People Share The Biggest Red Flags To Avoid Horrible Teachers
Anyone who has ever been a student knows a universal truth: there’s nothing worse than landing a crummy teacher. Whether they’re stupid, rageful, or just plain terrible, a bad educator can instantly ruin a class. Students who have experienced the wrath of a bad educator know exactly what to watch out for, and they’re here to help you.
Have you ever been asked to singlehandedly capture rabid animals for a wildlife class, or dealt with a tyrant boasting an 80% failure rate? Yes, these teachers sound absurd—but they’re only the tip of the iceberg. The following ticked-off students took to the internet to share their takes on terrible teacher red flags. Heed their warnings closely.
#1 Thanks For The Heads Up, You Guys
“So the math department recently met and decided that my class will no longer be considered a math class. It won’t count towards the major, nor will it count towards any distribution requirements. All it will count towards is the total number of credits you need to graduate.” Tell me how this is fair in any situation. This shouldn’t have been allowed.
#2 Well, That Was An Overreaction…
I had a lecturer kick someone out of class for repeating her answer to a question to a student who hadn’t heard the whole thing. This was in my second year of university. I’m not sure if the professor just misunderstood the situation or if she actually just had some sort of overreaction, but All know is that class would have been empty if it wasn’t a required course.
#3 There’s No Need To Ruin Kids Lives, Ma’am
I had a professor whose “A” grade started at 96. “B” started at 91. She started off the class by gloating that she took pride in lowering high GPAs. On the very first day, she gave an arrogant little speech, saying, “Most of you will fail my class.” She didn’t want students to fail, she just wanted to mess with their self-esteem. She was a psychology professor, and I don’t remember her name on purpose.
#4 Do You Have Something To Hide?
One of my professors said on the first day that he’d use all legal resources at his disposal if anyone recorded, in audio or video form, any of his classes, lectures, or meetings in his office. Anyone who’s that adamant about not being recorded sets off warning bells in my head, so I dropped the class. I’m not even sure if he had any legal basis for that… Besides we’re the ones paying for his class.
#5 That’s Kind Of Your Job, Bud
The professor doesn’t give lectures or actually teach. Classes consist of weekly presentations from students, who were assigned topics to “research.” Students also decide what goes on the exam, by picking from a list of topics the week before. These topics either weren’t discussed in class at all or came straight from another student’s bad handout. Why did I pay money for that?
#5 The Students Weren’t The Unprepared Ones
“No partial credit will be given on exams.” Making exams completely unrelated to the material and saying “the whole class did poorly on the exam because they didn’t prepare for it.” Releasing homework assignments late, then people getting zeros only because the submission website is glitchy, followed by “Oh, you should’ve submitted earlier.” Teaching incorrect things in lecture and making exams with typos that aren’t corrected.
#7 Wow, Thanks For Your Incredible Insight
I had a Java professor who said no one in her class ever gets a 100 on anything. She had three tests and a final. The second test I got a 100, but she gave me 98.5 because no one gets a 100. I will never understand professors like this. Students who work hard and manage to get a perfect score should be awarded that perfect score. It’s just not fair otherwise.
#8 Good God, This Guy Hates His Life
I had a physics lab professor who proudly touted an 80% failure rate. Labs started at 3 p.m. sharp, where he’d explain something once, and only once. Your finished lab report had to be on his desk by 5 p.m., or else he would not only kick you out of the lab room but also refuse to mark what you had completed. One time the printer in the room ran out of ink for one lab, so we had less than one hour, at the time, to find a working printer on-campus and print off the multiple charts and graphs of his lab experiment to be included for grading.
The final exam was two hours of solving all lab problems in a new context, plus one extra question. This was 60% of the final grade. So many people came out of the exam crying knowing they failed the course. I had applied for a job at the campus MRI center later on, and literally having a passing grade in that course got me a job offer. The professor was a royal jerk though.
#9 I Don’t Think They’re Coming, Guys
Being late almost every day and not having an e-mail list. Walking uphill five miles in the snow to class one day for an exam only to get there and wait 20 minutes for the professor to not show up at all. And the exam won’t be moved or anything, it just won’t exist at all anymore… after you studied for it, of course. I think the professors that do this assuming that their students won’t mind because it means they get a free hour or whatever off. No, it’s disrespectful to your students who are paying to learn something.
#10 At Least They Warned You!
First day: “If you’re taking this class for an easy A, you do not belong here.” That was my college theater appreciation class. Three-quarters of the students (including me) dropped after the first day, and of those who did not, not a single one passed. I hate professors who purposely grade lower for the sake of making their class seem harder.
