Teaching & Learning

You Might Be A Bad Teacher…


Yesterday was Academic Excellence Day at Saint Leo.  This was my first exposure to student presentations highlighting the best of the best from various programs.  Presentations about everything from drones use and abuse to establishing a brand through blogging to the Salem witch trials dotted the program.

I have to say, these fresh, often young, new points of view are enticing.  You can almost watch the students forming their world-views and these sessions are a clever barometer of growth and learning.  They are also inspiring.

One of the young presenters made an off-handed comment about bad professors.  “You know it’s going to be a long semester when your instructor starts by telling you that half the class will get a C, before the first role call!”  It got me to thinking about Jeff Foxworthy’s great routine about knowing if you’re a redneck.  So I took a stab at, “You might be a bad teacher if”….see what you think.

  1. If you got into teaching primarily for June and July…you might be a bad teacher.
  2. If you wanted a career that lets you wear patches on your sleeves and smoke a pipe…you might be a bad professor.
  3. If your goal is to get enough research or grant dollars to be released from teaching…you might be a bad instructor.
  4. If being a professor means “professing” most of the time…you might be a bad educator.
  5. If you believe all your students need is one thing (like love or care or logic or modeling, etc)…you might be a bad instructor.
  6. If you feel that students are inherently stupid or lazy…you might be a bad teacher.
  7. If you love having a captive audience to practice stand up for, to impart oracle-like wisdom to, or simply because peers won’t spend time listening to you ramble…you might be a bad professor.
  8. If you got into teaching to open up your dating pool…you are likely not only a bad teacher but also may show up on NBC Dateline at some point!
  9. If you enjoy the look of red ink marking up typed papers…you might be a bad professor.
  10. If you read notes, slides, or other materials to your students on a regular basis…you might be a bad instructor.
  11. If you’ve ever said, “Turn to your left and right. Someone you just looked at won’t be here by semester’s end…” you might be a bad teacher.
  12. If your go-to aid is the worksheet…you might be a bad instructor.
  13. If you ban all devices from the classroom because you (correctly) know that students would prefer any stimulus other than you…you might be a bad professor.
  14. If your favorite classroom game involves using big words that you are confident students won’t know….you might be a bad educator.
  15. If you don’t spend as much time honing the craft of teaching as you spend on discipline-centric research…you might be a bad instructor.
  16. If you took a job as an educator because nobody in the private sector would ever hire you…you might be a bad professor.
  17. If you believe that a student’s job is to unlock your vault of knowledge so as to learn…you might be a bad teacher.
  18. If your most common response to questions is, “It’s in the syllabus”…you might be a bad instructor.
  19. If you cancel more classes than you hold….you might be a bad teacher.
  20. If you gave out 22 A’s (and you only have 21 students)….you might be a bad instructor.

And finally….

  1. If you refuse to give one more ‘A’ because it doesn’t fit into your bell curve….you might be a bad professor.

Unfortunately I don’t find it quite as funny as Foxworthy’s stuff.  A few I guess…but some are sad, no?  What do you think?  What did I miss?

Good luck and good learning.

Dr. Jeff D Borden
Chief Innovation Officer


About Jeff Borden

My title at work is ‘Chief Innovation Officer.’ So I'm trying to transform teaching and learning at scale. How do I do that? Through my "life" jobs. Primarily, I'm a dad and husband. But I'm also a professor, writer, professional speaker, comedian, researcher, lifelong learner, musician, dog-owner, and even a ranked disc golfer... I've spoken to, trained, or consulted with hundreds of thousands of educators at all levels, in numerous countries, K-20, about how to teach and learn effectively in the 21st Century.

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