- People in higher education gatekeeping by deciding that certain groups aren’t “really” under-represented and/or under-privileged and then needing people to show their suffering before wanting to help them.
- Colleagues failing to properly support and mentor junior faculty of color. Did you think that hiring a non-white person into your department was going to mean that they were going to teach just like you but with browner skin and more ‘authenticity’?
- People thinking that sexism must be over because there’s X% of women in our field now. THIS ONE IS SO FUNNY.
- Tenured, tenure-track, or long-term-contract academics relentlessly complaining about their jobs*
- The fact that there are 5 projects listen up on my office white board with little check boxes next to them to keep track of their progress towards publication and I’ve added (checks board)…one check this semester. LOLSOB.*
- Academics complaining that it isn’t their job to go our of their way to teach ‘bad’ students, and that they will only work closely with ‘good’ students. 🤯
- Institutions doing nothing to properly support minoritized faculty who do the bulk of student mentoring and often end up sacrificing their own mental health in the process.
- The fact that NO MATTER how clearly I think I write my assignments, students always seem to find a way to mis-interpret them**
- The fact that #MeTooSTEM is a thing. I wish we lived in a world where it wasn’t a thing. It’s a thing. It *should* be a thing. I’m *glad* it’s a thing. I just wish…you know.
- My college’s faculty locker-room. Look, I know #4 but seriously y’all, it’s GROSS.
*Everyone has a right to complain. I do it (I’m doing it rn people). What kills me are people with REALLY CUSHY jobs winging about crap all day and night. Get over it. You NEVER have to worry about where your health insurance comes from, or for that matter, your printer paper, your free coffee, your ‘book award’. So just stop, it’s embarrassing.
** I want to make clear I am not (I hope) ‘punching down’ here re: my students but complaining about the difficulty of clearly communicating to 50 people with different brains than mine.
It’s back to school time y’all and Dr. Raptor is here to tell you why you’re bad at teaching (and what you can do about it).
OK so maybe you aren’t a bad teacher, but I’m sure you know some folks in academia who are. Even if you’ve got some great teaching chops, I’m here to talk about why most of us could still be doing better. And don’t lie, my click-bait title reeled you in, right?! Right?! (call me, Buzzfeed)
Top 4 Reasons You’re Bad at Teaching
- Your education did not involve any training or coursework in teaching, you TA’d a few classes in grad school but other than that you’re just winging it.
- Your tenure/promotion/next job depends on student reviews of your teaching, so you teach in a way that makes students feel good about themselves, instead of in a way that best enables their learning
- You ignore research on education and learning in your discipline or don’t even know it exists; or you do know it exists and don’t use it because it takes too much time and effort to change your classes.
- You don’t really care or don’t have the energy/time to care because your institution doesn’t care or actively dissuades you from caring.
OK so now that we’ve got the main reasons you suck at teaching, let’s unpack them! Weeee!!!
I was a pretty serious tomboy as a kid. I mostly wore oversized t-shirts, jeans from the boy’s section, converse high tops, and most of my friends were boys. I was also a good student, and a well-behaved kid. Unlike many of the boys I considered my closest friends, I never had to sit on the hard polished wooden bench outside of the Principal’s office.
This dynamic apparently did not go unnoticed by my elementary school. In the 4th grade, my teacher paired me in a classroom with a number of these “troubled” boys. When my mother asked about this, she was told by the (female) teacher that it was because I ‘calmed them down’. My mother was furious. Why was it my job to make these boys behave? Why should my educational needs be potentially compromised or not taken into consideration because these boys needed help that the teacher and the school wasn’t prepared to provide? While she was enraged, I felt a different feeling – a strange sensation of pleasure at being “the one” who could solve all of these boys’ problems just by my mere presence.