You Should Know That Already

I was probably told it a hundred times on my teacher training course. I would have thought that my mentors on my teaching practices would have mentioned it, but something has recently become abundantly clear to me, that the worst thing you can ever say to a student is: you should know that already.

As a teacher though, it so easily slips out. Too easily. You would never open your mouth and say: you’re shit! Yet the words: you should know that already, amount to the same thing. As we say them, they sound innocent enough. Perhaps a student has been working on a particular thing for many, many months. You have gone through it and over it and explained it hundreds of times. You have seen in the past, perhaps, that they have been able to do it. Then you allow your patience to wear thin.

Image result for quote about patience

Patience and teaching of course go hand in hand. Parents frequently say to me: I don’t know how you are so patient. I always reply that it doesn’t reflect how I am as a parent! It is quite easy to have patience with the youngest students. Your expectations of what they can achieve are obviously different to the older students. However, actually the student’s age should bear no relation to your ability to show patience.

Patience must surpass driving a student forward and wanting them to excel. Drive is important, but ultimately in order for this to happen, patience is always required. We don’t necessarily know what is going on in a student’s life. We don’t know their insecurities and fears, nor why they may have them.

I was reminded of how demoralising and demotivating it is to be told that you should know something already, when a Taekwon-do Master made that comment to me a little while ago. It immediately made me feel completely shit. The thought behind the words is so final. You want to look the person in the eye and scream at them: well, I don’t and you know what, you know nothing about me and my life so fuck off! But instead, you just look them in the eye with a forlorn look. You feel that in that split second you have let that person down, despite the fact that it is your personal journey, not theirs. Regardless of the fact that actually, it is their job to teach you again and again, until you understand what they are saying and can get it absolutely right. They are the teacher.

So if your child ever comes home from school or from a club with their head down, quietly dejected and forlorn, there is every possibility that someone has said to them, without realising the extreme impact it can have: you should know that already. Unfortunately, the damage can have a lasting effect. As teachers, we must constantly be aware of this, so as not to undermine a student’s confidence. Patience has a lasting effect too.

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18 thoughts on “You Should Know That Already”

  1. A very profound reminder to take a breath and be patient. When my son is having a tantrum it is all too easy to snap, but what is that teaching him? On the rare occasion I can laugh it out and wait for him to come round, the overwhelming sense of achievement I get is priceless. More often than not we come away from those instances laughing, however, the times I do snap usually ends in more tears!
    #mudpiefridays #bloggerclubuk

    1. Yes, because I guess that a toddler, like a student can’t necessarily explain why they are or aren’t doing what we want them to – they are just frustrated. Thank you for your comments.

  2. It’s no wonder we are told over and over growing up that patience is a virtue. If only we could continue to remind ourselves of this throughout adulthood. Some people need to think a little more before they speak, especially in a teacher/mentor role. Thank your for writing, this was a great post 🙂 #brillblogposts

    1. Yes! My mum used to say the rhyme all the time: patience is a virtue, catch it if you can. Seldom to a woman, never to a man! Thank you for your comments.

  3. Really interesting point, I’ve never thought of it that way and I know I an guilty of this with my ‘left brained’ one Thanks for pointing this out I won’t be uttering these words again! Unless maybe it’s my husband- can’t make any promises there. #Brillblogposts

    1. Someone commented that they say it to their husbands a lot and I hadn’t thought about that! I know that I am guilty of saying it to my partner – normally about things in the diary!

      1. Hee hee…I hear ya! Popping in from #ablogginggood time just to let you know I ‘rephrased’ it while we were counting up in 3s this morning so it didn’t come across as ‘you should know that already’. Thanks, it actually made a difference to her response too – less defensive and much more positive 🙂

        1. Ooh you are good and that is brilliant that she responded so positively. Note to self: practice what I preach! Thanks for popping back 🙂

  4. You make such a good point and it’s something that I’m grateful to be reminded of as my daughter is now getting well in to toddler hood and it can be easy to forget that whilst she exhibits some ‘grown up’ behaviour she’s still in fact got a lot to learn. I’ll make a concerted effort to not do this with her. But it also has some weight even in the work place where there is so much going on that people sometimes just miss things and shouldn’t be made to feel behind or bad at their job if they forget or don’t know. #BloggerClubUK

    1. It’s definitely something that we all have to keep reminding ourselves of. Thank you for all your comments.

  5. Just reading through previous comments and it struck that actually I say this to my husband too, a lot. I’m going to make a conscious effort to rid those words from conversation!


  6. Same! The funny thing is, it didn’t cross my mind once when I wrote this post. It’s so patronising too! Sorry partner 🙁

  7. I’ve not had anyone say this to me for ages but totally agree its de-moralising! Definately worth remembering not to use it now I am a parent though. Everyone learns at different rates, I know this too well with my now 1 year old and all his mini me peers. #ablogginggoodtime

    1. Yes of course! I didn’t think about that comparing thing with little ones. I remember when my friend’s boy turned one and she said he could say certain words and I looked at my little girl and thought: you should know that already! Thank you for your comments.

  8. You know, I’ve never thought of that! This is something that I have been told in the past and, thinking back on it, I just took it as I wasn’t working hard enough to remember or work out what I already knew. It did leave me feeling like rubbish and it’s only now you’ve pointed that out that I realise why! Will definitely bare this is in mind for the future! #BrilliantBlogPosts

    1. I’ve only realised, through people’s comments, just how many perspectives there are on this! Thank you for your comments.

  9. As a teacher and as a student having heard and been on the receiving end of those words I completely agree that they can utterly crush you. Great post and a good thing to be highlighting and making people aware of. Its the same as disappointment rather than anger.

    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime

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