Adam Cross

Editor - Newspaper, Swing Vote Chronicle

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How many "bad" teachers does it take to negate a good teacher.

When I was in High school I had an English teacher who, during my junior year, convinced 7 of her students to drop out. She explained to them that since they were not going to college "they were wasting their time, and hers".

So how many of these teachers does it take to completely ruin a teachers credibility in the eyes of a student?

The good teachers gave me hope but the bad teachers made me hate the time I spent with them. What can we do to make sure children and teenagers are enthusiastic in the classroom?

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    Jun 17 2012: In the US we did it to ourselves with unions and tenure. We can all attest to a "bad teacher" and it is no secret to administration who are "good / bad". Complaints roll in and documentation piles up. Anyone who continues to breath knows how hard it is to fire anyone these days, especially in the school system. During probation not so hard. Once a teacher has reached tenure it is almost impossible unless a moral clause is involved and then they go on paid leave until convicted.

    Even worse are "bad" administrators. They cost school districts millions. If they do not meet contractural obligations you can legally fire them. However, what happens is they sue and it all goes to court. The standard we use is if it is cheaper to pay up than go to court we pay up.

    I have recommended that these cases go to a arbitrator not to court. I did not get a Christmas card from the teachers union this year.

    Hate is a strong emotion and carries over into your day. If you start your day with the "bad" teacher it certainly impacts you for the rest of the day.

    As suggested, more pay .. I do not think that would make them a better teacher. Instead that would reward poor performance. Teachers complain but they work for 863 hours for the same pay others work 2080 hours for. Throwing money at a problem never resolved the issue. Maybe the answer is the parents and concerned citizens. Are we involved? Do you go to meetings. Visit classes? Go to board meeting? Interface with teachers, principals, and superintendents? Are you part of the problem or part of the solution.

    All the best. Bob.
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    Jun 16 2012: One bad teacher is bad enough. Words are powerful, and any teacher that runs his or her mouth like a broken tap, and discourages young learners, should be re-orientated or replaced.
    Teachers should be regularly assessed; and the progress of their learners monitored. After all, one of the main purposes of teaching is to impact knowledge.
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    Jun 27 2012: In each of my kids' lives there was one exceptional teacher for whom I am exceedingly grateful/ Even now I can name each one. I think that what kids need is parents who realize that we should be grateful for whatever we get and be willing to 'educate our kids at home. At least that was what worked for me.
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    Jun 18 2012: After reading through everyone's thoughts I see that the majority agrees with the idea that A) it only takes one bad teacher to ruin an educational experience B) These teachers should be fired or relocated.

    What is the initial filter for prospective teachers? Could bad teachers be prevented from entering the position in the first place?
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      Jun 18 2012: It makes sense to implement a teacher satisfaction survey for students in High School, akin to those given in universities. Of course, there is the counter-argument that students will give bad marks to teachers who are "strict" and are in fact the best teachers, but the benefits of having 'teacher-student relationship' consciousness could outway the costs.
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    Jun 17 2012: As much as necessary until contributions from good teachers are dropped into a certain level that enough to make contributions from bad teachers dominate.
  • Jun 17 2012: I remember every terrible teacher I had and every exceptional one. For the two disgustingly horrid there are are six inspiring. At the end of the day, maybe it was a personality clash but to be honest it seemed like they had lost heart and had forgotten the purpose of being a teacher.
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    Jun 16 2012: The ratio is 1:3.7
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    Jun 16 2012: I understand how bad a bad teacher can be. I can name the ones in my educational track. But I also learned a great deal from those teachers. I learned about life, power, advocating, how to control anger to move towards resolution. I didn't learn squat in the class but they did teach me a lot, much of which I still use to this day.

    I am in no way advocating we hire bad teachers. I agree with Mr. Anjorin that we need to replace them. But I also know these teachers were valuable in my education if only to help me learn how NOT to teach.
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      Jun 17 2012: I have had the same experience.of learning from bad teachers by deconstructing their practices. But that was once I was already an educated person. I don't think I gained very much from my horrible 10th grade USHistory teacher, and I don't think kids tend to gain very much from bad teachers very early in their educations. They can lose plenty, depending on the teacher's particular shortcomings.
      But the question was how many bad teachers it can take to negate a good teacher. I think having even one excellent teacher each year in an education would have trememdous impact on a student's education.
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        Jun 17 2012: Sorry. So the question is how many bad teachers does it take to ruin the credibility of teachers. For me just one. I remember in first grade we had a teacher who was upset about the length of one of her students skirts (OK it was a long time ago). So she made the student remove the skirt and sit in class in her slip. 6 year old child.

        I learned early that there were many bad people masquerading as teachers. like I said, I learned a lot about power. Every single teacher since then has had to earn credibility.
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          Jun 17 2012: Maybe we are similar in age. Grade school teachers had remarkable range in punitive practices. People were sent to sit in corners in dunce caps. Boys got "swats" from the boys' vice principal. My fifth grade teacher when we did not sing well in an assembly reprimanded us back in the classroom and followed up with a test on our times tables, forever imprinting on students' minds the idea of math tests as punishment. But these behaviors didn't convey any lasting message to me about teachers in general.
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        Jun 17 2012: Well, some of us learn faster than others. Just a little joke. In all honesty it demonstrates your ability to forgive. A true sign of a resilient person. I admire that. I tend to extrapolate the experience inappropriately at time as a self defense mechanism. And I remember well the damn math punishments and writing lines. I was not exactly a model student:)
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          Jun 18 2012: HI Linda, I would not blame yourself for being a bad student. History shows that the worst students can become the best people. Einstein, Churchill, Branson, and the list goes on.
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    Jun 16 2012: Let's raise the bar on what is expected from teachers. Let's pay them a little more, and let's fire anyone lacking motivation. Like they do with airline pilots, except that education is a lot more important.
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    Jun 15 2012: I would say 0 or infinity. In your example, 0. The atmosphere alone of that school would cause all good teachers to give up. In a situation where a teacher has said just the one right thing, or shown that one right thing that clicks for a kid and they turn 'on-a-dime', then no amount of bad teaching will negate that good that was done. In regards to your last question, my solution would be to fire bad teachers and administrators and make teaching the respectible career that it truly is.