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T & L

Ten things everyone should know about teachers

By January 3, 201663 Comments

Teachers are enthusiastic and dynamic, highly intelligent and share a passion for wanting to make a difference in this world. They can also be quirky however and this is as a result of there being no other job like theirs. They become a breed apart from the rest of the working world in many respects, living in Teacherland and driving themselves towards a goal of ongoing improvement. With that in mind, I hope they will find something here that is recognisable within themselves. It is their ability to laugh at themselves, reflect and develop that I admire most.

1. Teachers are partial to coffee – and cake come to think of it. The morning wouldn’t be the same without the caffeine fix. This is in part because as the academic year goes on, the tiredness felt becomes extreme. Teachers on the whole do not like to take time off ‘sick’ and so they use the wake up juice of life to kick start their day. The cake in the staffroom is always sure to bring a gaggle of teachers to the table. Despite protests of cutting down their sugar intake, teachers can rarely resist the lure of cake.


2. Teachers tend to hoard things. ‘Just in case’ they need them in the future. One teacher I know now forces herself to resist that temptation having managed to collect the equivalent of a freight train carrier worth of resources that sat redundant for a year. They can’t help themselves but to wonder, will there come a time when those resources might be useful…

3. In the summer term, teachers often find themselves sporting a ‘teacher tan’. The sun will get to their faces and arms. The teacher tan is deceptive. It creates a healthy look at first glance that might fool civvies into thinking they have already been on holiday. This will only have been as far as the school field for Sports Day or local field trip however.

4. Teachers have a ‘teacher voice’. Not necessarily a shouting, loud voice, but a voice that denotes that they have their ‘teacher head’ on. Oh yes they have a ‘teacher head’ too… Once in ‘teacher’ mode, watch them fly. The face, the voice, the body language all fall into play.



5. Teachers have the ability to see the funny side of life. They are prepared to make fools of themselves for the benefit of their students and the learning. No onesie is too silly and no end of term pantomime or ‘staff have talent’ show is beyond them. They have a great sense of humour to the end.

6. Teachers tend to be seen as workaholics. In fact they are geeks – and proud. They love reading and they love learning and a good job too. If they didn’t, where would we be?! They can’t help themselves. The list is never ending and the drive to succeed and do their best pushes them to give that bit more than would normally be expected. They don’t intentionally put their jobs first, it is simply that they are highly committed individuals who set themselves standards above and beyond what is often considered reasonable. Maybe this is why they talk of a calling to the profession.

7. Teachers are flexible. Not in the yoga sense. They have the ability to think on their feet. Whether it be coming off plan in a lesson, juggling timetables or cover, they can adapt their thinking to change a situation. Resourceful most of the time, they can often be handy to have around!

8. Teachers can carry 4 bags, a pile of books, a cup of coffee and still open doors. It’s a multi-tasking gift.

9. Teachers are naturally sociable animals. They do love to chat. I think this comes from a lack of adult company during their working day. It can be lonely in a classroom sometimes and for as much as teachers love their students, very often there is no substitute for a quick chat – some often say it is too much ‘shop talk’… They can’t help it.

10. Teachers love stationery. They are stationery addicts! Sharpies, highlighters and post-its. They will often buy new stationery whilst out and about just because they cannot help themselves. And as for a new diary or notebook at the start of the school year… don’t get me started!

11. Bonus: Teachers make lists. Yes they do. They can’t help themselves.

When it comes down to it, teachers are human. They work hard, play hard and push themselves beyond their own limits. For this reason I know I can say wholeheartedly, they will have thoroughly enjoying the absence of the alarm and the time to open and sort their mail this holiday… Now, it’s back to the daily grind of marking, chasing work and dealing with the lovely children in our care. I hope you’ve found time for you this holiday. Here’s to 2016!



Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson, @ICTEvangelist. Click here to learn more.


  • Jayne says:

    Thanks! One partially rested teacher who is actually feeling ok about going back tomorrow – first time since n a number of years!!

  • Jo Collyer says:

    Thanks for writing this. It made me feel good to be a teacher, having many of these traits myself.

  • Ivor says:

    And the job is so wonderful the author has moved on.

  • Gaby Scott says:

    Nice list Mark! How funny you popped up on a friend’s Facebook with this post- good to see what you’re up to now. All the best, Gaby

  • Rikki Sheterline says:

    Sums up so many people I know.
    Thanks for the smiles!

  • Deb says:

    Lol! Yes teaching is not limited to a room full of kids!
    Great list! I’m all except the coffee & cake one….but I do have a weakness….chocolate!
    I love teaching and I’m looking forward to going back at end of Jan! Yay a few more weeks for me!

