With over ten years of experience in public education, I’ve had my fair share of awful moments and I’ve learned that teachers have the capacity to not only ruin a subject for you, but potentially ruin your entire education experience. I'm called to share my truth in an attempt to help my fellow millennials survive school.
Below I will share my personal experiences with awful teachers followed by a diagnosis, symptoms and coping mechanisms.
1. My chemistry teacher had a talent for making you feel unintelligent with every question you asked her, which hindered me from reaching out for help when I was struggling in the subject. I was often late to my next period Spanish class because it took me long to finish my chemistry exams. When I got to Spanish, my teacher asked me about my chemistry teacher, and since I was conditioned to be honest with authority figures, I blasted my chemistry teacher, discussing every reason she was an awful teacher. A couple weeks in, I discovered that my Spanish teacher and my chemistry teacher did yoga together and everything I’d been telling my Spanish teacher, she was relaying to my chemistry teacher.
Diagnosis: The teachers who never left high school.
Often allow students to call them by their last name without a title
Will flirt with students of the opposite sex (possibly the same sex)
Gossip about students and teachers to students.
How to Cope: School is filled with immaturity and gossiping that is sometimes most brutal among the teachers. The easiest way to deal with the teachers who never left high school is to befriend them, and give in to their adolescent fantasy because if you make them feel your age, they're usually more inclined to help you academically.
My dad didn’t raise an ass kisser, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll need the alternative medicine which entails overcompensating intellectually. If you’re not their friend, be their best pupil, which leaves them no reason to mistreat you or turn your education experience into the film Mean Girls.
2. Senior year, we became fond of skipping mandatory events. Class remained a priority, but bullshit assemblies about scheduling no longer seemed relevant to us soon to be graduates. My friend and I told our teacher we weren’t going to an assembly and our teacher didn’t care. It wasn’t long before a different teacher, came in and bullied me into attending, asking, “What makes you think you’re so much better than everyone else that you don’t have to attend mandatory events?”
Diagnosis: The teachers with an inferiority complex.
Overly discipline for misdemeanor offences
May scream at students for chewing gum
How to Cope: With teachers in America being among the most underpaid and underappreciated in the world, it’s likely you’ll come across several with an inferiority complex. The best way to deal with them is to stick up for your self-worth, in the politest way possible. Yelling back only fuels teachers with an inferiority complex, but if you contrast your kind assertiveness to their blatant aggression, they’ll have no reason to carry on. Eventually they'll give up on screaming at you once they realize you aren't responding with what they want, fear or anger.
3. One of my favorite classes in college was a sociology class that taught me about culture, societal norms and debating them. We got on the topic of religion and my teacher began laughing at the thought of people worshiping God saying, “I don’t go to church to worship an imaginary god.” I wasn’t angry because he didn’t believe, but rather because he disrespectfully laughed at the believers. But hell, I’m used to millennial Christians getting the short end of the stick in political correctness.
Diagnosis: The teachers with no filter.
Say whatever comes to mind
Curse in class
Talk politics & religion
How to Cope: I wanted to report him but then I learned that unlike high school teachers, college professors can virtually say whatever they want and push their opinions of politics and religion on students, without repercussions. When I began rooming with a sociology major, I discovered that teachers with no filter often purposefully provoke students with comments about sensitive topics to arouse debate.
Therefore, my medicine for stopping outspoken teachers, is to become an outspoken student. Even if no one agrees with your opinion, you’ll still get brownie points, a.k.a. a better participation grade, for being brave enough to speak up, so long as you can back up what you say.
4. In middle school, I came across my music teacher’s diary. He left it out on a student’s desk, and within thirty seconds I learned why his marriage was failing. With the placement of the diary out in the open, it’s difficult for me to label this teacher as anything less than a teacher who shares too much.
Diagnosis: The teachers who share too much.
Makes personal information accessible to students
Vents to students
How to Cope: I don't consider the teachers who share too much to be awful, but definitely inappropriate. You can have a friendly relationship with a teacher that can be healing if the venting is appropriate, and not one sided.
Your teacher’s problems are not your problems and in order to make this clear, my prescription is to ignore and evade. Don’t put yourself in situations such as hanging with your teacher at lunch or after school, where you're potentially setting yourself up to be their therapist. That day, I acted like I'd only found the book and not read it and we never discussed that incident or his personal life again.