Characteristics of Bad Teachers

by Derrick Meador, Teaching expert.
Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images News/Getty Images

One would hope that all teachers would strive to be excellent, effective teachers. However, education is just like any other profession. There are those who work extremely hard at their craft getting better on a daily basis and there are those that are just simply there never striving to improve. Even though this type of teacher is in the minority, these bad teachers contribute significantly to making all teachers look ineffective. It is a frustrating reality in education, but there are bad teachers.

There are bad teachers that honestly believe they are good teachers. These teachers either lack a significant skill to become effective or simply do not have a grasp on what being an effective teacher requires. There are other bad teachers that know exactly what they are and what they are doing. These teachers can typically be grouped into two categories. They are the veteran teachers that are burned out or the newbie that realized they did not want to be a teacher until it was too late.

In any case, these teachers are not doing themselves, their students, or the profession any favors by hanging on just to draw a pay check.

There are many different ways a teacher can be bad. Even an overall effective teacher may be ineffective in certain areas. A major part of a principal’s job is to identify which teachers are effective, which teachers need to improve, and which ones are ineffective and need to be dismissed. This process begins with an accurate teacher evaluation.

What qualities can deem a teacher ineffective or bad? There are many different things that can derail a teacher’s career. Here we discuss some of the most important and prevalent qualities that a bad teacher may possess.

Lack of Classroom Management

A lack of classroom management is probably the single biggest downfall of a bad teacher. This issue can be the demise of any teacher no matter what their intentions are. If a teacher cannot control the students in their classroom they will not be able to teach them effectively. Being a good classroom manager starts on day one by incorporating simple procedures and expectations and then following through on predetermined consequences when those procedures and expectations are compromised. Any teacher trying to befriend students will be ineffective in the area of classroom management. Students will test teachers quickly, recognize a weakness, and take over a class before a teacher knows what happens.

Lack of Content Knowledge

Most states require teachers to pass a comprehensive series of assessments to obtain certification within a specific subject area. With this requirement, you would think that all teachers would be proficient enough to teach the subject area(s) they were hired to teach. Unfortunately there are some teachers that do not know the content knowledge well enough to teach it. This is an area that could be overcome through preparation. All teachers should thoroughly go through any lesson before they teach it to make sure they understand what they are going to be teaching. Teachers will lose credibility with their students extremely fast if they do not know what they are teaching, thus making them ineffective.

Lack of Motivation

There are some teachers that are not motivated to be effective teachers. They spend the minimum amount of time necessary to do their job never arriving early or staying late. These teachers are just there. They do not challenge their students, rarely give homework, are often behind on grading, show videos often, and give “free” days on a regular basis. There is no creativity in their teaching, they rarely smile or seem excited to be there, and they typically make no connections with other faculty or staff members.

Lack of Organizational Skills

Effective teachers must be organized. A teacher has to keep up with so many things on a daily basis that they must be organized to do their jobs effectively. There is not a cookie cutter approach to being organized. A system that works for one teacher may not necessarily work for another. A teacher needs to develop some sort of organizational system that works for them. Teachers who lack organizational skills will be ineffective and overwhelmed. It will lead to unnecessary frustration and can take away from the good things that the teacher is trying to do. Teachers who recognize a weakness in organization should seek help in improving in that area. It is an area that can be improved very quickly with some good direction and advice.

Lack of Professionalism

Professionalism encompasses many different areas of teaching. A lack of professionalism can quickly result in a teacher’s dismissal. Teachers who are routinely absent or tardy are ineffective. They cannot do their job if they are not there to do it. Failing to follow the district dress code on a regular basis can also land a teacher in hot water. This is especially true for young female teachers who dress provocatively. Teachers who use inappropriate language in their classroom on a regular basis undermine the moral responsibility they have as an authority figure. Each of these situations involves a serious lack of professionalism which will undermine a teacher’s overall effectiveness.

Poor Judgment

Teachers like any other human being make decisions on a daily basis. However, many of the decisions that a teacher makes affects their students which they are charged with leading, educating, and protecting. Opportunities can present themselves at various times. Teachers have to keep their wits and make good smart decisions in every situation they encounter. Too many good teachers have lost their careers because they had a moment of poor judgment instead of thinking things all the way through. Common sense goes a long ways in protecting yourself. If there is a chance that it will harm someone, then you probably should lean the other way.

Poor People Skills

Having excellent people skills can mask a lot of inefficiencies. On the flip side, having poor people skills can undermine your effectiveness in other areas. A teacher has to be effective at dealing with people including their students, parents, other teachers, staff members, and administrators. Good communication is essential. Parents especially want to know what is going on in their child’s classroom. Having good people skills is essential and the lack of such skills could destroy and at the very least limit a teacher’s overall effectiveness.



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