  • Deidrea says:

    A brilliant reflection on the life of a teacher. Yes the job has its challenges but is also bulked with rewards often, intrinsic.
    I look forward to the challenges and joys of my own class in September.
    Thank you Mark.

  • Tracy Fairless says:

    This is brilliant! The scary thing is it describes me to a T.

  • Helen waldron says:

    Brilliant. I Se my self in most of the above. Except for being a coffee addict, but the cake, more as the term progresses. The collecting of stationary resources efc, I had put down to genes and personality. I have now reclassified it to the qualities of a good teacher. Thanks for the insights.

  • Joy says:

    I can’t seem to stop being a teacher – saying “Well done”, whenever my golf friends play a good shot, using my “teacher” voice when wanting to gain attention, giving kids “high fives ” whenever I have the chance, etc, etcxx

  • Airlie says:

    Aaaagh off sick on first day back. Am actually gutted as it’s such an important day with so
    Much to do!! So yes. We do hate taking time off!! And I love number 8.

  • Olga Alves says:

    Thank you so much.

  • Margit Horsky says:

    Thank you from Italy…teachers are the same all over the world:-)

  • Malcolm says:

    I am retired now but find my teacher voice still works on dogs and old people.

  • Sarah McIver says:

    All absolutely me…plus I am tending to OCD about putting things in the right place…..I had to take early retirement to look after relatives and miss it every day….although on a day when it rains at Break Time and Lunch Time I don’t feel quite as envious!

  • Charlie meadows says:

    Brilliant writing describes me to a tee coupled with a complicated family life poor health gives me a lot tothink about post stroke in my wheel chair god luck to all teachers don’t forget your own welfare regards charlie

  • Martin says:

    So true! Thanks for taking the time!

  • Par T. says:

    The list is so great! I’ve got the teacher voice too, love coffee, and cake. I carried three bags to school today, plus coffee but had to go back to the car for the rest of my school bags. Teachers are using little suitcases with wheels too- mental note, might need one this year. Thanks for the funny and insightful list, LOL 😀

  • Lynda says:

    So true!! you really picked out all the traits of a teacher!! made me feel a lot better about my “quirks!”

  • Lynda says:

    Great list – after 36 years and still enjoying working with teenagers and teaching my subject I am all of these i am sure! My drink preference is tea but coffee will do when tea isn’t available!
    Pretty certain you could add – obsessive about things being in the right places in their classrooms – can’t be doing with the pencil crayon colours being mixed up!!!!
    Able to work in small chunks of time – being constantly interrupted – able to go back to tasks after breaks for teaching etc – and even remembering what to do next!

  • gerda Jacobs says:

    Baie Goed. Sien myself!

  • Immana says:

    Very true. Here is wishing all educators a wonderful term ahead

  • Linda Cronje says:

    Thank you Mark, this is brilliant having been told I’m “just a teacher”. It’s refreshing to read some positive words about the best profession/calling in the world. All 10 points are me totally.

  • Julie says:

    Brilliant reading – so true , apart from No 2 – the hoarders! (just applies to me I think) I thought I was a low level hoarder but thenI moved class and had to de clutter the classroom I moved into. The TV programme The Hoarders came to mind! By new mantra in life is; I WILL NEVER EVER EVER HOARD paperwork and resources!

  • Lyndsey says:

    This amused me….especially the stationary addiction….my own kids are even acquiring that habit! Perhaps teachers in the making 🙂

  • Jenny says:

    That’s me!!

  • Ellen Volmink says:

    Thank you Mark for this excellent article. How do you know me so well? Hahaha. I do believe teachers are BORN and not made. So even after official retirement, all the above still applies -just in different settings. Stay Blessed Mark.

  • Chris Rudman says:

    Thank you, Mark. An excellent piece of writing. You really emphasise the fact that teachers are not “just teachers”, but that we have a proffesion to recon with. Iy also makes me appreciate my career even more as I also am of the opinion that this is my calling. God placed us here and we have a huge responsibility to fulfill and enjoy.

  • Marilyn Scott says:

    A teachers job doesn’t start at the first period bell and end at the last. Their job is very underrated. Teachers jobs are very demanding , more so these days. It is so very satisfying when they hopefully see their efforts influencing the successful lives of future generations.
    It indeed takes a very special person to be a teacher.

  • After being a builder for38 years, joined Bundaberg TAFE, struggled through degree at Griffiths Uni online for 2 years, and spent the most rewarding 15 years of my life, training all the great local young builders of Bundy, Maryborough, and South Burnett. Best reward is when, 10 years later, they contact me for building advice and problem- solving, especially in relation to roofing and stair construdtion.

  • Sarie says:

    This is very true. Especially teachers don’t take time off – even when they are not well.

