What Does “Bad Teacher” Really Mean in Pedagogy?


It’s not a secret that the pendulum of pedagogy has moved from holding students accountable to holding teachers accountable. This is clear in government programs that monitor student learning as a method of determining teacher ability and, in some areas, even pay. But it’s also evident in the way “bad” teachers are accused of being the cause of poor education in elementary through higher institution levels.

The reality looks a bit different, though. The truth is that most teachers put their hearts, souls, free time, and personal finances into trying to be the best instructors possible to a diverse group of students with various needs.

What Does a “Bad Teacher” Look Like? 

As with every industry, there are a handful of “bad apples” that spoil the rest of the hard workers. Because education is evaluated on such a microscopic level, these bad apples are the ones that are spotlighted in headlines when accusations against them are leveled.

However, they fall into a category that should never be synonymous with the label of “bad teacher,” which is, instead, used to describe an instructor that isn’t doing their job to their full potential. These two classifications often have the same title but are distinctly different in behavior and intent.

Before you throw the term “bad teacher” at someone, or reverse it and apply it to yourself, let’s take a look at the characteristics of this label.

First of all, a bad teacher is someone who actively dislikes the age group of the students they teach. You may adore little ones, yet find college students rude and disrespectful. That view of them translates into your teaching, whether you realize it or not. It’s best to find a group of students you enjoy interacting with and stick to that level. If you don’t like children in general, all the way through college, you might want to consider another career for your sake and theirs.

Next, a “bad teacher” fails to get the lesson across to their students consistently. These teachers neglect the real-life application component to their subject and teach strictly what’s “on the test.” This is something every teacher does sporadically throughout the year, but if your regular agenda is supplying your students with book pages to read and worksheets to complete, and telling them to “figure it out,” your teaching style needs an upgrade.

Finally, “bad” teachers aren’t always aware that they’re not knowledgeable about their subject. If your students must point out to you that something you instructed was incorrect, and this happens frequently, you might need to look into a different grade level or subject. You can still be passionate about the students you’re teaching and do them a disservice if you don’t know what you’re imparting to them.

The problem isn’t always with the teacher. Facing the challenges of a broken education system to overcome the “bad teaching” designation is an institution-wide approach. Sometimes, teachers have simple “checked out” because the requirements of their supervisors and district make it impossible to do a good job. If you notice that you’re disengaged and your passion has disappeared, yet you still wish the best for your students, and you can’t imagine not being able to work with them, it could be the environment. Keep in mind that, while education itself is always undergoing evolution, many other institutions offer positive working conditions with a supportive administration.

You aren’t necessarily a bad teacher. You could be a byproduct of a stressful but rewarding career path that is plagued with micro-and macro-management. Instead of a career change, consider a parallel shift to another school or team.

Using Impactio to Improve Your Pedagogy

The “bad teacher” label doesn’t have to follow you or your colleagues. Instead, let Impactio help you improve your scholarly reputation with the scientific community at your disposal as a member.

Impactio’s platform connects experts in multiple fields and puts them together to complete research, access funding, and collaborate at every level of academic growth. Whether you want to find a career in research at another institution, or you’re looking for ways to improve your pedagogical skills, the connections you make on Impactio will assist you in your search.


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