Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I know that I'm a terrible teacher and that's why I'm good

Rotten Apples in the Driveway
Rotten Apple

The past couple of days, I've had conversations with some friends about teaching. We shared our thoughts on how we feel like we are just bad teachers. We work so hard, but we feel like we are not getting through to all of the students. We think our lessons are not as good as they can be. We are constantly thinking of the "better way" that we could have handled a situation in the classroom. We question everything we do in and out of the classroom. We are as hard on ourselves as we could be. Harder than any administrator could be on any of us.

On the drive home, I was thinking about how terrible I was that day and it hit me. Maybe I'm not so bad. Every time I'm hard on myself, I'm reflecting on my teaching. I'm constantly thinking of ways to improve my lessons and my interactions in class. I connect with my peers and walk through the day to see what I missed. I collaborate in an attempt to improve my craft. I do all of this while talking about how terrible I feel.

I feel that a teacher needs to feel that they are a tad bit terrible to become better. If you think you are a perfect teacher, where do you grow? Is it possible to become a perfect teacher? I do not think so. I feel like I'm the best teacher I can be in the given circumstances. I always give everything I have into my lessons and my classes. Some days I will feel like that was not even close enough to what my kids deserve. That drive to make me better is something I can appreciate. It's ok to feel terrible if you use that as a driving force to become better. Being bad should not be a crutch, but a step stool.

For all of the terrible teachers out there, know that you are not alone. I'm terrible, but I'm good because of it.

For K and all of the other terrible teachers out there.



  1. Short but fantastic entry! I've had some not so great teaching days lately (mostly due to stress/tiredness) but you are right: we can learn and reflect from/on those and use them to our advantage! Well-said :)

  2. I have the feeling like I'm a terrible teacher all the time. At least twice a day. I even had to take some time off from reading other people's blogs because it was making me feel like an even worse teacher.
    But I think you are right though. Being critical of our practice does help us improve. The important part is to not believe that being terrible means you bad.

  3. If you are a teacher that thinks you're're probably a great teacher who is constantly trying to improve. It's the teachers that think they're great the way they are who are the terrible teachers.

  4. Depending on the age level of your students and your situation, if you can share your struggles and elicit possible solutions from your students they feel heard and invested. They have a stake. They are practicing problem solving.

  5. I am always pushing to be better. And, I always feel like I'm not as good as many of the other teachers on our campus. But then someone from outside will say how awesome a lesson was or that we are doing so many neat things and I have to pause and say, "I'm not that bad."

  6. Yes, I often wish I could be a better teacher. I have high standards for myself and that keeps me at school late at night after my colleagues have left. But I can't give up on my thorough lesson planning.

    This year I took on an extra responsibility in my department. I asked the people above me, "how do you have time to do your responsibilities and still teach good lessons?" They replied that the lesson planning has to slip! No way. I actually enjoy planning lessons. Why couldn't there be some admin that could slip?? Sigh.

  7. Yey, I'm a terrible teacher too! Ha, ha, it's never felt so good being bad.

    Thanks for this post!

  8. Bravo! I know that those that "Keep Moving Forward" (to quote the Meet the Robinson's movie) seem to be those who have the largest positive effect on students. Remember the reason you are a teacher, to help kids. I know so many who have forgotten this and who do not try to do better next time whether it is in conveying material, classroom management, time management or other issues that creep up on teachers. Keep up reflecting on how to improve! Your students will thank you for it later.

  9. Great post! I read it to my wife who is an even worse teacher than I am (at least she thinks so, if you know what I mean).

  10. Like you, I'm always reflecting on my practice, noticing areas for growth and change and developing my craft. Good teaching is always a work-in-progress. I do believe, however, that educators can work towards improved school structures with clear goals. When schools are structured for success, teachers will have the chance to hit the mark more often.


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