home life. My teachers, all but two, somehow always managed to show MD kindness. As an adult I have discovered more what a hard life it is and that has made me all the more grateful, especially to those who always had time to help a smart but troubled girl. Even more so to the teachers who tried to help me by trying to get me to talk about my home life, though I was too scared to. Good people, all. I will never stand to hear a teacher told their job is easy. It is long hours, hard work, and a good teacher has their heart broken regularly by their children. All deserve respect. It is a rare person who makes a good teacher.

  4. These are so true! I can definitely relate to number #12. Half the names my husband suggested were countered with memories of particular former students with those names. There was also a nod to that problem on an episode of How I Met Your Mother a few seasons back (it aired not long after we had settled on a name for one of our boys).

  5. Loved this list! I just started teaching this year – a little different as I am an foreign ESL teacher but I definitely can relate to most of your list.

  6. Reblogged this on Queenie and commented:
    I don’t often reblog something! But this blogger has just summed up my life!

    And can I just add that I have heard my name when I was naked at the swimming pool just at the point when I was shimming off my costume under my towel and it drops to the floor and I heard screeching across the changing rooms ‘hi miss c’ ….. Great! X

  7. That’s a great list! I used to feel so touched when a student would accidentally call me ‘mom’. In many ways, during our 8 hour days together, I was a mother to my students. 🙂

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  9. I love this! Having recently handed in my blackboard rubber (chortle, chortle) after thirty years, I can totally identify with your list. I think you have a lovely style – very amusing! I so agree with the points you have made. Alienora

      • Nerves all shot to pieces more like, Suzie! Yes, it was quite an achievement, in all seriousness: gave up a year ago to become a full time writer, but, before that, had got to the stage where eight members of my tutor group had parents who had been in earlier tutor groups of mine! I was in danger of becoming the Great Grandmother of the House! Most unnerving! I guess you are less burdened by years than I, you lucky thing! I do hope you continue to find happiness in the profession. It is a worthwhile one, despite all the crap we get thrown at us – good luck!

  10. Reblogged this on suzie81's Blog and commented:

    This post has been picked up on Facebook and has started to be shared around, so I thought I would share it with you guys again… I’d be delighted if you would join in the Facebook love and share it! Teachers in particular will relate to this! Hope you enjoy!

  11. So relate especially to number 8 and 24. Some days just break your heart. But then a small triumph will brighten the next day. It’s a wild ride!

  12. Haha!! Teaching feels like the last picture some days, and I do feel the profession as a whole isn’t valued enough. Teachers have to put up with lots of different expectations and at times, those expectations are conflicting. I feel like I’m a glorified babysitter sometimes, but I know I’m making a difference in my students’ lives when they smile and say “thank you” or if the just want to talk.

  13. I love all of these..although I must my genuine thank you come from adult students these days. I had a permanent headache for three terms in my first job courtesy of 10 periods of year 8 maths each week. Each week I looked forward to my ‘sanity hour’, Prep Library. The joy of reading and having fun with a class of young students was worth the headaches.

  14. This is great, Suzie. I love this list! I can agree with it all! I would add that you have recurring dreams on a regular basis (before the first day of school, going back after a vacation) – nightmares about kids out of control, screaming, and you acting lke a raving lunatic, trying to maintain some order!!!

    I’ve met some of the best human beings through teaching – both students and teachers alike! Hard, hard job – but the best job ever

  15. All of the above plus you buy certain items in stores in the next town because you know the odds are one of the checkers will either be a student or a former student.
    This definitely made my day!

  16. This was great, I am glad you shared this for us none teaching folks. It has opened my eyes from another perspective that you have laid out so well, thank you!

