40 Reasons Why I Will Never Be a Good Teacher

Here’s why, however hard I try, I will never be the great teacher I want to be…


  1. Time. There never seems enough of it.
  2. The syllabus. Apparently I have to stick to it.
  3. Grades. People tell me they’re important.
  4. Money. I’d like to fully ‘Googleplex’ my classroom and my school. But where to get the money?
  5. Up, off and away (timetables). Just when we get get going, the bell stops us. Students pack up, switch off and head away to the next subject.
  6. The truth. I always prefer the truth over mumbo-jumbo and spin. Many students and parents seem to prefer dull platitudes over honesty. Maybe I should learn to disguise the latter inside the former.
  7. Authority. I don’t take direction well. Especially if the rules handed down to me are I’ll-conceived, small-minded or educationally unsound.
  8. Ingrained, systemic content-mongering. Most of what I do during my lessons to tighten up independent thinking is unravelled an hour or two after they leave my class. And very often they arrive asking me why I can’t just give them the content. Sometimes I give in to their requests.
  9. Stupidity. I don’t suffer fools gladly. Kids who bring me their pre-packaged, I’ll-conceived ideas (like ‘people living in poverty should do something about it’ or ‘we should bring back the death penalty’) have to face my merciless picking apart of their little opinions.
  10. Over-enthusiasm. I jump in with both feet where others are a little more circumspect. I should learn to lean back a bit and to stick a toe in the water before I Geronimo.
  11. Life-long learning. I assume it is my job to get students to love learning new things as much as I do. Apparently getting students to do well in their exams is really what it’s about.
  12. Bullies. I despise bullies in any form. This includes teachers and parents.
  13. Outsiders. I’m always on their side. Apparently this is unfair.
  14. Failure. I believe that failing is sometimes necessary, and should not be directly correlated to a student’s ability or to their sense of self worth.
  15. Discovery. I believe I should be doing less and less teaching, and that my students should do more and more tinkering, debating and independent, serendipitous discovery. According to those in the know, this is tantamount to lazy teaching on my part.
  16. Awards. I am underwhelmed when students earn ‘academic awards’. I am told that they are a prestigious recognition of ‘academic excellence’. Meh.
  17. Plagiarism. I penalize plagiarism heavily and go out of my way to set plagiarism-proof assignments. Apparently a poster or a one word research topic is still perfectly acceptable.
  18. Bureaucracy. Politics. I hate having to play the game.
  19. Negativity. I often let the negative attitudes and mindsets of the small minority of my students dictate how I teach. I exert too much energy towards trying to get the eye-rollers on my side, where I should be focussing on those who are already enjoying what I do.
  20. The mirror effect. When I am tired and overwrought, I let my students’ response to me determine how I respond to them. Especially if they’re aggressive or whiney. Sometimes its difficult to remember that they’re kids and to step back a little.
  21. Stuff. Other responsibilities often interfere with my teaching. I know I shouldn’t let them, but I do.
  22. Opinions. Without even thinking about it, I let perceived opinions of me influence what I do. I love noise and energy, but I have to be careful of what passersby and neighbours might think. I love creative assessments, but I worry what the _________ Department will make of them.
  23. Little boxes. Too often, I let a class average determine how I teach a class and what I think they’re capable of learning collectively. Some classes I can do more with, others need simpler tuition. This is wrong.
  24. Forgiveness. I forgive them too easily. They tell me I should make a note of transgressions and use it to inform future decisions. They talk about punishments and permanent records. I forgive and forget.
  25. Thinking. I always try to teach my students how to think, not what to think. Apparently this is overstepping.
  26. Taking it personally. I take my job way too personally. It broke my heart when one of my students confided in me recently that his dog died earlier in the year and that he still misses his old friend. And it gets much, much worse than this. I should suck it up and be professional.
  27. Drama. I don’t enjoy teenage manipulation, histrionics and theatrics. Save the drama for your mama. (But they tell me I should be a little more ‘sensitive’ and ‘approachable’.)
  28. Boredom. Some bits of the syllabus really, really bore me and I resort to chalk and talk to get through these as quickly as possible. This is one of the biggest reasons I’ll never be a great teacher.
  29. Teaching to the test. I still do it sometimes. And I hate myself for doing it.
  30. Idealism. I’m a dreamer and an idealist in a world of realists and pragmatists.
  31. Perfectionism. I never can get it perfectly right. And I am not happy with less.
  32. Dumbing down. I teach at too low a level. Because that’s what the syllabus and the ‘experts’ tell me they’re capable of. I should challenge my kids to grapple with the stuff even I think is too complex for them.
  33. Control. I am happy to relinquish control and let them determine the course of the lesson and I love following tangents. This smacks of a lack of planning and poor classroom management, apparently.
  34. Coffee breaks. My own needs get in the way. I need coffee. Honestly, sometimes I also need a cigarette. I have to switch off and take a break.
  35. Reflection. I often neglect to allow time for digestion and reflection.
  36. Kryptonite. There are some kids I just cannot teach. Ever. And I give up.
  37. Over and under. Sometimes I over-prepare for lessons, and they end up feeling stale. Other times, I think a section is easy and when the learning begins, I realise I am horribly underprepared.
  38. I like round numbers.
  39. The uninvolved. I allow myself to feel despondant when I compare myself with the uninvolved. Why don’t I also just get in my car and go home at the end of every day?
  40. Fighting. I get tired of fighting the good fight.




Share your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s