Joe Knows: Dealing with hateful teachers

Joe Pohoryles

Hey Joe,

We’re only a couple months into the school year, but one of my teachers already hates me, and I don’t know why. I’m funny (I’m always making my friends laugh during lectures), I’m charitable (I trade answers with my peers in class) and I’m health-conscious (I catch up on sleep and eat healthy snacks in her class every day). I just have a great all-around personality, but my teacher continually yells at me and punishes me with bad grades. I can’t fail this class. What should I do?

– Puzzled Perfection

Well, Puzzled Perfection, it sounds to me like your teacher is jealous. She can only dream of possessing the special qualities you have, and simply resents you for it. This has everything to do with you as a person, and nothing to do with her job of educating you. You have several options, but no matter what, don’t change a thing about who you are. Not everyone can be as great as you.

Don’t become quiet and attentive. Continue being funny. You are better than her, therefore she doesn’t deserve your respect. Never stop trading answers. Forget failing to properly practice the material, you are providing a service for your peers and should be praised for it. As countless school assemblies and videos have told us, it’s important to stay healthy, so your initiative is inspiring. You’re not the problem, your teacher is.

So what do you do? You could just cut her out of your life. Switch classes and be done with it. It’s early enough in the year, and having a toxic teacher is detrimental to your well-being. However, if the counseling office refuses to switch you, you could be left to fend for yourself.

You could report her to administration. You shouldn’t be getting bad grades just because she doesn’t like you, and because that’s the only reason you’re failing, I’m sure administration would understand entirely and have your back on this one. Things might get messy though; you don’t want her to blackball you to other teachers if you report her, so it might be best to settle this on your own.

You could confront her. Explain your side of the story. Maybe she’ll find the error in her ways and apologize. However, due to your description, this teacher seems incredibly unreasonable, so this scenario is unlikely to happen. You’ll be left to argue against changing your behavior. Stand your ground, make it clear that talking to your friends is not “distracting them,” as she may say, that instead you’re being a good friend. You’re not the one that needs to change your attitude, she does.

If all else fails, take the high road. You are the better person here, so act like it. Just grin and bear it. It’s a difficult situation, no doubt, but you can make it work. You’re that talented. Just don’t change. We need more people like you in this world.