#10 Too Many Words, Not Enough Energy
I signed up for a botany class in college. The first day of class the professor had filled up every board in the room. I thought, “this is stuff we’ll be covering this semester.” Nope—he covered it all in the first half-hour, erased it, then filled the boards up again. I bailed out ASAP. When you try to cram too much into your brain at once, you won’t learn anything.
#12 And Both Of Them Will Be Failing!
My favorite: “Look to your left, now look to your right. By the end of the semester, one of those people won’t be here.” He said it as if it was a badge of honor. I should have walked out at that moment before I bought the expensive book that he wrote. Threaten your students to fail and they’ll threaten the future of your course existing.
#13 Welp, That Took A Sharp Turn
I was in a class in a community college (I forget which class, but it was definitely not a religious school or a theology course) and he started the lesson with the sentence, “Everyone here has read the Bible, right?” Then, he assigned a report on passages from the Bible. I reported him to the dean and he dropped the assignment. Before dropping it, he told me that I could do the assignment on the Satanic Bible instead. He couldn’t understand the concept of being an atheist or not being Christian.
#14 Wait…You Didn’t Even Read It?
I had an economics professor that went over our first test with us. One of the questions was a paragraph answer. One student asked why they got a 12/15 on that question and what part they got wrong. The teacher replied, “Oh, I didn’t actually grade that one, I just gave it a random grade based on how long your answer was and how well you did on the other questions. And I just assumed no one answered it perfectly, so no one got 15/15 on that one.”
#15 Ma’am, Your “Golden Child” Days Are Over
On the first night of class, the instructor went on, very dramatically, for about half the class about her childhood, bragging about how much smarter she thought was. The second half of the class, she told us about how we weren’t smart enough for her class. It didn’t matter how many of us had 4.0 GPAs. She didn’t believe in giving out “A’s.” I changed my class the next morning.
#16 Hold On…You Want Us To What?
This was a wildlife management class where the professor explained in broad, explicit detail written out in the syllabus, that we will be expected to trap and handle live wild mammals during the lab. She expected a bunch of untrained college undergrads to set out traps for and pick up live wild mammals from who knows where and touch who knows what.
The syllabus also pretty much just said: Oh, by the way, live wild mammals may be carrying rabies so uh, just know what to do if you encounter rabies. They’re probably carrying loads of other fun diseases too. As someone with an INCREDIBLY JUSTIFIED phobia of rabies, I got out immediately. There were some problems with the teacher too, but that was the straw that broke the camel’s back right there.
#17 A Project Over Thanksgiving? Hard Pass
Going over the syllabus the first day, the professor explained: “This really big assignment is going to be due the last week of November, so that’ll give you all of Thanksgiving break to work on it.” I dropped right out of that one. I was not about to spend my entire Thanksgiving break, which is one of the only times I get to see my family, on a freaking assignment that could determine if I passed or failed the course.
#18 Good Job Snagging A ‘D’, Dude!
I had a lecturer for calculus visiting from Greece. He’d forget he was in the US and, when his back was to us while he wrote on the board, he’d speak in Greek. He’d turn around and realize his mistake but make no effort to go over what he described in Greek. I leaned on my TA a LOT. He spoke Mandarin and a bit of pidgin English. I thought I did well getting a D.
#19 I Don’t Need “Subjective,” I Need To Pass
I hate teachers who give a syllabus that is extremely vague about how your assignments will be graded. In my experience, these teachers are always the ones that seem to have no rhyme or reason to grading between assignments and you have nothing to argue against because you have no idea how they are coming up with the grade. This is typically only an issue in writing-intensive courses, but I’ve seen it in others that allow for a very subjective view on what work is “good.”
#20 Some People Want To Go To Grad School, Sweetie
“No one makes an A in my class.” Then you’re an evil person trying to prove something, and what that is I don’t know, nor do I care. Bye-bye. Reported to all appropriate authorities. I will not put up with a teacher on a power trip. Just because they are in charge of marking our papers, doesn’t mean they have the right to do it unfairly.
#21 If They’re A Mess On Paper…
If the syllabus is a mess. If a professor cannot articulate the expectations, learning outcomes, and class schedule in a concise and clear way, then there is a good chance the lectures will be a mess and the feedback on assignments will be limited and late. Usually, I’ll sit in the first class to gauge if the professor is like this, and if he or she is, I’ll drop the class the next day.
#22 You Realize You’re A Teacher, Right?
I had a “teacher” that did not lecture and refused to help us. This was a programming class and for most people, it’s the first one you take. Our textbook was nothing but problems and no help either. So it’s like, what am I paying for, you to grade my assignments? You are sure as heck aren’t doing your job. I knew I needed to get out of there ASAP.
