Translating Teacherese

Filed under: Opinions

Welcome to Time Out, the place parents go for witty insight, tongue-in-cheek advice, and calming reassurance from a seasoned parenting veteran who believes laughing together beats sobbing alone when it comes to crayons in the dryer and other hazards of childhood.

It occurred to me that many parents are oblivious to the secret meaning behind a teacher's carefully chosen words about a student's behavior. To help understand what is really being said, here are some common sayings translated by someone with a degree in Teacherese. (Cut and paste for a handy reference during Parent/Teacher conference time!)

When a teacher says:
"Johnny was very enthusiastic today!"
What he/she means is:
The kid yelled out (wrong) answers before anyone else all day, even after repeated hand-raising reminders.

When a teacher says:
"Sally shows strong leadership skills."
What is meant is:
Sally consistently shoves, cries, and/or bullies her way to the front of the line.

When a teacher says:
"Johnny was a great friend today!"
What he/ she means is:
Johnny let the classmate with strong leadership skills have cuts in line without going all Fight Club.

When a teacher says:
"Sally shows a high level of self-esteem.
What he/she means is:
Sally thinks she is never wrong, even when logic and facts show that she is.

When a teacher says:
"Johnny was very active!"
What he/she means is:
The little bugger didn't sit down ALL DAY and injured 2 or more classmates.

When a teacher says:
"Sally was a little active today."
It means:
The same as"very active" only with no visible injuries to classmates.

When a teacher says:
"Johnny had a little accident today."
What is really being said is:
This was no damn accident. He peed his pants in spite of being asked forty-seven times if he needed to use the bathroom and if he's be stuck with some urine-related nickname through high school, it's not my fault.

When a teacher says:
"Sally had a little trouble listening today."
It translates to:
Sally was a total jerk. Also? I don't get paid enough.

When a teacher says:
"Johnny got a little upset today."
It means:
If Johnny acted like this as an adult, a neighbor would have called the cops.

When a teacher says:
"Sally was very loving today!"
What is really being said is:
If the kid wasn't clinging to my leg, she was sitting on my lap. I have no feeling from the hips down.

When a teacher says:
"Johnny and Sally seem to have become special friends!"
What is meant is:
That cute little hand-holding has turned into a kissy-face situation.

When a teacher says:
"Johnny and Sally seem to have be getting along better."
What he/she means is:
The two have put their hatred aside and now team torment others.

When a teacher says:
"Johnny has a very active imagination!"
What they're saying is:
The kid told me all your embarrassing family secrets but I'm too classy to let on.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.