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20 Things Only Teachers Would Understand

20 Things Only Teachers Would Understand

When I became a teacher a long time ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into! But I loved teaching, I really did. Of course, I escaped into teacher training, then management and administration but ran screaming back to the classroom. The management job nearly killed me, so thanks to teaching, I am alive and well to-day. Here are some of the things teachers and myself go through on a daily basis. Are you sure you want to become a teacher? Read about these 20 things that only teachers would understand. Then, decide if you still want to be a teacher.

1. Keep calm – you’re a teacher

If you are a trifle impatient or bad-tempered, then forget it. You will have to put up with noisy individuals, who have no interest in learning, and stupid bureaucracy at every turn, so you just have to keep calm. Of course, there are wonderful students who are a joy to teach, but they are few and far between.

2. It’s hard not to have a favorite

Watch the video below. The teacher thinks the guy’s joke is really funny – he goes on to get an award! But what about the poor guy who actually made the joke and got no credit? Sometimes, it is just impossible not to have favorites.

3. You have to be tough to stay the course

Did you know that in the USA and the UK, about 40% to 50% of teachers leave in the first 5 years. That figure is up by 30% compared to 20 years ago. Instead of concentrating on reducing teachers’ paperwork and giving them more support, the debate has centred on a minority who happen to be bad teachers.

4. Violent behavior is scary

Recently, a 16 year old was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment because he stabbed his teacher to death at a school in Leeds in the UK. That boy was a model student but changed once he had been diagnosed with diabetes.

A friend of mine does supply (substitute) teaching and she told me how scary it was when a fight broke out between two students. She suffered from PTSD for a time after this event. She is always wary when the agency offers her work and ask about her ‘behavior management skills.’ That is a clue that she might be facing violent and aggressive behavior if she agrees to teach at that school.

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5. Giving low grades can be tough

I had a Math teacher who always gave me 2 out of 10 for my Algebra homework. “I’ll be generous, I’ll give you 2,” she would shriek. I can’t believe she was finding it tough to give me what I deserved, but I did when I became a teacher. This reminds me of the corny joke where the pupil says,

Pupil: I don’t think I deserved zero on this test!
Teacher: I agree, but that’s the lowest mark I could give you!

6. Questions and answers are your bread and butter

Questions, tests, grades, answers. It seems teachers have to be like the chief prosecutor in the courtroom. Then there are nasty consequences if somebody cannot answer all your questions.

Teacher: Why can’t you ever answer any of my questions?
Pupil: Well if I could there wouldn’t be much point in me being here!

7. Nobody is listening

That is what you think when you have explained something for the umpteenth time. You count to three, then try again. Water on stone, water on stone.

8. Of course you hate cell phones

Yes, you banned these but there is always someone sneaking one in and texting his friends. You know that all these devices just add to the chaos surrounding cheating in exams and also cyberbullying.

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You wish that there were an actual law banning these infernal devices from the classroom. You think fondly of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain where the regional government has actually made it illegal to have these phones in the classroom.

9. Get ready to be stared at

You have to be on stage all the time. The worst thing is that once you spill some coffee on your clothes, you are going to suffer a 100 times more than any other person would. Everybody is staring at you. When things go well though, it is not so bad being center stage!

10. Student howlers will make you laugh

One of the great things about teaching is the laughs you get from student errors in tests and in the classroom too. Here are some of my favourite ones on the video below with the ‘The Funny Teacher’, Mark Schumacher.

11. Teaching is rewarding

“The one exclusive sign of thorough knowledge is the power of teaching.”- Aristotle

Let’s face it. There is a great reward in passing on knowledge and helping children and teens develop into balanced and responsible citizens (hopefully!).

12. Paperwork will probably drive you crazy

Teachers in Scotland have complained about the ‘Amazonian forest’ worth of paperwork linked to their report writing, grading homework and recording. There seems to be an inordinate time spent on entering data and then sifting through it. Teachers complain that there is not nearly enough input on how to create engaging lessons. That would be much more beneficial for both teachers and students, according to a report in The Washington Post.

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13. Teachers get stressed out

It is true that teachers are under enormous pressure from the school authorities, from parents and the students themselves. Many teachers get stressed out, but there are many ways that they can devote more time for relaxing activities outside the classroom.

14. Teachers are more likely to get ill

Working with so many people in an enclosed space is likely to lead to more viral and bacterial infections. Just a case of numbers really. Health studies show that, not surprisingly, teachers are more liable to suffer from laryngitis and bronchitis than those in other professions. Teaching students about basic health hygiene can help everybody and keeping a hand sanitizer within easy reach is always a great idea.

15. Teachers and parents have to get along

In the past it was just PTA meetings, report cards and a few conferences annually. Now both parties expect closer collaboration and that can be really helpful for the students. Parents want to know more about what is going on in the classroom and teachers are really happy that somebody is taking a real interest in their children’s progress. It’s a win- win situation and that should always be kept in mind.

16. Changes in the curriculum loom like dark clouds

Just when a teacher has got used to the new syllabus, a note from the school authorities reveals that further changes are on the way. The teacher sighs. So do the students! High school students often protest as well. Colorado high schoolers protested about the changes to the history syllabus which, they felt, would downplay the role of civil disobedience in US history.

“It’s our history; don’t make it mystery.”- Colorado students’ slogan

17. Parents who think their kids are being bullied

Of course bullying can be a serious problem. Parents and teachers can work together to solve it. But when a parent arrives and tells you that a certain pupil is picking on her daughter and must be punished, then the teacher thinks that maybe this is just one side of the story! A much better approach would be for the parent to flag up the bullying issue and ask how they can solve the problem together.

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18. Parents who complain about too much homework

When this happens, the teacher wonders how their kids will react to this. Maybe they will start to take it easy, knowing that their wonderful parents are going to solve the problem. A much better approach would be for the parents to help the kids manage their homework time better, instead of complaining and whining about it.

19. Teachers are supposed to be perfect

Every teacher has to be perfect but the reality is very different from that ridiculous expectation. Teachers get a hard time from the press and yet they are the lowest paid of most of the professions. How many perfect doctors or lawyers can you name? Now you understand why so few graduates want to go in for teaching. Why not pay them more and give them better working conditions?

20. Help! I’m sinking

When a new teacher walks into the classroom, he or she faces enormous challenges. Just think of the behavior issues and how to manage a large class. Also, they are crying out for support in making really great lessons plans and how to deal with a few brats in the class who can ruin everything. Next time you meet a new teacher, smile at her!

So, you still want to be a teacher? Great! Let us know in the comments how an inspiring teacher at school helped you make that choice.

Featured photo credit: Olympic Week – Teacher for a day/ Chicago 2016 via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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