give it to me straight

A Teacher Reveals The “Secret Code” Educators Use To Talk To The Parents Of Difficult Kids

A TikToker reveals some educators sugarcoat how your kid actually behaves in class.

A former teacher revealed "secret code" teachers use to describe difficult student behaviors to pare...
TikTok / @bored_teachers

Have you ever gone to your kid’s parent-teacher conference and left patting yourself on the back after they told you that your little one is a “strong leader” or “very social”? That might not be the compliment you think it is, according to a teacher’s video going viral on TikTok.

Jess Smith — a former 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade teacher — revealed how teachers use a “secret code” when talking to parents about disruptive children.

Chatting on the popular TikTok account, @bored_teachers, Smith detailed some of the coded language she has previously used when trying to talk to her student’s parents about difficult kids.

“When we use phrases like, ‘Your child is very social,’ that means they won't stop talking,' the TikToker says in the now-viral clip that has accumulated almost 70k views.

She says that if a teacher says a child's “excitement in the classroom is contagious,” that means they have a hard time calming down.

The creator concluded the post by telling parents that when teachers say your kid is a “natural born leader,” they actually think your kid is “super bossy.”

In response to the post, fellow teachers commented on Smith’s video, agreeing with her assessment and even adding jargon they use.

“‘Your son is going to make a great lawyer’ which is code for: your kid won’t stop arguing with me,” one user wrote.

“‘Dances to the beat of their own drum.’ Doesn’t listen to anything they are told,” another added.

One teacher added, “When I first started teaching I was told to tell parents their child is ‘spirited’ if they never stop talking and can’t sit still.”

And while several users found the humor in Smith’s codes, others felt that these “secret” messages were more harmful than helpful, begging teachers to be direct with parents.

One teacher chimed in, “I'm a teacher and do not use these ‘codes.’ It's not helpful to anyone to sugar coat an issue. I stick with facts and observations.”

Other parents echoed this sentiment, wishing that teachers would just be direct with issues happening in the classroom involving their child.

“I don’t understand what’s so hard about giving constructive feedback in a positive and direct way that doesn’t confuse parents, that won’t get flagged,” one parent wrote.

Another parent wrote that if teachers were more direct, she could have gotten help for herself and her child sooner. “If I had known this years ago, I could have helped myself and my child develop better socially DECADES earlier, i know it's hard, but SAY IT DIRECTLY,” they wrote.

While asking teachers to be direct and to the point is a fair ask, other TikTok users pointed out that sometimes that tactic can blow up in a teacher’s face. “Most parents don’t know how to handle direct constructive criticism. Children are typically [t]he same way at home and in school etc. 😳,” one TikToker commented.

Another restated, “I’m glad so many commenters appreciate direct communication but I’ve seen extreme negative responses from parents at a HINT of constructive criticism.”

While taking the direct approach with parents definitely seems like the “right” way when it comes to talking to parents about their child’s behavior, there is always risk involved. Parents may not be so receptive to the news that their child can be difficult in class, creating more stress and tension for parents, teachers, and kids alike. Of course, sugarcoating and essentially skimming over the truth of the matter could lead to even bigger, unresolved problems down the line for students who could have gotten help sooner. What say you?