How to deal with bad teachers
There are a few different types of teachers: those that are nasty, those that are boring and those that are just bad. The rules are not so different except that nasty teachers can cross a boundary where the situation becomes harmful.
Here is a 6 step plan how to deal with bad teachers
- Avoid – Either the teachers or the class
- Keep well below the radar – Don’t become a target!
- Use class for something useful – Sit in back, do homework or anything else….
- Take a different view – Consider they are human, can you actually help?
- Talk to someone – Talk to another teacher, talk to a parent, or other adult
- Escalate – If you are in a harmful situation, it is time to act
Step 1: Avoid
Well, I guess it is already too late to avoid the class this year. But what about next year??
Is there anything you can do to influence the future to avoid the really bad teachers? Could you indicate a preference, can you choose a different course, etc. Think about it… time flies!
And are there any opportunities to miss the class for legitimate reasons, like an early morning doctor appointment, or just the occasional missed bus? If you need time off school, plan that time wisely…
But, in most cases these options are not available. So we need to exercise a little damage control.
Step 2: Keep your head below the radar
This goes to the principle of avoiding trouble where you can. Don’t let a shitty teacher trick you into goofing around too much. You will attract too much unwanted attention from the teacher. Just get in, get done and get out.
Same goes for homework. Don’t single out yourself for attention. Do the homework on time and at a minimally acceptable quality level. The basic principle is not to make yourself a target.
Step 3: Make your time valuable in class
Can you use the time in class better? Could you sit in the back and actively use it to do some homework? Could you do some research? Prepare something? Anything?
Step 4: Take a different view
OK this one is a little radical. But ask yourself if there is another view to be taken? If you thought of the teacher as human, and cut them some slack, would it give you a different perspective.
Is the teacher trying hard but failing? If so, can you help them? Sorry, if I sound a little crazy here, but sometimes it helps to remember that teachers are human too…
Step 5: Talk to someone
Well, here it gets harder. But sometimes avoiding is not the way to go. Avoiding a difficult situation does not teach us anything. Sometimes, escalation is the way to go.
Consider to talking to an adult like a parent or another teacher
You could also informally ask a teacher, who you do connect with, for advice.
Consider talking to the teacher directly. Sometimes the teacher may not be conscious that they are being hard to handle…. Especially if no one has told them. Although it may be uncomfortable, you would be surprised how effective this can be… A golden rule here is also to stay positive and prepare what you will say at the beginning….
Step 6: If the teacher crosses the line between bad and harmful…
Sometimes, and it’s not very often, a teacher can cross the line from being harsh to being harmful – In that case, don’t try to deal with it by yourself. Speak to a teacher you do like, or your parents.
And ideally bring a wingman – if you really can’t face speaking about it yourself have them do it. A third party with no axe to grind can be an invaluable ally, and it also stops it becoming a ‘your word against the teacher’s’ situation.
Honestly, I have only had a handful of really bad teachers and only 1 who I consider to have been harmful but I was too young to act on it. Looking back, I should have been faster to speak to my parents.
But looking back, even the difficult teachers taught me a very valuable lesson – how to deal with difficult people. I suspect it will prove a useful lesson…
I would love to have your thoughts on how you deal with a difficult teacher?