Every student has had their run-in with a bad teacher. Overly strict teachers, teachers who grade you unfairly, dim teachers, mean ones or the worst kind—abusive teachers. One thing they have in common is that most of their students walk out of classrooms disliking authority figures and learning close to nothing in their classes. Here are some ways to deal with bad teachers and get the most out of your education.
First, Some Considerations
Sometimes, it happens that your teacher just does not jive well with your class or his/her teaching method does not go well with the way you learn. Before taking steps in getting rid of your supposedly bad teacher, it’s best that you and your classmates find out that your teacher is a consistently bad one. Ask around: people from your class, older students, former students, fellow teachers. Chances are, if your teacher is a truly bad and ineffective one, it will be a shared experience by not just one but by all.
Many teachers say that teaching is a vocation and a calling, and they say this for a reason. Teaching requires a lot of patience, a willingness to perform in front of many students on a daily basis and a genuine enthusiasm for educating and teaching.
Remember that teachers are also human beings and that teaching is their livelihood. Proposing to remove teachers is a serious matter and should not be taken lightly. Try to see other course of actions open to you; consider the gravity of the teacher’s shortcomings before taking a step towards that direction.
Some bad teachers are bad teachers simply because they are ineffective educators. You don’t learn anything from them. Either they are not thorough when they teach or they are simply ineffective communicators.
The best way to deal with ineffective communication in the classroom? Raise your hand. Ask a lot of questions during class, especially on points that you feel were not discussed well. You may even connive with your fellow classmates to fire as many questions as you can (sensible ones, of course). Getting a lot of questions one classroom session after another will clue your teacher in that something is off with his/her teaching method and he/she may shift these methods accordingly. Or he/she may even ask the class in turn on points how to make his/her teaching method more effective.
Approach your Teacher
Any good teacher’s goal is to make sure that their students learn their subject matter properly. Approach your teacher by yourself or with your classmates, and directly tell them that you and the rest of the class are having trouble understanding your lessons. Tell your teacher that you would like to have a discussion on the best way for both parties to have a more productive classroom session.
This can also be applied to teachers who are overly strict or teachers who you feel have graded you unfairly. You can approach them and tell them that you would like to discuss their policies and grading methods. Some things to keep in mind in cases like these:
- Be objective and stick to the facts. “You didn’t give us enough time to review,” may not be accepted by your teacher as a reason to put your exam grades up, as you had all those classes as opportunities to learn. However, “You did not discuss these items during the course,” backed up by notes and testimonials from classmates is. Explaining your answers may also help, as sometimes wrong answers come up from different interpretations of the exam questions.
- Don’t make excuses, but point out unfair policies. For example, your teacher may be too strict on punctuality for an early morning class. “But the class is too early!” may not be taken as a legitimate complaint. You can instead point out to your teacher that factors like distance, traffic and modes of transportation can make it very difficult to make it exactly on time or earlier. You can then propose a compromise, such as a grace period, and meet halfway.
Most schools have parent-teacher associations that act as platform for concerned parents and teachers to discuss school-related issues. Request that your parents bring up the subject of your bad teacher in the next PTA meeting. Make sure that your parents know all your complaints against the said teacher so that all points will be taken up in the meeting.
Bringing up your complaints against bad teachers in PTAs is a way to resolve the issue without the students directly confronting teachers. It’s also a way for parents to be actively involved and informed of the current issues within their children’s schools.
The more evidence you have against bad teachers, the better. For example, you can discreetly make recordings of your verbally abusive teacher, or keep past exam papers and quizzes to show against the teacher who suddenly failed you when you were doing so well. Hard evidence is your best argument in convincing your school to get rid of a bad teacher.
File a Complaint
Unfortunately, some teachers are inflexible and even take a certain pride in making sure that students fail in their classes. You can take an active stance against this by filing a complaint against the teacher. Make sure you carefully and objectively list your grievances against your teacher. Ask for help from your parents or your fellow classmates.
It’s also better to check your school’s rules and regulations on filing a complaint. You can also find out how you can forward this complaint to the teacher’s union, as any action against the teacher has to pass through the union as well.
Filing a complaint is usually the best way to make a grievance known to your school authorities. Putting your complaints in black in white ensures that it is recorded and filed under your teacher’s name, which may be referenced to later, just in case this initial complaint does not bear any results.
In the event of more serious grievances and abuse, it’s also recommended to seek legal advice to find further recourse in the courts of law.
Make a Petition
When it comes to bad teachers, you’re not alone. It’s more likely that your classmates also dislike wasting their time in classes where they learn nothing. List all your grievances against your teacher (ask help from your classmates) and have your fellow students sign it, anonymously, if they don’t want their name attached. You can attach this position to get rid of your bad teacher with your formal complaint, or even post it on message boards throughout the school. You’re not alone, so make it known!
Boycotting classes is a strong expression and a unified stance of students against issues they feel strongly about. Activism can take place in classrooms too, and refusing to take classes against widely-known bad and ineffective teachers will send a strong message to your school administrators and your teacher, too. However, be warned: Boycotting classes may seriously affect your grades and your class standing.
Write letters about your grievances about the said bad teacher: to the school paper, to the student council, to your principal, to the school’s board of directors and even the superintendent. The more you get the word out there, the better.
Suggest System Change
Bad teachers always seem to stick in schools because there aren’t any safeguards in the school system ensuring quality teaching (some unions forbid peer review). You can suggest student appraisal after 1-5 years of teaching to your student council, PTAs, principal, board of directors, and so on, so that students have an active hand in which teachers have been the best for them. Students are, after all, the ones who have to deal with teachers on a daily basis.
As students, we’re trained to look up to our teachers as authority figures and bastions of knowledge. However, this does not mean that we should be afraid of them and shy away from taking a stand against them, especially when we see them doing something wrong. It may be a long fight ahead, and it will almost always require a group effort, but it’s always worth to stand up for what you think is right and what you think you deserve—quality education from quality educators.
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