Former teacher reveals the ‘secret code’ educators use when talking to parents about their kids

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A former elementary school teacher gave a lesson on how to interpret comments about a student's behavior.

“We have a code when we email parents,” Jess Smith, 33, said in a video that was shared on Instagram and TikTok.

“When we use phrases like, ‘Your child is very social,’ that means they won’t stop talking,” she explained.

“Their excitement in the classroom is contagious,” translates to “they will not calm down,” according to Smith, while a “natural born leader” is just a gentle way of saying “super bossy.”

In the comments, teachers sounded off with phrases they’ve used when discussing a student’s behavior in the classroom. Examples included: “Storyteller = LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE,” “unbridled enthusiasm = your kid has untreated ADHD,” and “He’ll make a great lawyer! = He argues against every decision I make.”

“I’ve said 'your child advocates for herself and her needs as soon as they arise' which meant, she tattles constantly and needs help,” wrote one person.

Added another, “When a teacher says Susie is lovely and she’s doing great — no concerns. Code for, 'I ignore her every day because she behaves and does her work.'"

But several followers criticized Smith for not being more direct with parents.

One person wrote, “I just tell them like it is! I don’t need a ‘Well thank you!’ I need a ‘I’ll take care of the situation or issue!’”

Smith, who taught in New Hampshire for nine years, now works as a social media strategist at Bored Teachers, an entertainment platform for educators.

“If a serious conversation needed to happen, I didn’t sugarcoat it,” Smith tells, noting that behaviors such as hitting or bullying were never addressed in code.

“Connecting with the parents was always important to me, and I never wanted them to feel like, ’This is your problem to take care of.’ No, this is something we can work on together. I’m here to help your kid,’” Smith says. “I found that parents just responded better to the code.”

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