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When the Teacher is a Jerk

by Ron Kurtus (updated 28 February 2022)

Sometimes you can get a teacher who is unpleasant, real mean, or just a complete jerk. It makes you wonder why some teachers act that way.

Ideally, you would like to avoid having such a teacher, but often you don't have a choice. It may be too late to change, and you are stuck with the person for the rest of the semester.

In such a situation, you have a choice of either giving the teacher a rough time or trying to cope with the situation. Since the teacher has power over your grades and whether you pass or fail, it is in your interest to try a positive strategy.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Why they act that way

You might wonder why your teacher acts so mean or unpleasant.

There may be numerous reasons for this behavior. The teacher may hate his or her job and thus takes it out on the students. The teacher may have an unpleasant way of trying to motivate the students. There may be a personality conflict between you and the teacher. Or perhaps the teacher is just plain mean.

Hates job

Some teachers love children and love what they do. But there are a few teachers—for one reason or another—who simply hate what they are doing. They act grumpy in class and can be unpleasant. Some may even take it out their anger on students.

May have wrong way of motivating

The correct way to motivate someone is by giving encouragement and praise.

Unfortunately, some teachers think they can motivate their students by yelling at them, by acting tough, or by making sarcastic remarks.

Having a teacher that acts that way is unpleasant. However, realize that most teachers want their students to do well, but some just express themselves in a negative manner that can turn students off to them.

May be a personality conflict

Some people just don't get along. Their personalities are completely opposite, such that they grate on each other.

You may look at your teacher as a complete jerk because of the way he or she acts or appears. There may be something about the person that you just don't like, and it is reflected in the way you act toward the person. The teacher can sense your attitude and reciprocates with negative feelings towards you.

But it is also possible that your personality is such that it gets on the teacher's nerves. You may talk too much in class or have an "attitude" that the teacher doesn't like. If you run into a number of teachers who don't seem to like you, it might be a good idea to take a close look at how you act. You may be the jerk.

Giving a rough time

Some students will give a rough time to teacher they don't like. They will act rude or cause trouble in class just to give the teacher problems. Perhaps the student will refuse to do homework or cut class just to avoid the teacher or to get the teacher angry.

Giving a rough time not the best route

Is giving a teacher a rough time in class a good approach for solving the problem of a teacher you don't like or one who doesn't act nice?

If your goal is to get through school with reasonable grades and with the minimum of hassles, giving a teacher a rough time is not the best route to take.

Remember that your teacher has power

Remember that the teacher has power over what grade you get. Giving the teacher a rough time because you think he or she is a jerk can be suicide for your grades. It isn't worth getting poor grades for the sake of showing someone up—unless you are a glutton for punishment.

It is better to use a positive strategy to handle a problem teacher.

Bad-mouthing your teacher

It is not a good idea to bad-mouth your teacher to other students—even to your best friend—because the word may get back to your teacher. This can really cause you problems.

Worse than criticizing your teacher to friends is posting insulting remarks on Facebook or other social media. Students who have done that have seen their grades affected if the teacher finds out about it.

Making the best of the situation

If you get a class where you don't like the teacher or don't get along with him or her, you need to develop a strategy to handle the situation in the best way possible for your well-being.

One idea is to try to get on the good side of the teacher. You can also keep a low profile and just cope in this class.

Be on the good side

It is always worthwhile to be on the good side of the teacher, even if you don't like him or her. Simply being cordial and making the best of the situation will make your time with the teacher less unpleasant.

In fact, you may be surprised to find out that the teacher isn't all that bad.

Keeping a low profile

Sometimes trying to get on the good side of a teacher who has an attitude toward you can backfire.

When I was a senior in high school, I took a class in Physics. In the first semester, my grade was an A. But then in the second semester, with the same teacher, I somehow got on the bad side of him. Maybe I talked out of turn in class or something.

So, I thought I would do an extra credit experiment in order to get back on the good side of him. Obviously, I wanted to get the best grade I could in this class. After school, I set up an electricity experiment, but then I accidentally touched two wires together and BOOM! There was a big flash. I shorted the wires, which blew out the fuses in the school!

The Physics teacher's face got real red, his eyes bugged out, and a vein on his forehead showed. He was extremely angry with me. My effort to get on the good side of him had backfired.

For the rest of the semester, I kept a low profile. I tried to be invisible in class, so I wouldn't give him a reason to give me any trouble. Although I deserved another A in the class, the teacher gave me a C. I could have contested the grade, but I was just glad to get out of that class.

The lesson it taught me was that no matter how hard you try, sometimes you just can't please certain small-minded people. I also learned to accept the setback and move on with my life.

Try to cope

If you have a jerk for a teacher, it is probably the best to simply try to cope with the situation to last out the semester. Perhaps in the next term you will get a better teacher.


Teachers who are unpleasant, real mean or just complete jerks may act that way because they hate their jobs, have a poor way of motivating students or just don't like you.

It is not a good idea to give such a teacher a rough time, because the teacher has the power to give you a poor grade and to make your life miserable in the process.

It is a better idea to make the best of the situation by trying to be on the good side of the teacher. If that fails, simply try to keep a low profile and cope until you can get a better teacher.

People rise to your expectations

Resources and references

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