Teachers are great at spotting other teachers. We share certain physical and behavioral characteristics that, although imperceptible to most of the outside world, act as a sort of secret handshake when we’re out in public.

Not a teacher? With careful training, you too can spot a teacher just by observing their appearance and mannerisms. Here’s how.

1. They have a large bag. 

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In general, you won’t see them with a bag that won’t fit a laptop, lunch, and 100 three-page packets.

2. You’ll see stray pen, dry-erase, or chalk marks on their arms and clothes.

As I write this I have pink highlighter on the underside of my forearm, which I’ve mistaken for a rash 700 times today.

3. Look for the dark circles under their eyes.

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All those late nights and early mornings are not kind to the eyes. 

4. They have an alarmingly large coffee mug.  

It might be the biggest thermos you’ve ever seen. You could even mistake it for a vase. 

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5. They’re wearing flat shoes. 

They might not be the cutest shoes, but you can be sure that they’re comfy. 

6. They have a no-nonsense gait.

It’s somewhere between a military march and an Olympian’s jog. But everyone nearby takes them very seriously. 

7. They’re most likely mumbling to themselves.

These are often verbalized drafts of future emails.

8. If eyes could speak, theirs would say, “I fear nothing.”

Except maybe red exclamation point emails five minutes before the bell rings on a Friday afternoon.

9. They are most likely still wearing their ID lanyard. 

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Often you will be able to hear them before you see them, with all the keys dangling everywhere. 

10. Look for the school spirit shirt. 

Especially on jeans day, the shirts with school logos will be everywhere! 

11. You may see them randomly pull out a Smart Board pen.  

 

It looks like a weird stylus to you, but for them, it’s a way of life. They’ll likely pull it out when signing a receipt and say, “I’ve been looking for this all day!” 

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12. Listen for the phrase, “Do you offer a teacher discount?”

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If the response is affirmative, watch for fist pumping.

13. You will never hear the phrase, “Can I get that decaf?”

Perhaps in the summer. Otherwise, bring on the caffeine. 

14. If there’s a dollar section nearby, they’ll be in it. 

They know they shouldn’t spend more money on their classroom, but they can’t resist. 

15. If you see them turn around quickly, they’ve probably just spotted a student or parent. 

You might seen them widen their eyes, shrink down, and start walking backward slowly. Do not approach them at this point. They are highly vulnerable.

16. But then they’re also the first one there to help. 

Teachers are natural organizers, helpers, and just kind humans. If you see someone randomly helping out in public, then there’s a good chance that person is a teacher. 

What are other ways to spot a teacher in public? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

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Plus, check out this article on how being a teacher is like being a celebrity