Teaching is not easy and there are rules that teachers learn over time. The unwritten rules of being a teacher are the rules that will make your job easier and lessen the stress surrounding teaching.
If you’re just starting off your teaching career or just want a reminder that you are not alone in this profession, check out the rules below. They may be just what you need to get through the school year!
25 Unwritten Rules for Teachers
1 – Document, Document, Document
If you don’t document what happens it is very much like it never happened. Take the time to document everything!
2 – The Secretary is the Backbone of the School
You may think the principal wields the power in the school, but veteran teachers know that it’s really the secretaries who make things happen.
3 – The Custodians and Cafeteria Workers Are Stressed Too
These key people in the school are often overlooked but they are responsible for keeping the building clean and in good shape and feeding our students. They are stressed too. Check on them!
4 – Build Relationships
Relationships are key to everything you do. Build relationships with students, parents, co-workers, admins, support staff, and everyone else in the building. Be that teacher who knows everyone and who everyone knows.
5 – Parents Are Your Partners
Too often there is a perception that parents are against teachers. In reality, while there are some who are not advocates for teachers, the majority of parents want to partner with you to help their child succeed. Nurture those relationships.
6 – Flexibility is a Must
Things change daily in the classroom and you have to be able to flow with it. Flexibility in plans and attitude are essential.
7 – Always Be Professional
As one teacher suggested, always think in the back of your mind, “I’m being recorded” and then act accordingly. While you are hopefully not being recorded all of the time, it’s a good reminder to act as though you are.
8 – Parent Frustration/Anger Is Usually Misdirected
When parents come to you angry or frustrated, don’t take it to heart. Often their feelings are misdirected to you when they’re actually frustrated by not being able to help their child succeed. If you’ve built a good rapport ahead of time, these incidences become fewer and far between.
9 – You Will Never Be Done
There is always something else to do as a teacher. You will never be done all of your tasks.
10 – Never Be Alone in a Room with a Student with the Door Closed
Protect yourself and your student. Keep the door open or have other people in the room with you.
11 – Be Careful What You Post on Social Media
The reality is that what you post will be scrutinized and if there is anything controversial it can be detrimental to your career. Even if your accounts are private, keep the controversy off social media.
12 – Never Friend Current Students and Parents
Speaking of social media, never accept friend requests from current students and parents. Keep your private life private.
13 – Trust No One
It’s sad that this is one of the unspoken rules of teaching, but the truth is that many times teachers have to look after themselves. And if that means not confiding in co-workers or admins to protect yourself and your career, that is what you have to do. Not everyone is going to be your friend.
14 – Comfy Shoes Are a Must
Those cute, unsupportive shoes may look perfect in the store, but they are not going to cut it in the classroom. Invest in a pair of comfortable, high-quality shoes that will cushion your feet throughout the school day.
15 – Go to the Bathroom Whenever You Can
If you have the opportunity to use the restroom, use it! Never pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom because those opportunities are usually few and far between.
16 – Start Over Every Day with a Clean Slate
Don’t carry yesterday’s stress and worries into the new day. Start every day fresh. That includes not holding onto students’ behavior from the day before. Let it go, show them grace, and give them a clean start.
17 – Less is More
Less worksheets, less homework, less rules…less is always more. The relationships and time spent connecting is always more important than busy work and adding more for students to do.
18 – Make Sure Your Students Feel Safe and Loved
You can’t teach children who feel unsafe, uncomfortable, and unloved in your classroom. Make them feel like they are your world during the school day and they will be much more likely to display behavior that you want them to display.
19 – You Are Expected to Go Above and Beyond
There is no bare minimum in teaching. You are always expected to go above and beyond and with little appreciation shown for your efforts. Above and beyond is normal – not something that’s uncommon.
20 – It’s More Work to Be Sick
If you’re sick and don’t have a substitute teacher binder prepared in advance, it may be more work than it is worth to take a sick day.
21 – You Don’t Have to Be a Pinterest/Instagram Teacher to Be Effective
Don’t focus on how your classroom looks more than what’s happening inside of it. You don’t have to have a classroom that’s decked out in color-coordinating bunting to be a great teacher. The window dressings are often unnecessary.
22 – You’ll Spend More Money on Your Classroom Than You Think
Teachers spend a lot of money on their classroom and their teaching supplies. Whatever you think you’ll spend, triple it and you might be closer to the real amount.
23 – Learn to Have a Good Poker Face
Even when things get to you and you want to lash out, keep your cool and have that poker face firmly in place.
24 – Don’t Gossip
There is enough drama in schools that you don’t need to add to it by gossiping.
25 – You May Not Like All of Your Students
While you will love the majority of students like they are your own kids, there will be some that you just don’t click with. That’s okay. Be their teacher, not their friend.
What are some of the unwritten rules of being a teacher that you abide by? Share them with us in the comments below!