11 Ways to Survive Teachers Who Humiliate Students
When teachers humiliate students, it can get ugly fast, causing students to shut down and fall behind their peers. While there are more protections in place at the high school level for this, college is a different story. The professor is still viewed in a godlike manner in many campus cultures, and the expectation to “be adults” can cause students to live with behaviors they shouldn’t have to deal with.
In the following article, we’ll be sharing several tips for how you can survive these types of teachers. But first, it’s important to examine the psychology that drives it. This can be beneficial if there’s a way to salvage the relationship and come out of the class with your grades and sanity intact. Let’s begin!
Why They Do It
It’s hard to understand why teachers humiliate students if you don’t have that same mechanism within you. Most of us don’t, and there’s absolutely no excuse for it. But to shed some light, here’s what’s usually behind their actions.
Most teachers are caring people who get into the profession to make a difference. This especially is true at the high school level where the burden of a child’s development is still seen as a sacred responsibility among those at the head of the class. At the collegiate level, however, there’s a greater expectation that “you’re a big person and can take it.”
Some teachers at this level get caught up in the hype of being able to boss around their students. The ones it applies to have a “my way or the highway” attitude, and they like to show you early and often how that looks inside the walls of their classrooms.
Some people on power trips can have low self-esteem, but more often than not, it’s due to an inflated ego. On the flip side, professors with really low self-esteem might resort to humiliating tactics to shield their own insecurities.
To Exercise Control
Some teachers will take a hard approach to how they deal with their students to deter any childish or unruly behaviors before they begin. While this reason is the most understandable of the three, it can still unfairly target some students who simply want to get a quality education.
Now that you know why some teachers humiliate students, it’s time to talk about how you can survive their tactics. There are 11 ways altogether that we were able to conjure up. Let’s look at each one!
1. Consider Your Role in the Issue
Before going too far down the rabbit hole, it’s always important to pause and do a little internal reflection. This will keep you from jumping to conclusions and launching an unfair witch hunt of a teacher who just wants to make you better at what they’re trying to teach you.
Put on your most analytical and self-critical hat and determine whether you’ve done or said anything that might have set the professor off. If you can get to the behavior in the early stages, you can quickly reverse the damage you might have done. If you can’t think of anything and your peers are having the same type of experience with the teacher, then it’s time to move on to No. 2.
2. Consider Your Options
Let’s say you are being targeted by a teacher. What are your options? You could hide from them, which might work but likely won’t since you’re already on their radar. You could hinder their efforts by turning other classmates against them. Or, you could harm them by complaining to their superiors.
Whatever you end up doing, don’t go to war. Use the minimum amount of force necessary to protect your interests and take your emotions out of the situation before you act.
3. Find Common Ground
By removing your emotional response to the teacher from the equation, you’ll be able to look at what exists as a problem instead of an inquisition. This will give you the mentality needed to go to the teacher with the purpose of finding common ground. Perhaps he or she shouldn’t be putting you in the situation where you have to be the bigger person, but that’s life. If it doesn’t happen in class, it’ll happen somewhere else. Being able to play the role of the reasonable compromiser is a good skill set to have.
4. List Evidence They Are Not Connecting
Before you go to the professor or teacher causing you harm, sit down and outline your thoughts onto a sheet of paper. Concretely identify how they are failing to connect with you and back it up with evidence. If you have to talk to others in your class who are having the same problem with this teacher, do so but don’t sell them out just to make a stronger case. Allies can become enemies in a hurry when you do.
5. Check Your Influence and Credibility With the Rest of the Class
It’s vital, if your claims are going to have any validity, that you speak to others in your class. Do they see the same misbehaviors in you that your teacher does, or do they feel unfairly targeted as well? If they don’t feel targeted, can they at least see how the teacher plays favorites and is unusually harsh on some people in the class. You’ll need support if you plan on a confrontation, even if that support never comes out publicly.
6. Think Through the Outcomes
Much of how you address these types of teachers depends on the planning. And an essential part of the planning is to think through all the possible outcomes of a confrontation. Do you have what it takes to keep your cool? What types of counter-attacks might you have to deal with? It never hurts to think of all the ways what you’re about to do could go wrong and how you could play certain paths to your advantage.
7. Plan and Execute a Strategy
List a series of actions that you can take to start the confrontation, respond to it, and move beyond should it not go your way. Also, consider the concessions that you may have to make to salvage a relationship between you and the teacher. Once you know the first step in your strategy, take it. And that brings us to:
8. Consult the Teacher in Private
Never go over the teacher’s head unless they’ve done something so egregious that it would warrant termination or possible criminal complaint. In other words, try to work out your differences face-to-face in the respectful setting of privacy. Make an appointment with them for office hours. Go in, be pleasant, and do it with the attitude that you’re there to listen as much as plead your case.
9. Seek to Collaborate on a Mutually Beneficial Outcome
Never go into a confrontation of this type thinking it will be a confrontation. Instead, classify it as a discussion. Tap into your inner problem solver, and show the teacher you don’t want things to go on the way they are and that you are willing to do your part, but that there are certain things about their approach that aren’t working for you. They’ll either listen or they won’t, but your attitude and approach can have an influence on the final outcome.
10. Commit to Survival
Some teachers are just too bull-headed to see your viewpoint. Or, maybe they do see it but they’re still so consumed with their position that they don’t care. Again, “my way or the highway.” If that’s what you’re dealing with, commit to simply surviving the class by doing what you need to do to get the grade and move on (within ethical expectations, of course).
11. Act Above the Teacher
If you refuse to live with what the teacher is dishing out and they refuse to change, it’s time to go over their heads. Make sure that, before your meeting with the superior, you’ve documented all the insults, infractions, and your efforts to meet the teacher halfway. Doing so will ultimately strengthen your case and move you closer to relief.
Do Not Let Teachers Who Humiliate Students Ruin Your Education
It’s never a good thing when teachers humiliate students, but it can give students great opportunities to work on their conflict resolution skills. Conflict resolution will be important in every facet of life as you move up the professional ladder once school days are behind you.
Now it’s your turn, everyone. What are some of the worst experiences that you’ve had with teachers? What are some ways they went too far and made it personal when approaching you in the context of a classroom? Share your experiences in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]