#23 You’re A Self-Righteous Jerk, Man
“I don’t have time to answer all of your questions.” “Stop complaining about how hard the material is, you’re all adults and can figure it out.” “Don’t ever complain about any of your professors until you do their evaluations at the end of the semester.” What? “I did the exam I’m about to give you and it only took me 10 minutes, so it’s easy.” First of all, you’re an expert in this field and the class average was a D.
#24 No Offense, Man, But I Don’t Care About Your Life
When the instructor’s own political or philosophical beliefs are a core part of the material. My intro to philosophy class should have been a survey, but instead, we spent too much of the time on a guru that the professor was devoted to, the charlatan Carlos Castaneda. We’re here to learn, not be swayed by your own personal viewpoints.
#25 Yeah, I Would Get Out Of This
My programming professor is an extremely monotone teacher. He spent the first few classes forgetting his login credentials, forgetting the right files for the day, fighting with the projector, etc. When he would actually cover a topic, he would constantly have to refer to his book, stutter, talk slow, etc. It was hard to follow him. He’d also randomly lead into a question (while talking so monotone that you couldn’t tell it was a question) and then blurt someone’s name to get them to answer the question.
That didn’t work most of the time. Also, the first week, he realized that there was some concept that we didn’t know and he berated us for not knowing it. He also had a very “if you don’t get this, you won’t make it as a programmer” attitude. That class started with 20 people. It dropped to about 12. I paired with some people on the homework, and everyone thought that he was a terrible teacher. We finished the semester, but I don’t know who actually passed. I got a C.
#26 Wait…Is This Even Legal?
The teacher charged us money if we didn’t print our lesson every single day. This was the sixth grade.
#27 Word For Word? Oh Heck No
In Chinese class on the first day: “Okay, so we will have a quiz, next class. They are from the textbook’s first chapter so they will be very easy; you should already know it.” She made us memorize 13 pages of passages with historical and cultural knowledge last year and made us recite parts. It’s okay if we have to remember the content. It’s not okay if the test on it is to recite a few of the passages word for word.
#28 No, Man, You Can’t Teach
“Don’t bother complaining at the end of the year. I’ve had complaints that I can’t teach this class. I can teach, you guys can’t learn.” Also, just before the first midterm: “These exam questions are the ones I have found over the years that people can’t answer. So if you can answer these, I know that you know the material.” Same instructor, same class. Should have left after the first comment.
#29 Someone Needs To Learn Emotional Management
Squealing in frustration, turning red, stomping their feet, and throwing the classroom cabinet. Being incredibly condescending to all of the girls in the class. Being low-key to high-key racist. I’m describing a teacher I had for only a week. I dropped that class real quick. I was not about to sit in a class where I’d be stressed all the time and where there was zero learning done.
#30 He’s Doing You Guys A Solid…Now, Run
I decided to take a three-credit course in Game Theory because I thought It would be less work than any other offered math course. I also only needed three credits. Within the first five minutes of the first class, the professor comes in, eyeballs the size of the class and goes, “I’m not sure why there are so many students in this class, but this is the second in a series.”
“If you have not taken the first section or are unfamiliar with how I teach these types of courses, I recommend you think about whether this course is right for you. We will be moving very fast, and I expect a lot from my students in terms of quality, this is not a course that will be easy or light on workload. Just think about that.”
Apparently, the school did not put a requisite for the course in the registration portal. Ten students, including myself, immediately got up and left after this announcement. I ran to the registration office to get an add slip and was able to get into a Statistics class 30 minutes after the class started. That was a close one for sure.
#31 Oh God, It’s You Again…
I hate when they welcome people who are repeating the class or even praise the guys and girls taking the class for the third time. Like it’s an accomplishment to repeatedly fail his class. And it wasn’t even a challenging subject. It was a 200 level math class. The guy was a jerk. He lost one of my tests and then tried to give me a zero. Then, after I complained multiple times, he finally found it. It was the only class I got a C in.
#32 We All Make Mistakes, Darling
Aeroelasticity. My professor was going through a rather difficult proof. Someone pointed out that she wrote a step wrong. She turned to look at him nastily, then said in a rude tone, “I know how to take a derivative.” I dropped the class, took it the following semester with a rather chill approachable professor and had a great time.
#33 Ah, We Love A Biased Jerk
I failed an assignment in “PHI2301: Introduction to Philosophy” because my three-page paper on “What is the Meaning of Life” clashed with my professors take on the meaning of life. Worst. Class. Ever.
#34 Well, This Just Gets Better And Better
There were so many red flags from my Ancient Greek professor: 1) “Ah, you’ve survived the mass exodus (meaning people dropping the class). Let’s see how many of you survive the class. 2) “If I were in charge of this college, I would root out the unworthy.” 3) He hurled on the floor in front of all of us and then proceeded to refer to himself as the “Fallen Idol” for the rest of the semester.
