4 of the most annoying student questions (and what I really want to reply)

In the years before I became a supply teacher when I had a regular teaching job, the single greatest cause of despair, frustration and stress was the never-ending litany of stupid things said to me by the school’s management. Another ill-conceived government directive to implement, a new way to analyse classroom data, a stern warning for marking the kids’ work in the wrong colour pen, and so on. Tes reports.

I worked out early on in my career that when given a pointless task to do, a task that was going to waste my time and have no meaningful impact on the students’ learning, the best response was to nod enthusiastically, agree to whatever ridiculous thing I was being asked to do, and then carry on as before, totally ignoring the request. Nine times out of ten this seemed to work. As I got older, wiser and increasingly cynical, I’d occasionally let the powers that be know just how stupid I thought their ideas were. It was around this time I decided a permeant post might no longer be the best place for me.

The students would often say daft things too of course, but here the strategy had to be a little different. Faced with yet another absurd question from a student, every teacher runs through an internal version of what they’d like to say, before giving the acceptable, redacted response. Here then, are some of the more irritating questions we all get asked on a daily basis, and what we’re really thinking but are too professional to say out loud.

Why are you picking on me? Everyone else is talking too

On the face of it this appears to be a reasonable point, as there are nearly always several culprits and it doesn’t seem fair to single out only one person. However, what I’m usually thinking is…

“It’s true, you’re not the only one talking, but you are relentless in your ability to avoid doing any work and to distract everybody else. You, far more than any other student in the class, probably the whole school, are irritating beyond belief and, I and doubtless everyone else in the room, wishes you would just, for a few seconds, shut the hell up.”

Read more 4 of the most annoying student questions (and what I really want to reply)

Can you think of more? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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Categories: Infant, Primary, Secondary and Teaching.


  1. Marion

    So negative – “management” and students all saying stupid things that you ignore? Wow. I can see why you went into supply……

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