10 things only fellow teachers understand

Sunday night stress, local celebrity status and an overwhelming urge to tell other adults off – it's all part of the job
9th December 2020, 12:00pm
Gemma Corby


10 things only fellow teachers understand


Teachers may seem like normal human beings to most, but they inhabit a secret world with its own rules and rituals. 

This can be difficult for non-teachers to understand, particularly if they have recently befriended or started dating a teacher. 

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Here is some advice for the confused and bewildered:

1. Teachers are celebrities

I knew life would never be the same again when I heard sniggering from behind a pillar in the Aberdeen branch of Primark in 2005.

I had just started my first teaching job and was waving some knickers (ones for sale, not my own) at a friend, as they had an amusing design that I thought she'd appreciate. 

I didn't know I was being spied on until I heard laughing and the inevitable "Hi Miss!". 

As teachers, we are expected to be model citizens, so don't expect us to get blind drunk and start an impromptu Spice Girls tribute concert on the street corner.

Fortunately, as celebrities, we are more than adequately compensated financially for this curtailing of our liberty. On no, wait, hold on… 

2. We can't go out midweek

Well, we can if we are given at least three weeks to prepare for it and if we are not too late home.

3. Our weekends are not our own

Unlike people who work Monday to Friday, we do not get an entire weekend off, despite what some areas of the press may say. 

Please expect some of our weekend to be dedicated to marking, planning, report writing, data inputting and resource-creating exhaustion.

4. Sunday nights are...interesting 

The sound of the Antiques Roadshow theme tune can have us leaping off the sofa in a panic. This Pavlovian conditioning sounds an alarm in our brains to begin packing bags, making lunch, sorting outfits, locating laptops and so on and so on.

Fiona Bruce's voice means the weekend is officially over.

5. We don't have enough stationery

 We just don't, OK?

6. Our lives are planned with military precision

A walk to the pub, you say? A drink or two, maybe dinner? Just see where the evening takes us? No chance. 

Evenings are micro-planned (yes, sitting on the sofa in my pjs, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram is part of that plan, thank you very much). 

Teachers' schedules are so full that it's difficult for us to be spontaneous. You want to go out for a drink? I can pencil you in for three Saturdays' time…

7. We know all the latest trends

This is where teachers really come up trumps. Other grown-ups look on in amazement as we educate them about what their children are doing and what the hell they are talking about.

8. We're always looking for resources 

Do not be so naive as to think that a trip to the beach or the local museum or even the shops is for pleasure.

No, if we can pick up resources then we will, particularly if they are free. Expect our cars to be filled with pebbles, resource booklets and cardboard boxes.

9. We sometimes tell people off in public

Most of the time we can control the urge, but sometimes it is overpowering, like the time I chastised a grown woman for using me to lever herself into a crowded Tube carriage. 

She looked quite shocked and quickly apologised. One of my teacher-friends once told an entire London bus to "just behave" when a  load of people started kicking off over something or other. 

They listened, though; the teacher voice has power.

10. We don't have that much time during the holidays

Don't make us laugh. We'll be doing all the things we have been putting off for the past six or seven weeks, such as: going to the doctor/dentist/optician/hairdresser, cleaning the house, shopping, mowing the lawn, reminding friends and family that we are actually still alive and haven't fallen off the face of the Earth, and watching back-to-back episodes of Midsomer Murders (maybe that last one is just me).

Gemma Corby is a former special educational needs and disability coordinator (Sendco) and freelance writer

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