Teacher Talk: The Indecipherable (Non-)Romance Language

A dictionary for the most frequent teacher sayings, and what they really mean!

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Everyone knows that teachers are a different breed. Literally. Ancient studies have shown that, unlike students, the genetic makeup of teachers is 30 percent sarcasm, 20 percent ridiculously obscure vocabulary, and 50 percent LIES. However, recent advancements in science have proven that teachers aren’t that different from us students; instead, they simply speak a different language, one with the same English words that have entirely different meanings.

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“All right class, I’ve decided to change things up a bit. We’re going to do a fun project!” 

The following two weeks of your life will be filled to the brim with pain, suffering, 3:00 a.m. calls with random people to finish a first draft that’s graded on accuracy for some strange reason, and at least $400 worth of coffee. Tears of anguish will be shed as you log onto the shared slideshow to find that nobody has done any work, and even more will be shed when you approach your teacher, just to realize that she doesn’t care about fair work distribution. Oh, and did I mention that your teacher also happens to be one of the teachers who uses a random number generator to grade projects? Good luck!

“I’ll let you guys choose your own groups, but each group should only have two members, or three if you’re into that.”

This sentence is very complex and deserves proper literary analysis. The first part implies laziness, a desire to obtain intel on student relationships, or possibly a combination of both. However, the sentence takes a dark turn near the second part, uncovering the teacher’s true intentions by limiting the group size to two members—perfect for some one-on-one time! The final part of the sentence is exciting and may or may not show up in your daily Stuyvesant adventures, depending on how spicy your teachers are, but it means [unspeakable thing]—either that, or they just really like love triangles.

“It’s time for new seats!”  

Despite being just five words, this sentence is packed with undercurrents of resentment and bitterness: it symbolizes the teacher’s desire to separate the very obvious couples in the class. Ahem, the ones in the back who are always committing PDA. Cut the teacher some slack; it’s not her fault she’s still single and lonely at age 48!

“This upcoming test will be easy; it took me only nine minutes to complete!”

Run. Leave. Evacuate. It may have been easy for them to complete, but that’s because they’ve already devoted eight lifetimes and their pet dog to studying that one particular subject. ALSO, THEY CREATED THE TEST. To you, though, it will seem like you’re suffering in the ninth circle of hell. To prove our point, here’s an example taken from a Calc BC test: Use the ASS triangle congruence theorem to find the limit of dx/d with respect to y as 2 approaches 3 from the positive direction. Then, evaluate the cofactor expansion of abcdefghijk=12, and use both results to determine the date that you’ll finally get a date. If you want to try solving this problem, don’t. Even ChatGPT could not solve it, returning an answer of “Wat da hail is this?? You using calculator to solve problem?! When I was nine, I walked 10 mile uphill to school, both ways, carrying pile of rocks, all on one foot! Other foot was starting a business! Failure!”

“Sorry y’all, I was absent yesterday because my son had the stomach virus.”

This is almost always a cry for help from the teacher. She is most likely drowning in exams that she procrastinated on grading (teachers procrastinate too, you know—it’s not just you with your YouTube spirals and salt-infused Valorant sessions!). When you hear this, immediately go up to the teacher and ask her if she needs any help grading papers. You’ll earn favor with the teacher and, as a bonus, get to see all the failing grades that your classmates got on the latest CS test! Or better yet, you can read their highly personal essays and laugh at how stupid they are, then give them zeros on the assignment with the comment “missing three punctuation marks.”

“Let’s have a work period!” 

One of the few things that means exactly (not) what it sounds like—a free period! Talk to your friends, play some Bloons Tower Defense 5, or even practice your choreography for the Stuyvesant Outlet Showcase (SOS)! They will not care!

But be careful. If you wake your teacher up from her slumber, you are doomed.

[while standing over a student during a test] “Please remember to check your answers thoroughly!”

Uh oh. If you’re unfortunate enough to have this happen to you, you’ll have to dig through your entire test to find the error(s). Maybe take a closer look at that problem you thought you got right, and ask yourself, does one minus negative one really equal zero? Or maybe you bubbled all your answers on the wrong side of the scantron? Oh, and lucky for you, the warning bell just rang. Looks like you have five minutes to find the mistake in the garbage heap that is your work!

“No eating in class!”

The teacher is jealous that she can’t eat in class and is simply taking out her anger on the class! She probably forgot to eat breakfast and lunch (as well as dinner the previous night) and is on the verge of either collapsing on the floor or going mad. Oh, and don’t even try sneaking your Bacon Avocado Chipotle on a Roll from under your desk. Teachers have been trained to sniff out food and confiscate it for themselves, and hunger only buffs their sense of smell! (Specific buffs induced by hunger: Range: 20ft→40ft, Strength: 6→8.)


This may seem like a fairly innocent quote, given that it’s not even a sentence. However, with a simple sneeze, a teacher can express various feelings depending on the setting. If the teacher sneezes when a student explains how to solve a problem, it means, “Sorry, I’m allergic to bad math/chemistry/whatever subject it is.” A sneeze when teaching means, “This presentation is the best I’ve made, so you guys better give this the most attention you’ve ever given anything!” But if a sneeze occurs during a student presentation, the meaning flips to, “Oh gosh, they’re awful! I think I’d rather die from whatever caused the sneeze than finish listening to the presentation.” But worst of all is the mid-test sneeze. We would tell you what it means, but it would deal enough emotional damage to destroy your over-inflated ego five times over.

“Is there a reason why you guys are all laughing? Would you care to share?” 

The teacher smells tea. We’ve recently discovered that many of our teachers have very sad social lives, and they are simply trying to enrich their teaching experiences by creating some small talk with their lovely students. The easiest way to become the teacher’s pet is to simply share your entire sob story with them! Going through a midlife crisis? Just suffered a rejection? Recently overheard that there was a whole cheating scandal between a couple of seniors? Tell your teachers all about it! They’re sure to love it *wink*.

Now for some bonus quotes! You won’t stumble upon these in your classroom adventures quite as often, but they make for some good entertainment!

“We’re going to play Kahoot/Quizlet Live/Quizizz today to review for the test! Whoever wins gets extra credit!”

Now is the time to unleash your pent-up anger from the nights crying over Algebra II homework! Do whatever it takes to disable, mutilate, kill, or otherwise prevent your foes (classmates) from winning! Various tactics include shouting “It’s diamond/square/circle/triangle!” to throw other people off, stealing the first place player’s device and yeeting it out the 10th floor window, bringing a pile of rocks to school to throw at other players, or buying a Chopped Cheese sandwich from Ferry’s with which to bribe the other players to let you win. Some of these strategies may seem a bit extreme, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and you need that extra credit to hide the 85 test grade that your parents will murder you for if they ever find out about it!

“Do you want to teach the class?”

Beware! This means the teacher is on her last straw and is dangerously close to going haywire. She’s fed up with their students and their little “dumb” shenanigans. This line is dripping with sarcasm, making it all the more enticing for students to talk back. Ah, but the teacher can’t do anything if the student talks back because the Teachers’ Code of Conduct, page 74, section 7, article 3, rule 13, states, “Do not fight with students over petty things.” This is why whenever a student says “Sure” in response, the teacher brushes it off because they think it’s a waste of time.

Armed with your newfound knowledge of the mysterious teacher language, you stride confidently into your precalculus class. Gone are the days of your teacher concocting needlessly complicated riddles to confuse your small brain! Or so you think. Unfortunately, just as you sit down for class, your teacher begins speaking in Old Old Old Old English (no dictionaries exist for such an old and forgotten language). It looks like you’re on your own now!