9 Things High School Students Do That Drive Teachers Insane

Over the summer most teachers spend time in professional development, attending workshops and seminars covering the latest educational research and data. Teachers love that kind of stuff.
When the new school year begins we can finally start to put all the information we acquired on our time off to good use. For example, some studies (okay, informal polls) show that students can actually start becoming annoying as early as twenty minutes into the first day of school. Yikes! 
How not to annoy your high school teachers
Here are some tips on how NOT to annoy your teachers. (Photo credit: Enokson)
So in the spirit of data-driven instruction and inspired by this helpful list of things that drive college professors nuts, I have conferred with my colleagues (or in teacher-speak, professional learning community) and come up with a list of things that drive high school teachers crazy. Below is a handy guide for parents to share with their kids as they prepare for a new (and hopefully pleasant) school year.

This is how students annoy their teachers


1. Don’t ask your teacher for things that you can find out yourself.

Teachers are happy to answer their students’ questions about concepts they are covering in class, current issues, or nearly anything else that sparks discussion or satisfies intellectual curiosity. But we are less thrilled about answering questions that our students are too lazy to find the answer to themselves. Does your school have a system for checking your grades online? Then use it. You aren’t sure when your paper is due? Check the syllabus. If you do need to ask a teacher a question, think first…

2. Look for the right time to ask questions.

Don’t walk up to your teacher in the hall and ask her your grade. Believe it or not, she does not have the grades of all 150 of her students memorized. The same goes for your score on the last test or whether or not you turned in a homework assignment from three days ago. Instead ask her when would be a good time to talk to her about your grade or missing assignments.

3. Assume she has a plan.

Because she does. Don’t ask your teacher, “Are we doing anything in class today?” The answer is emphatically ”Yes!” It’s always yes.

4. Remember school goes on without you.

Similarly, if you’ve been absent, don’t ask, “Did we do anything in here yesterday?”

5. Don’t demand or tell your teachers what they should do.

“I need my makeup work.” “I need you to sign my admit slip.” “You should let us have an extra day to study for the test.” Instead, ask. Please and thank you are always a nice touch too.

6. Don’t act like you are in charge.

Never adjust the thermostat, turn fans on or off, or open the windows without your teacher’s permission. It’s her room not yours.

7. Get off your phone.

We know why you have your backpack on top or your desk. We know why you are staring into your own lap. We know why you’ve stood your binder upright like a partition. We don’t always interrupt class to call you on it, but we know. And we remember.

8. Look like you are paying attention.

Okay. Now that you’re off your phone, look interested in what’s going on in class. Turn your chair or desk to face the teacher. If she is a walking lecturer, turn your head or your body to keep your eyes on her. Nod. Smile. Lean forward. Look engaged, amused, perplexed, or fascinated. But do not just stare blankly into space.

And for the love of William Shakespeare, do not lay your head on your desk. It’s not enough to listen. You have to show that you are listening.

9. Be pleasant.

Smile. Say hello. Speak when spoken too. These are common courtesies that your parents probably taught you. But in the busyness and stress of school, some students forget to extend these courtesies to their teachers.

The thing about kids is that even the best of them forget their manners. They get tired and frustrated. The school day is long and exhausting. It’s easy to fall into some less-than-pleasant habits.

Teachers understand this. We still love our students and our jobs, and we try to be patient – even in May. Still, a little sensitivity could go a long way toward making the school day better – for everyone. That’s why I’m going to show this list to my own kids and talk to them about shaping up a bit – even if I have to use my teacher voice.


This teacher shows us how we can help our high schoolers succeed. How to Help Your Kid in High School

Teacher Offers Best Advice for High School Freshmen





About Laura Hanby Hudgens

Laura Hanby Hudgens is a part-time high school teacher and a freelance writer living with her husband and children in the Arkansas Ozarks. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Grown and Flown, Parent.co and elsewhere. You can learn more about her at Charming Farming, where she occasionally blogs about faith, food, education, and family life.

Read more posts by Laura

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