  17. Retired two years, following a career teaching in secondary schools in UK. Your list strikes many chords, especially #25, It really is the intangible rewards that make the job worthwhile. I remember being approached in the street about 15 years ago by a middle-aged woman, who asked me, “Excuse me, are you Mr H, who used to teach at . . . ?” I was a little hesitant in my reply, but when I admitted it was me, she continued, (and I her words have been etched on my memory) “I don’t know if you remember my son, X, who was in your tutor group some years ago, but I just wanted to thank you for what you did for him.” I must have looked a little puzzled, because she went on to tell me that X had arrived half way through the school year and was having all sorts of problems when he joined my group. Then, it all came back to me. A shy, withdrawn 12 year old with literacy problems and how we’d worked together for the rest of the year to build his confidence, before he left to join another class. I protested that I had not done anything ‘special’, but she cut me short and said, “You might not think you did anything special, but his time with you was the making of him and gave him the confidence to work hard, continue his studies and end up doing what he’s doing now.” I asked her what that might be. “Well, he’s just completed his degree in medecine and is looking to specialise in surgery.”
    You can imagine just how that made me feel!
    Now, please don’t think that I’m blowing my own trumpet here, but I think that all teachers should bear in mind that their professionalism, their ability to intereact with individual children and their potential influence for GOOD is never to be underrated – most especially by themselves.
    I wish you all well.

  18. This is another fantastic post. I always get a little ‘zing’ when I see you have posted…although please don’t think me a stalker 🙂 I completely resonate with your list, and there are a fair few that relate to my previous career as a childrens nurse – particularly our extreme bladder control, and understanding the child so much more once you have met the parents.
    I am absolutely with you…for all the things you go through, it is the little moments that make it worthwhile. You know that you have made an imprint on someone’s soul that could potentially have lasting positive effects throughout their lives.

    • What a lovely thing to say! Thanks so much for continually being so supportive – I am not able to respond to all the comments I receive at the minute but I can assure you I read every single one, and I really appreciate the time you take to respond to my posts. Thanks!

  19. As a recently retired Primary teacher I can totally agree with all your points about teaching. They made me laugh, but just to say it’s the best job in the world, you really feel that you are contributing to the future. Although, I love having my weekends and evenings free, I still miss the buzz and the amazing development of young children at school, not forgetting the banter and support from former colleagues in the staffroom!

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  21. Thanks very much. What a fantastic list.
    May be we could add:
    Being served at a till or a bank with the salutation, hello Mr/Mrs/Ms … and you completely run out of names to use.
    When you get that doubting look from an ‘evil’ child in town who is now a dad or mum, and inside you think: ‘I knew it! But they walk up to you and say: “You are the only one who believed in me.”
    Thanks Imogen for sharing this with me. I can never forget you were one of my best students ever.

  22. Pingback: How to know when you are a teacher | Primary Teacher in Training

  23. As someone who just left the teaching profession after a two and a half years I have to laugh at how many of these still ring true. Especially #8 which, when I started teaching at 22 was strangely harrowing (#3 rings true as well but won’t go into that because *blood boiling*.

    I think one you missed is ‘Using Your Teacher Voice on A Member of the Public”. I may have had this happen to me in an aquarium where I told a father of four off for taking flash photos in front of a fish tank because it makes the fish blind…

  24. I’ve taught for 18 years and can resonate with every one of these. I absolutely love the “teacher look.” (You don’t have to say a thing!) And I don’t know what GBH is, but I think it might have something to do with restraining from physical violence of some sort. I have to hold back every time someone says that to me. I wish I’d take a movie of all that I do in the summer.
    p.s. It’s so true about the binder and other school supplies! Thanks for sharing.

  25. Yes, yes, yes… I did tell you I was a failed elementary/music student teacher, right? Totally get where all of this is coming from.

    I wish I was disciplined enough to homeschool– but then I remember that sometimes I groan and wonder if my children’s teachers allow me enough time to be a parent. Most EVERYONE I have spoken to have said that the involvement of parents is one of THE biggest indicators of a student’s success, and yet, Western society just doesn’t place enough emphasis on parents being teachers and giving them the resources to do so. I understand the working/immigrant parents that literally have no time, but the parents that expect teachers (and librarians, and pool lifeguards, and, and) to be babysitters… oh that just burns me up.

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