  • Imms Aron says:

    This is so true, teachers are the same everywhere. Cheers, from Namibia

  • Patricia says:

    Thank you Mark. So true – all of it. I love how you have pointed out how flexible we are. Another quality I would like to add is that we are more than just “teachers”. On any given day, we could be called on to be educator, mum, dad, lunch money provider, sew- upperer, counsellor, bolsterer of spirits etc. thanks for the humorous look into the inner circle of a teacher’s day.

  • Susie Phillips says:

    I’ve just left FE, to go into the private sector, dare I say I miss the stress!

  • Sue Thomas says:

    And the jokes and anecdotes you can store to use later….always enough of those…I said to my Grade 1 class….The first computer was as big as this classroom. Silence. Then one little girl raised her hand…Then how big was the mouse?

  • Alastair says:

    Not forgetting the January weather when the PE staff have to go outside in the rain and sleet. When I retired I donated a coffee machine to the music teacher.

  • Rachael says:

    Love this article. I am all of the above. Wondered if you could also add the skill of being able to hold the bladder for long periods of time? ” I’ll just do this before I go to the loo, oh and maybe just copy that and have a quick word with another teacher…… And THEN I’ll treat myself to a wee!

  • Nicky says:

    I work as a teacher in Australia. I prefer tea and chocolate to cake and coffee but it’s incredible how teachers with a vocation are the same the world over. I was excited to buy lots of stationery and files ( colour coded) in the sales. The big difference Down Under is “being brave and calm in the face of dangerous wild life”. At least working in Europe we never had to worry about the school snake policy.

  • Jan Braman says:

    One thing was missing … Being a retired teacher and over the years, hoping for ‘snow days off”. This is from Portland, Oregon, USA! I loved our past two days of snow and even ice. It was great to reflect on the weather days we had to stay home, over the years. Instead of staying in, we walked for our groceries then built a snowman!!! Students are not the only ones to hope!!!

  • Aless in Oz says:

    With 3 teachers (2 still working) in our family of 4, all of the points relate to all of us!! I would like to add my ‘teacher’s look’ (a scarey stare – quoting my son when he was young and once one of my students)!! I perfected that look on Day 1 in a primary school classroom, and it worked every time, when used carefully. I went on to use it with my 2 children, to great effect, even before they went to school themselves. Having dark brown eyes helped!!

  • Mary says:

    Thanks Mark…I thought my stationery addiction was a family trait. I’d like to add being highly aware of grammar and spelling errors used on public signs. My local supermarket had an incorrectly spelt aisle indicator for ‘stationery’ for years. They have recently refurbished and at long last it is correct! I’m an Aussie teacher and currently on holidays although having changed grades and classrooms, I’ve been into school on four occasions already and will be in again tomorrow and Friday. Love my job!

  • Rick says:

    I would like to add 3 extra ‘secrets’ to what you should know about TEFL teachers:
    1) they never wash their cups after themselves, too busy, you know
    2) if a photocopier run outs of paper and is refilled by a TT (tefl teacher, I promise it has nothing to do with tard), they will put the exact amount of paper they need as it APPARENTLY takes less time then maxing it out
    3) closing windows and switching the lights off is a rocket science, again, too busy with being the first ones to leave the school
    Very special breed, I am surprised most of them even get out of bed!

  • Patty Salguero says:

    Thank you Mark, for this good reminder article about ourselves as educators, to feel there are other who also feel we are as human as others. Great article, thanks again for letting to know the world who teachers are. Greetings from Peru.

  • Dr Deon van Tonder says:

    Spot on! Awesome writing. To be a teacher is a gift. I was teaching for 22 years and enjoyed every moment. Today I’m privileged to educate students to become excellent teachers. I will live my teaching passion day by day. Good luck and blessings to every teacher in the world, this task isn’t easy, be proud because you’re handpicked.

  • Raph Ak. says:

    Second to my parents, Teachers are my next great mentors. I love the work they do! The passion that drives them! And that mystery that motivates them! I look forward to paying tribute to all Teachers, especially all who taught me.

    Q: What is the teacher’s voice?

  • Helen Williams says:

    I retired after 37 years of teaching (mid-school, USA, New Mexico) and I miss it everyday. I gave away all the hoarded materials from my classroom and am still finding “school stuff” in my home. I have used the teacher voice and teacher look on children who are misbehaving in public with mixed results; my teacher friends think it is amusing when I do but my sister is embarrassed. I have had adults freeze when my teacher voice says “Stop!” One of my greatest joys is when an adult says to me “Didn’t you teach at . . . ?” and names a school. It is a great reward to see them grown up and having good lives.

  • denise says:

    76 and still teaching

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