Skip to main content

Five of the most cringeworthy things teachers say

There's nothing worse than a passive-aggressive colleague who thinks they are better than you – here's how to respond to their comments, writes one history teacher

News article image

There's nothing worse than a passive-aggressive colleague who thinks they are better than you – here's how to respond to their comments, writes one history teacher

1. "He behaves for me"

Read as: I'm a better teacher than you.

Response: He may behave for you because you let him get away with murder. He may behave for you because your expectations aren't as high as mine. He may behave for you because you invest most lesson time into appeasing him and trying to be his best friend. Of course, you think he behaves for you because your teaching is superior, or because you have a special connection with the most disaffected students. There’s no point in you trying to explain this mystical force you seem to possess. It’s just magic. I’m pretty sure I haven’t got it though.


2. "I got rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted"

Read as: I'm a better teacher than you, Ofsted said so.

Response: Congratulations – one of your showpieces achieved "outstanding" status. Despite the fact that Ofsted no longer grades individual lessons, you still insist on referencing this lucky break whenever you get the opportunity, lauding it over others to raise your own status to that of certified teacher legend. If you’re going to boast, at least do it over something meaningful – like a school show you organised in 1998 or the fact you changed someone’s life. It’s sad that this has become the chief reference point of your success – an hour spent with someone in the mid-2000s, someone who had probably never taught themselves anyway. You were accredited for one lesson out of one thousand. It means literally nothing.


3. "I'm going to support you through this procedure"

Read as: I'm going to collect stockpiles of evidence to use against you in future tribunals.

Response: Stabbing someone in the heart while smiling still constitutes murder I'm afraid, however pleasant the presentation. So many of the great and good have been chopped down unnecessarily, it hurts. Talking to a teacher like they are an expendable commodity and that they are stupid means you’ve probably never grasped that you work in a school and not a business.


4. "How many sublevels of progress has the child in your class made?"

Read as: I see learning as a series of measurable hoops that need to be jumped through.

Response: Do you realise the difference between a single sublevel of progress and another is a child having a bad day? Do you realise you can’t measure a change in educational attainment like you would a heartbeat? Come on, let's try and see a child’s educational development as something deeper than some finite and topsy-turvey movement of a pendulum. Finally, levels were supposed to be summative not formative. Please, please take note.


5. "I don't do any work at home"

Read as: My organisation is superior to yours and I value my family more than you do.

Response: I'm happy for you, I really am. If you've found the secret that is eluding so many others – well done. However, lauding your success over others, many of whom may have entirely different lives to you is, well, cringe.

Thomas Rogers is a teacher who runs and tweets @RogersHistory

For more columns by Tom, view his back catalogue

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and Instagram, and like Tes on Facebook


Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you