“I’ll never be a dictatorial teacher,” you swear. “My classroom will be a sanctuary of rational discussion and cooperation,” you promise. Then comes Friday afternoon, a flood of “But why?” and it all goes to hell.
There is nothing more fist-bitingly awkward than a teacher trying to be down with the kids. Slap yourself on the wrist for slang, high-fives and, worst of all, addressing groups of teenagers as if they were your buddies.
So true! So snappy! And so utterly clichéd as to communicate nothing other than your penchant for grating turns of phrase.
Among the many methods of getting a class to pipe down, “Shhhhhhh” is at the bottom of the heap. For good reason. If you’ve tried and failed to grab their attention, you know that blowing like a possessed bicycle pump at the front of the room is not going to do the trick. But you do it anyway.
Technically true, yes, but also an unfortunate sign that you’ve turned into the kind of teacher you used to daydream about pelting with pens.
Another flashing marker on your one-way journey to ludicrous teacher stereotype. And, actually, it is your time they’re wasting, as that hurried break time cup of tea fades out of view.
You know it’s going horribly wrong when this one flies out of your mouth. Intended, of course, as a motivational tool (read: kick up the arse) this comes across as weirdly petty and competitive against someone you’re employed to support.
Emotional blackmail for beginners. It can be devastatingly effective when deployed by a tearful parent, but infinitely less so from a frustrated teacher to a roomful of off-the-wall students.
You want to connect with your pupils, and show them your human side. But you both know they’re only nodding along to stories of your favourite book/first pet/teenage band so they can switch off while you gab on.
We’re certainly not in it for money, are we? Dreams of “You changed my life” speeches might be what’s keeping you going, but asking a grumpy pupil to conceive of gratitude in the throes of a strop is like asking them to sketch a fourth dimension.