The Worst Teacher

As a teacher, I’ve taught under some pretty difficult conditions. The worst scenario was my first year teaching. I drove between three buildings. At each school, I taught mixed-level classes — Latin 1, 2, and 3 in one room, one 42-minute period. Sort like asking a math teacher to teach algebra, geometry and calculus all in one period.

I ran into one of my students at the grocery store months later, and he said, “That was the worst class ever.” I felt like the worst teacher ever.

I love teaching, but it’s a tough job. I don’t know many people who would change jobs with me. Of course there are bad teachers, but most teachers don’t have control over every aspect of their job.

When students complain to me about other teachers, I press them for specifics. Usually they begin by saying, “He just hates me!” But eventually they admit that their own behavior is not great and that they go out of their way to annoy the teacher. They make it hard for him to do his job, and then blame him for not doing it well.

Given ideal students, supportive parents, unlimited technology, and reasonable working conditions, we would all do a better job. Teachers who have to deal with behavioral problems, attendance problems, parents who don’t care, old buildings and outdated technology may be very good teachers, but they also catch the blame for a lot of things that aren’t their fault.

The worst teacher is the one who gives up.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Everett
    Jul 22, 2010 @ 20:55:05

    I agree. Teachers need to be persistent. I teach engineering physics to college freshmen. Most of them are being pushed in to an engineering career by their parents and therefore lack the ambition to think in the proper reference frame. The best thing I can do is to continue asking them questions that will either direct them in to changing their major or convert their minds to think like an engineer. Teachers receive a bad rap when the students themselves are just not ready to make their own decisions. Keep up your spirits as I think teaching will only get worse until children find their motivation again.


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