Six things that make teachers angry in schools

From toilets to stealing board markers, these things need sorting if you want a harmonious school, argues Gemma Corby

Gemma Corby

Angry teacher

Schools are generally friendly places to be. 

However, like all workplaces, there are certain triggers that can really rub people up the wrong way, ranging from the trivial to the profound.

Here are six of the most common reasons teachers kick-off. 

1. Kitchen nightmares

Anyone who has ever worked in a school knows what a contentious place the staffroom kitchen is. Half drunk mugs of tea piled up high in the sink, almost obscuring the sign that reads “Any mug left here overnight will be DESTROYED” (complete with a crude Clipart image of a bomb – just to hammer the message home); mouldy lunchboxes; sugar in the coffee jar – the list is endless. 

I can barely bring myself to recall the time I went to eat my lunch only to find that it had been consumed by someone else: the memory is too painful. 

And if you decide to have school dinners instead, be aware of the unwritten rule that male PE teachers get 250 per cent more dinner than female geography teachers. I could often be found in the dinner hall doing my best Oliver Twist impression.

Essentially, don’t mess with a teacher when they are hungry or thirsty. If you do, be prepared to face the consequences. 

2. Classroom poltergeists

You know, the ones who move your tables without putting them back. Or write on your board and neglect to clean it. Or worse still, borrow your best board pen and forget to return it to its special place in your top drawer…

It never bothered me, of course. I definitely never left any notes to said ghosts explaining what would happen if they touched my stuff again. Nope, not me… 

3. The blame game

It’s a perfect storm: staff off with stress, teachers teaching out of subject, computers going slower than a Year 9 at the end of lunchtime and then – shock-horror – the GCSE mock results are not where they should be. 

Cue frantic photocopying and a quickly scheduled meeting, where heads of department are made to feel like this is all their fault, and an atmosphere as tense as when Caroline Flack emerges on Love Island to tell someone they need to pack their suitcase.

Leaders, if you are going to do this, expect a reaction. 

4. Toilets

All we really want is toilet paper (that’s tissue paper – not tracing paper, thank you), a lock that works, an adequate number of functioning toilets and some soap. It’s not too much to ask, is it? 

This can be a source of conflict between the often predominantly male site team and the usually predominantly female teaching staff. 

5. Sets

To set or not to set – that is the question (although usually not in the maths department, where setting seems to be a given). 

And once you’ve settled the setting debate, there is then the question of who teaches which group. 

All answers are ideologically driven and teaching is a pretty broad church: arguments are inevitable. 

6. Change for the sake of change

Teachers are generally flexible, but too much change – and change for the sake of change – will almost always prompt response. 

That may be an angry rant in the privacy of the WhatsApp group, it may be the cold stare of disapproval during the meeting, or it may be the full-on public rage that makes everyone shrink in their seat in (supportive) embarrassment.

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

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