I'd like to preface by saying that we say these things very honestly and authentically at times. And we say them through gritted teeth at times.
#1 I love my job.
OK, it is true that you will see happy chipper teachers with a perma-smiles on their faces. Those people, generally under 25 years old, are possibly the exception (or they are just better at hiding it than the rest of us). But teachers are human. And nobody has a good day everyday. SO while I may love my job sometimes, there are days I want to quit, drink a bottle of wine, cry on the phone to my mom, or go to bed at 5:30 PM. Those are the days when I still grit my teeth at the coffee shop drive thru and smile and nod when the barista says, "Ooh you're a teacher? Do you just LOVE it?" And of course there are days filled with art projects and cupcakes and hugs and fun assemblies that make me remember the joy that kids bring me, and on those days I bounce around the grocery store saying hello to all the families from school instead of hiding in the health food section until my hardest student from three years ago quits screaming at his mom about Pop Tarts and puts the Mountain Dew back in the cart and they move along towards the frozen pizzas. True story.
#2 Your kid is so smart.
Generally when I hear/say this one it's more of an agreement with a parent than a boldface lie. Mom says, "Ooh, isn't little Johnny just so smart? He really is ahead of where his sister was at this age!" (I hope you read that in the squeaky, pretentious voice I wrote it in—if not, go back and read it again melodrama style.) And I look down at his test results ad his latest classwork and I think to myself, "Well, I didn't have his sister but I bet she wasn't picking her nose and flicking it across the room during reading groups." But instead I smile sweetly and say to little Johnny's mom that he has a lot of potential to grow into and remind her that all kids progress differently, and that students who are quiet and well behaved often show the most growth over time. And of course it goes right over her head that I am gently telling her that her kid is a nightmare, and parents like her are the main reason I drink, but we both walk away with smiles on our faces.
#3 Your kid had a great day today.
This is a lie that is almost exclusively said to parents of kids who struggle in school. These are the kids that are a constant behavior issue and the main reason for the gray that appeared in the hair of the teacher in November. Their parents pick them up at school everyday and ask for a report on their behavior from the teacher everyday at pick up. So despite the fact that teachers have 23 other kids they need to get onto the bus or into the correct carpool, teachers stop to talk to the parent. And the parent is doing their best to follow through with consequences at home, and control the baby and toddler while they talk to the teacher and they are both so tired of having this conversation and nothing ever changing. So sometimes, just to change it up, teacher says, "She had a great day today!" Which really just means that instead of interrupting EVERY time she spoke, it was only every other time. Or instead of screaming the "F" word, he just screamed "butt" over and over again. Great is relative. Your kid did not magically become a model student over night. More likely, his saint of a teacher actually got enough sleep last night and was more well equipped for the shenanigans today. So take your kid out for ice cream, or buy the new Lego set! Because its important to follow through with promises, but please don't be surprised tomorrow when the teacher just can't quite muster the energy to smile as she explains how your kid called her a butt-munching-ass-face in the middle of the math lesson she worked so hard on.
#4 I don't have a favorite student.
Obviously, I would never tell a student or a parent that I have favorites. But, let's be honest, we all do. Sometimes that favorite student changes day to day or week to week. But teachers are human, remember? We covered that earlier. And humans are drawn or repelled from each other depending on personalities. Teachers have to like a classroom full of students with all different personalities. And just like you don't like every single person you work with, it is impossible for every single teacher to like every single student. That said, a good teacher does a damn good job pretending. It is usually the students who get under my skin the most who end up liking me the most. I go out of my way to be extra specially kind and considerate of those students because I know that if I don't that we will end up butting heads and nobody wants that. And while I truly love all of my students, I have a special place in my heart for those select few who are really wonderful people, not just students. And yes, those kids are my favorites every year.
#5 Standardized testing works.
There are so many iterations on this lie. Basically what it comes down to is this: In most cases teachers do not get to choose what to teach. It is chosen by their building or district administration. We are told that we must teach the curriculum, or to the standards, or to the test, etc. And while this gives teachers a guide and a way to create equity from class to class it can also be very limiting. And while I would love to big projects, art activities and science experiments, my curriculum says that I need to spend yet another week on "Make Way for Ducklings" even though I have the text memorized and my students are bored to death with it. And, in part because we have to teach to majority of students rather than the outliers there are always going to be students who are bored, and students who are confused. Great teachers mitigate this the best they can. But nobody loves standardized testing. Did you know that you can opt your kid out? Yeah. They don't tell you that.
Teachers are charged with the education of small humans, but we often end up teaching them a lot more than academics. The kids in our classes become our children and we are fiercely protective of them. The lies we tell are not to hurt or harm, but rather serve and protect.
What other lies have you told your students or their parents?