Advice with Adam: How students should deal with teachers that hate them
The dread of walking into that AP math class accompanied me every morning. It was the third quarter, and math was my worst subject. But that wasn’t the reason for my daily dread. I thought the teacher hated me. It’s still unknown to me now whether or not that perception was a reality, but, nevertheless, its effect was: I hated the class.The “my teacher hates me” trope appears to be a common complaint among students. Whenever friends confided in me with these complaints, I often nodded along with them while I thought to myself that the student was most certainly at fault. However, I didn’t bestow upon myself the same judgment. Realizing this hypocrisy was the stepping stone that led me to understand that the first step of atoning for a bad relationship with a teacher is personal reflection and taking responsibility.If you think you and a teacher got off on the wrong foot, it may be beneficial to consider what you may have done to cause the unfortunate hobble you find yourself in. In my own case, I had just started driving myself to school, and my long commute often made it difficult to judge what time I could leave the house without being tardy. Also, the course load of my school year was probably too much for me to handle, causing me to not get enough sleep and, as a result, doze off in first period. Other follies could include talking at inappropriate times, neglecting to do homework, or displaying a poor work ethic.You may have a good justification for each of the offenses you’ve committed. People have bad days, bad weeks, and bad months. At this point, the second step is acknowledging how your actions, regardless of the context, may have affected your teacher.When we make mistakes, we often inform ourselves that it doesn’t reflect who we truly are. However, our thoughts happen to be inaccessible to everyone else, so our actions are all that there is to consider. My teacher doesn’t know about the stress of my other classes or the sense of remorse I feel when stuck in the traffic that I could have avoided by leaving five minutes earlier. All he might see is a disrespectful punk who doesn’t care enough to be present and awake. And if I was in his shoes, I would feel the same. Take time to reflect on how your actions might be perceived by your teacher.Now that you have a grasp on why your teacher might have a negative opinion of you, you can work on bettering their judgment. The moment I realized the perception of my character I was giving to my teacher and that it wasn’t what I wanted it to be is when I decided to change.I set alarms extra early to make sure I wouldn’t be late to school. I did homework during the day, so I could sleep earlier at night. And while not the healthiest option, I would take caffeine in the morning if I was still feeling particularly tired. For good measure, I also worked extra hard in areas that I was already average at. I did all of the homework, even when it wasn’t mandatory. I paid attention to lectures, asked questions afterward and studied well for tests. Not only did my relationship with the teacher improve, but I also did better in the class. Showing that you’re a good student that’s willing to go the extra mile can work wonders on how your teacher perceives you.However, it is possible that your first impression has already tainted his or her judgment of you so much that corrective efforts have little effect. In this case, it may be useful to talk to the teacher and have an honest discussion about how you understand the mistakes you made early on and you hope to rectify them. Having this sincere dialogue can demonstrate that you are serious about wanting to improve your standing in the class in a meaningful way.Finally, it’s important to remember that it may be impossible to please everyone. It’s possible that there are some teachers who will always have their first impression of you at the forefront of their minds, possibly rendering any rehabilitation irrelevant. Just like with everyone else, you can’t control what anyone else does or feels except yourself; your best option is probably to continue to work towards being a good student and work hard in class. There’s little else you can do.Teachers are people, too. Putting yourself in their shoes can also help you to understand and rectify any discrepancies in your relationship with them.
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