#35 Listen, I’m Just Trying To Pass
My writing professor would dock excellent presentations and papers because they talked about feminism, universal health care, or gun control. This isn’t a politics class, it’s a writing class.
#36 No Need To Bully Your Students
I had a professor make a girl cry because she insisted that the student lacked confidence. We were reading out of a textbook and she didn’t speak loud enough for her liking. The same professor told me on the first day of class that I would never amount to anything if I thought I could just get through life with a pretty face and a good smile. All I did was introduce myself with my name and major. She doesn’t teach anymore.
#37 Thank You For Your Take On The Patriarchy, Bud
I was taking a women’s and gender studies course and our first subject were eating disorders. The professor started with: “Men cannot get or have eating disorders! It only affects women!” I wasn’t the only one in the class that expressed outrage and objection to that statement. Saying men can absolutely suffer from eating disorders. The professor disagreed with us and said we were still thinking in the “male-dominated patriarchy that cripples women into oblivion.” Almost everyone dropped that class.
#38 Maybe You Could, I Don’t Know…Prepare Us?
When a professor says, “All students always do terribly on the first exam of this class, so just expect to get a poor grade on the first exam.” I couldn’t drop the class, as I was in school for nursing and the professors are the same year after year for individual classes. And also, they have a set schedule for what classes you take and when. However, if I had the option, I would’ve dropped that class so fast. If all your students are failing a test, you need to consider teaching differently or creating a new test. It’s not normal for a group of highly motivated undergrads. I can attest to the fact that she was not teaching the content covered on that test, which makes it even worse.
#39 It’s Not The Deep, Sir
My sophomore year, I was placed into this government class. The teacher was a jerk. Three major red flags I remember about him are 1). Saying, “This class has a very heavy workload, and it may make you suicidal.” 2) He’d make passive-aggressive comments whenever I was late, which was by no more than two minutes. It only happened twice before I switched to a better government class. His classroom was in one of those dumb portables and I was getting lost easily in my first week. He continued to act surprised every when I was on time. 3) A large part of our grade depended on how we did against his other classes in his modded version of civilization. The way it worked was we were all assigned a different faction. The class would collectively make a decision on how to interact with the other factions and attempt to be the best. It was a cool concept, but grading the entire class on it was stupid. No one liked him.
#40 We’re Not Children, Lady
My professor wouldn’t allow people to step out of class to use the bathroom. She’d say, “You’re all adults, not children, you can hold it.” Exactly lady. We’re adults, we paid to be here, and adults have to use the bathroom. A couple of students filed a complaint against her for taking away their basic right. The disciplinary board called her in and they gave her a warning, but she still kept up her tyrannic ways. Eventually, they fired her.
#41 So, If They’re An Angry Vegetable, Drop The Course
On the first day of class, the professor was late, unprepared, didn’t have a syllabus, hadn’t decided on the required reading, and was basically half asleep. He also had a big list of rules about things that will not help you learn.
#42 No Thanks, I’ll Take My Degree And Go
In my second semester of senior year in high school, I was assigned to a trigonometry class. It was a requirement to get the advanced diploma my high school offered. The previous semester I took a physics class that was also required, which I had failed. I figured I’d take the trig class anyway. I went on the first day of the class and at the end of the period, the teacher assigned 40 problems for homework that night. On the first day. As soon as the bell rang and the period ended I went straight to my guidance counselor and dropped the class. Forty math problems for homework on the first day, for a class. Did I even need to graduate? Nah, I’m good.
#43 Yikes, Karma Is Incredible
One time in middle school, some jerk teacher made us do physical workouts as punishments since we were so “energetic.” She then demanded we all stand for her entire class and if we sat down, she’d take away all of our points for the day. Some kids were in casts and we all had leg cramps, but she didn’t budge. I went home and ratted her out to my mom, who then called the principal. The principal chewed the teacher’s butt out. I failed her class because I was a “problematic brat who would never accomplish anything in my life.” I aced all my classes next year and my mom mailed that witch my report card. She got demoted to kindergarten classes. Yikes.
#44 Welp, I’m Completely Lost
I know this is a little bad of me, but when the teacher has such a thick accent or speaks English poorly that you can’t understand them, it’s really hard to learn. They sometimes also don’t know how to properly use the university’s grading system, which makes it all the more frustrating. Sometimes, I will switch classes just to land a different professor.
#45 Hey, At Least There Was A Happy Ending
“You WILL do work in this class. If you don’t like it, leave now!” Several students got up, walked out and withdrew immediately. She then announced, “I hate this darn university and I’ll be darned if I let them take your money for nothing!” She turned out to be the best professor I’ve ever had. Sometimes it pays to listen longer than one sentence.