Back to School - Dealing with Frustrating Teachers & Classes

For the last week of September, I'm sharing my tips + tricks with those of you who are freshmen starting high school or college this fall. These are the little bits of wisdom that I've gained from the storytellers in my life and my experiences thus far. Today, I'll go over the topic of dealing with cold and/or unaccommodating teachers. I've had many experiences with staff and faculty in high school and college that have led me down the road of confusion and constant stress, anxiety, and frustration. As a kid who grew up with a respected professor as a father, sitting in on his college classes as a youngin', it is hard to act as though I don't know a thing or two about what a good teacher looks (and acts) like. Or, at least what they should be like in my ideal world.

Perhaps there's always a few bad apples at every institution, and most of the teachers I've had the experience of working with have been incredibly bright and inspiring people (yes, teachers are people too). Even the hardass ones have been inspiring, and have challenged me to great heights in my educational progress, forcing me to answer the questions I didn't know how to ask before.

In particular situations, I've dealt with the occasional teacher that is very unaccommodating and ruthless. Either they don't grade papers until the last minute, or don't have a proper leniency around absences due to illness. It didn't matter how soon I turned the papers in, or how many assignments I made up without much direction/the number of doctor's notes I got. I've handled teachers that change the class schedule and reading list at the last minute, and care very little about your work schedule and extracurricular activities.

The best thing you can do in these sorts of situations is to first speak with the teacher themselves no matter how intimidating that can be, and if you cannot resolve it, take it to their supervisor: in high school, the principal, and in college, the class secretary or representative, that can then be passed on to the dean if necessary. Personally, I also find great support and empathy from other classmates. It's good to ask around and see if other students are experiencing similar or identical situations as you are, and if they feel as strongly about it as you. In my experience, most of them usually are, and you can find great comfort in knowing that you just can't be the crazy one.

The third way I deal with these unnecessary stressors is by relaxation. I pour myself a cup of tea, curl up with a good book, listen to some music, write (or blog), maybe some retail therapy--anything that will get my mind off it. Whatever will be will be, and we have little to no control over a teacher's behaviors unless it is a dire situation. Fourthly: DO VENT! Shout to the mountain tops, and get it out of your system. If you keep the stress bottled up, it'll make the experience worse for all parties involved.

My best piece of advice is to soldier on, and just learn how to deal with what ya got. Kill them with kindness, and perhaps that teacher will be one of your greatest allies later on down the road when you truly need to use their expertise for your career. Remember that standing your ground is good and that you should never settle for being treated unprofessionally, however most importantly: never burn bridges. You never know when you might need to cross them.

How do you deal with frustrating teachers?