Photo courtesy of Elizabeth's father.

Four Ways to Get Over a ‘Bad Teacher’

by | Dec 13, 2014 | Schools & Education

A bi-weekly column on Fredericksburg.Today by Elizabeth Colon Christa Huntley, Above Grade Level Fredericksburg and Northern Virginia

“You’ll never amount to anything,” my high school science teacher told me.  You see, I challenged him.  He was a first year teacher coming from a professional chemistry career, no teaching license and not a clue how to relay his knowledge to high school students.  He felt asserting his dominance over the class was a better strategy than teaching (he read straight from the book).

I have a student who had a first year English teacher.  She recycled curriculum from her college courses and implemented it in her classroom.  With very little explanation, she expected these kids to “get it.”  She annihilated most of the English class with her alpha attitude and now these kids, who once loved English, hate it.

Mom, Dad, please go get your high school student. This blog post is intended for him/her.

Here are four ways you can overcome your “Bad Teacher.”

1 – Forgive.

I know it is hard to do, but FORGIVE him/her.  Understand that it is human nature to stand and fight when you feel threatened.  I don’t know if you’ve walked into a room full of kids your age with intentions to instruct the class, but it is a tough place to be especially if you are already feeling insecure.

2 – Remember intention vs. action.

“People judge others by their actions but themselves on their intentions.”  Your teacher may have had good intentions, to challenge you beyond what you thought you were capable of, but his/her actions did not reflect this.  Think about the offense, was it really meant to hurt or was it tough love intended to challenge? If you can find no silver lining, perhaps it was intended to hurt – there is no excuse for this and you need to move on to #3 if you haven’t done so already.

3 – Tell someone.

Tell your teacher or, if you don’t feel comfortable, talk to your parents or the principal. It is important to give and receive feedback.  Everyone can learn from their mistakes.  DO NOT hold something in if it is going to continue to hurt you.  If you feel comfortable enough to talk to your teacher, frame it like this:

“I feel overwhelmed by this assignment, can you help me break it down?”
“It embarrassed me when you called me out in front of the classroom.  I felt it was intended to hurt my confidence. Can you help me understand why you said that?”

Before approaching anyone, think about ways you would have preferred the information to come out.  Be solution driven.

“Next time, can we handle it this way?”
“Next time can you ask to meet me before or after class so we can discuss grades like this privately?  I’d prefer not to share my performance with my classmates?”

Read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie to learn how to modify your approach (you won’t regret it).

4 – Learn from it.

I know you’ve been told time and time again every experience prepares you for the next.  As you get older your high school bad teacher will become your bad professor who will become your terrible boss.  The way you manage these situations will help you develop strength and wisdom.

P.S. I am serious about #3.  Please tell someone.  Don’t carry around the hurt.
Read Elizabeth’s other Fredericksburg.Today columns.
Columns on Fredericksburg.Today are recurrent features on specific topics or by regular contributors.  Guest writers present their own point-of-view and may not necessarily represent the viewpoint of Fredericksburg.Today.

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