Hannah-LYZE This: Moments I’ve Been Made to Feel Unteachable

I really do believe educators have one of the most important roles in shaping our world—usually for the better. I have had many teachers who have passed on valuable lessons to me, which is why last year during this time, I chose to profess my gratitude to some of them in an article. All of them have impacted me and put me on a path I continue to walk down while knowing their guidance is behind me.


However, there have been times in my college career thus far when I have been made to feel inferior, insignificant, and like someone who lacks the ability to have wisdom imparted upon them. But you know what? I am NONE of those things, despite how I have been perceived by one of my professors in particular. I am going to share just a few of the ways this person has taught me what NOT to look for in an educator, as well as how I have grown from it.


  • Extreme hypocritical tendencies: Now with this one, I am not referring to a slip-of-the-tongue; that happens to the best of us. When I speak of these hypocritical tendencies, I am mentioning that lectures vary day-to-day on what you deem to be the most pertinent information—and then when a student (like myself) reminds you of a previous assertion, you patronizingly negate your earlier remarks and insinuate rash listening and brazen objections took place. With this lesson, you have shown me to be diligent in completing my work so I can combat your incessant contradictions and prove to be one step ahead when you insist on stepping all over me.


  • Lack of organization: This harkens back to the first statement. You preach to us about the importance of being on top of our game but cannot return the favor. As our “tuition at work,” I implore you to take your own advice and find a method to the madness. When you cannot find my work and suggest maybe I did not complete it simply because you misplaced it, you insult the very work ethic that you claim to want to instill in me. From you, I have learned to stay steadfast in how I organize myself and respect others’ personal organizational processes.


  • Commenting on my outward appearance: This has not and will not ever be appropriate or relevant in what you teach me. Even if I asked for your fashion advice (which will occur on the same day pigs take flight), it would diverge from the class content you haphazardly teach us. Taking away from our time as students to make a comment about my blouse not only targets me for something other than my academic intellect and wits, but it is just plain unsolicited. From your unprovoked fashion advice comes a reminder that I need to grind enough for my accomplishments and work to stand on their own, regardless of what personal reflection is shown in the mirror.


  • Public lashing with a personal apology: As with most of these other examples, your love of isolating individuals in class for “less than ideal” work examples or straight-up verbal mockery and condescending comments in public is accompanied with half-assed apologies in private. If I am lucky, it is in an in-person apology delivered with a hushed tone so other students cannot hear you admit that *gasp* you are not flawless… but more often, it is delivered like a dog with a tail between its legs in a lackluster attempt to save face. Feeling and exerting an extreme superiority complex over the students you are supposed to be encouraging does nothing but create frustration and resentment. I have learned that instead of verbal sparring, it is best to surrender with the knowledge I am right to avoid waging a war.


  • Creating doubt: I know that having thick skin will serve me well in life, but there are some things that just do not gain any traction when I try to have them roll off my back. I know I am competent, capable, and content with the work I am doing. In fact, despite your general demeanor, I am excited to continue my path. Having someone like you in my life gives me someone to prove wrong in all the ways you have made me feel inadequate and motivates me to do more and to do it better.


However I may feel about this professor, I cannot argue the fact that I have also done a fair amount of learning in their classroom. They carry wisdom and tips I cannot yet gain until I am out in the field as well, and that is valuable to attain. But the way this person imparts it amidst all the criticism, complaints, and general negativity makes it hard to sift through for the light at the end of the education tunnel.


After reading this, I hope you take a look at all the teachers in your life. They have a supreme responsibility to mold our minds and set us up for success. So if there is someone like this in your own life, take a cue from me and look for the lessons that don’t expressly come from the classroom and apply them as positively as you can.