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what teachers really mean…

February 11, 2015 , , , , , ,

stressed-teacher-2dfgpryOne of my all-time favourite books is Roald Dahl’s wonderful “Matilda”. As a teacher, I have always loved the descriptions in the possibilities for report-writing…

“Your son Maximilian”, I would write, “is a total wash-out. I hope you have a family business you can push him into when he leaves school because he sure as heck won’t get a job anywhere else.”

Or if I were feeling lyrical that day, I might write, “It is a curious truth that grasshoppers have their hearing organs in the sides of the abdomen. Your daughter Vanessa, judging by what she’s learnt this term, has no hearing organs at all.”

I might even delve deeper into natural history and say, “The periodical cicada spends six years as a grub underground, and no more than six days as a free creature of sunlight and air. Your son Wilfred has spent six years as a grub in this school and we are still waiting for him to emerge from the chrysalis.”

A particularly poisonous little girl might sting me into saying, “Fiona has the same glacial beauty as an iceberg, but unlike the iceberg she has absolutely nothing below the surface.”

SO many times I have absolutely wanted to quote Roald Dahl…but alas, I am not the literary wit that he is…and I also need to eat! Teachers have a unique language when it comes to writing reports, with a “twilight zone” between what they write as to what they actually mean. The following descriptions have been collected from all the wonderful + long-suffering teachers I have worked with at Brighton Secondary School + the Conservatorium High School, who have this down to a fine art, and a couple of gems I have refined over the years….!


Bubbly Doesn’t shut up, verbal diarrhoea.
Energetic Cannot sit still.
Innovative Doesn’t seem to be able to process + follow instructions.
Has participated in every lesson Very likely without cracking a smile, being engaged, or handing in any work…therefore this is the only thing I can truthfully + in good conscience write about them.
Has attempted every task But have I actually seen anything to mark? Nup.
Has made consistent progress Extremely consistent. That is, none.
Recalcitrant Meaning: “Having an obstinately uncooperative attitude towards authority or discipline.” Is point-blank what needs to be said, but wrapped up in a fancy word which may buy the student 3-10 seconds more life while their parents Google it.
Has unique individual taste Needs to pull their skirt out from between their butt cheeks or return the shorts/pants that are 11 sizes too big and buy a belt.
Creative approach Does everything but the task at hand.
Extremely thorough + meticulous Anal-retentive.
Needs to develop the ability to respond with more detail Needs to answer using complete sentences.
Would benefit from a regular routine Doesn’t practise. EVER.
Would benefit from some new repertoire to further extend their skills. I have heard the same piece for the past semester and I have memorised the chord progression, written an alternative one in my head and a cool little counter-melody. Would you like to hear it?
Forward Is right in your face.
Confident Is like a foghorn in the middle of the room + has no concept of how to listen, or indeed, that other students exist.
I look forward to teaching your child I’ve never met your kid! They never made it to a single bloomin’ lesson! That’s talent!


Over to you…do you have any literary moments of genius to share?

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