11 Teachers Confess The Things They Wish They Could Tell Their Students, But Don't

"Grades are not everything."

Teachers spend a lot of time talking to their students as they educate them on a variety of subjects and help them grow. But there are still plenty of moments when they refrain from saying what's on their mind — even if those lessons could help them immensely in the long run. 

On Quora — a social networking site where people answer questions posed by the community — one user asked, "What's one thing that teachers wish they could tell their students but don't?" and received more than 50 different responses. 

We read through them and pulled some of the most intriguing responses to share with you. 


1. “Your parents are wrong.”

"Racism, intolerance, pseudoscience, misogyny—they all begin at home," Justin Franco wrote. "Middle school students aren't shy about where they get their world views, and while I would never want to discourage healthy disagreement and critical thought, there are some ideas that parents force on their children that are just plain wrong. I'd love to call it like I see it, but I usually have to find less direct ways of combating ignorance — especially since students don't see it as ignorance." 

2. "Tell me what you need, dammit!"

"If I learned anything in my years at college, it's that the way that works for me doesn't work for everyone. I really, really want to see you read that book, or solve that math problem, or understand the effect of that experiment, but when that doesn't happen, I need you to help me identify where we went wrong," Austin Schopper wrote

"You can understand Shakespeare. If you fail the test, it's not because you are stupid, it's because we tried a method that didn't work for you. As soon as you don't understand something, say something. Don't let us get halfway through the unit before I realize you are still stuck on Scene 1. Sure, I can use trial and error, but that's a really bad method when we have the option of communicating." 

3. "I can’t be a comedian and entertain you to win your interest. Teachers, schools and universities are preparing you for life, which will not always be fun and which, in fact, requires hard work and dedication to succeed even at a mediocre level."

"How can you possibly expect to learn if you take no responsibility for doing so. Insulting and criticizing your instructors and saying things like, 'I hate this class,' is effortless," Pavlov Pascale wrote. "The problem arises that you are as yet too young to understand that one day YOU will be on the hot seat, with everyone scrutinizing YOUR performance to see if it's up to snuff, and then it won't be so easy to point the finger. Only then will you look back on your years as a student and realize how much you've really wasted." 

4. "I wish I could have told my sixth graders that who they were yesterday, who they are today, and who they will be tomorrow are very different."

"Life doesn't go the way we predict it will. We're not all going to be millionaires by 25; we're not all going to be able to afford a house, car and 2.5 kids. You may not care about learning social studies now, but maybe one day you'll wish you had paid more attention because you'd rather be an archeologist than a grocery store manager, or you'd have rather been a video game developer than a math teacher," Vic Powell wrote. "Instead, I spent far more time saying 'eyes on me,' and 'the trash can is not a basketball hoop.'"

5. "I wish I could tell my students that I’ve been there."


"No, I'm not talking about undermining their experiences by simply saying 'me too!'. I mean I wish I could tell them how deeply I care for them and want them to succeed, and that I am trying the best I possibly can because I have been through extreme adverse experiences and I empathize with them," Michaela Unruh wrote

"When I hear from students that they are in an abusive relationship, that they've contemplated suicide, that they're so anxious they can't function, that they lost a loved one, that they don't have any friends and feel utterly worthless, I wish that (in addition to telling the counselor) I could have a moment of pure honesty with them and let them know that I feel their pain, that I desperately want them to know it can get better." 

6. "Blaming your parents is a crappy excuse."

"Of course, your parents have a major effect on your daily life but you are the ONLY who can decide whether or not you are going to be the best you can be. Take responsibility for your own actions and suck it up, buttercup," Debra Allred wrote

7. "Grades are not everything."

"Saying such a thing would risk going against the ethos of a school and some students would not be mature enough to handle the message and assume I am giving them a green light to not at least try and get good grades," Paul Shillito wrote. "The hard reality of Life is that a student can come out of school with a list of A*s but if they haven't got the social skills to interact and communicate with others, life will be hard. By the same token, there are people that come out of school with barely a GCSE to their name and end up successful precisely because they have some other skill. Sure, good grades correlate with life chances but sure as hell don't guarantee it alone!"

8. "Knowledge of a subject is less important than knowledge of people."

"The educational system is inadequate. It is set up to teach students how to do things. It gives them the equipment and materials and they are tested on the basis of what they have learnt. When they go out in the world with a diploma in one hand and high hopes in the other,  they expect to be greeted with open arms by employers. But they are not. Too often they find that their college knowledge will not find much application in their working world but worse, whatever job they get to start will often be something they could have learnt in a matter of weeks," Stan Hayward wrote.

9. “You are strong."

"You have so much potential and courage within you," Elena Tran wrote. "Your skin color does not make you lesser than another person nor does it limit what you will accomplish in your life. There is power in who you are! In your past, your families, your hair your hands your eyes. I see you shining in your beautiful selves, and I believe in you. I believe in the goodness in your heart, the gentleness in your soul, the curiosity in your mind. I will wrap you in my love so that you are protected from all that threaten to make you feel anything less than who you are."

10. “Your parents are pressuring you too much."

"I know parents want the best for their kids," Justin Franco wrote. "But as an advanced content teacher, I see a lot of students who are pushed to the breaking point by parents who are too eager to see their kids 'succeed.' Every year, I have a handful of students who apply for advanced high school programs who have no desire or motivation to be in those advanced programs, but they're putting in those applications at their parents' behest. Telling students to go against their parents' wishes might help give them the confidence they need to take a more appropriate path, but it would invite a conflict that the student and I would both lose." 

11. "I’m a human, too. Treat me like one."


"If a kid is rude and demanding, I'm far less lenient. To the kid who is polite and works hard, I'm flexible and understanding," an anonymous user wrote. "Be polite to those who hold authority over you, even if you don't like them, what they teach, or the system. You're going to have to do this in your future job, might as well learn how to do it now." 


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