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Ten Ways to be an Ineffective Teacher with a Job

Updated on June 28, 2015
Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin attempts to discern the logic, or lack thereof, in various, topical social issues.

So, you became a teacher because you love children and genuinely care about their welfare, but you’ve recently come to understand that the only way you can survive at your current school system is to become an ineffective teacher. Yet you don’t know how to do this and survive until retirement. Have no fear; there are steps that can be followed.

Below are 10 tried and true ways to be bad at your teaching job, fit in, and prosper for as long as you are committed to confusing, intellectually stunting, and mentally debasing the youth of America.

The right to educate is one thing, but do you have the ability?
The right to educate is one thing, but do you have the ability? | Source

1. Listen to Everything Other Ineffective Teachers Have to Say

You’re bright and fresh, straight out of college with your degree in hand. Your college instructors have done their part to instill in you all the best teaching theory. Then you meet your most senior coworker, and at his or her behest, discard all that effective teaching theory because every time you bring up something that may actually work in your classroom, senior coworker says things like, “I’ve tried that. It doesn’t work here,” or “That’s a good idea in the ivory tower of academia, but our students are too stupid for that to work,” or “Don’t work so hard. It makes the rest of us look bad.”

Before too long, you’ll get the hang of things. Do the things that don’t work, just like everybody else, and don’t rock the boat. Don’t work too hard, at least on things that would benefit students, but always look like you’re working.


A classroom of engaged, comfortable students. This will never work.
A classroom of engaged, comfortable students. This will never work. | Source

2. It’s Always Somebody Else’s Fault

One of the biggest keys to being an ineffective teacher with a job is to always pass the buck. It is sometimes precarious to be a terrible teacher and keep your job, but this is the life you’ve chosen. If test scores are poor and getting worse, don’t fret: just blame your abnormally dumb students. If that doesn’t work, you’re going to have to find a sacrificial lamb.

You know that new know it all teacher down the hall that nobody likes? The one who works her tale off, uses proven teaching theory and is getting positive results from her students? That’s who you and your colleagues blame for all the recent problems. There will always be somebody like her to pass the blame off on, thank God. Some brave fool that’s far too busy doing things the right way to waste her time while you and your colleagues undermine her to the powers that be until she is eventually fired.

At some point you will notice that you spend as much time making good teachers look bad as the good teachers spend on being effective instructors, but you have one thing the good instructors don’t have: job security.

Ineffective Teaching

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3. Say Hateful Things About Your Students in the Teacher’s Lounge

Talking bad about your students is actually a very dangerous practice. If the wrong ears overhear you saying these things, you can find yourself dismissed from your job in a hurry. What is more dangerous than this? Not gossiping about your students with all the other ineffective teachers. To not be like everyone else is career suicide--a sure way to become another sacrificial lamb.

There are tricks to the successful badmouthing of students. Don’t talk bad about students with financially successful parents, parents on the school board, or parents in administration. This is a serious misstep, and it will get back to the student’s parents and result in your dismissal. Instead, pick on the poor kids, the ones who don’t have a voice in society. Their parents are usually either working so hard to keep the family afloat or in prison or so far from grace that they can’t impact your life if they try.

Some other tricks of the trade: say these bad things loud enough so they can be heard from the teacher’s lounge in the hallway, but amongst other gossiping teachers so the rumors you start can’t be definitively traced back to you. Remember, you’re an ineffective teacher, and you can hardly be as ineffective if you don’t make students feel bad about themselves.

In addition, try to insulate yourself from harm when being confronted for starting vicious rumors by saying you were discussing said student for professional purposes (by the way, “insulate yourself” is a staple term of the ineffective teacher). For instance, you were talking about Blake’s mother being a big tramp ad nauseam with colleagues just loud enough for students passing by in the hall to hear because you are worried about how poor Blake’s personal life is impacting his studies and welfare.

Look the Part

"Busy Work" is a good way to make it look like students are learning.
"Busy Work" is a good way to make it look like students are learning. | Source

4. Shoot Down Any New Ideas

Every time a new teacher comes in with new ideas, berate this teacher publicly and behind his or her back. If possible, try to come up with quasi-plausible ideas why these plans won’t work, but if none can be found, stick with the basics you learned early on. “We’ve tried that here. It doesn’t work,” regardless of whether or not you’ve tried it or if it worked. “Our students are too dumb for that to work here.” “I’ve been teaching here X years, and you come in and act like you know more than me,” or any of the plethora of excuses you have learned in your years of ineffective teaching.

One other neat trick is to somehow make every new idea an issue of prejudice. For example, if you’re a female teacher and the new teacher fighting for change is a male, say something like, “Mr. Whoever’s idea won’t work. You know why he’s pushing for it? He just can’t stand a woman in power!” Yes, this has nothing to do with starting an after school tutoring program, but prejudice is a hot topic, and you will soon find everybody on your side regardless of the irrelevance of your argument.

Remember, ineffective teachers are lazy teachers at heart. Yes, it takes a great deal of energy to shoot down every new idea, but new ideas are synonymous with effort, progress, success, and positive thought. Yuck!

Keep an eye on the troublemakers tossing out new ideas. Take note of which route they choose. Are they going to conform to the norm or become your next sacrificial lamb?

5.Students with Influential Parents are “Good” Students

You can’t expect to survive as an ineffective teacher if you don’t float students with important parents good grades. Yes, these students are obnoxious, spoiled, and bully the other kids, but somebody else can fix these problems; you’re trying to keep a job here.

If these privileged students start getting under your skin, simply release this aggression by overreacting to the actions of students without important parents.

The Good Old Days

One of the best ways to keep students from learning is to cultivate a classroom devoid of discussion.
One of the best ways to keep students from learning is to cultivate a classroom devoid of discussion. | Source

6. Make Sure Your Students Don’t Learn Anything

It will take many years of work and fine-tuning, but if you are a top level ineffective teacher, eventually you will be able to put together a lesson plan that looks sound to the untrained eye but results in students learning virtually nothing. It is easier said than done. Young people have minds like sponges and whether they admit it or not, they want to learn. This is dangerous for the ineffective teacher.

Educated students become productive young adults. Productive young adults become teachers and administrators. View every student as a potential threat to your livelihood. The more dumb people in the world, the more benefit for you to reap from being educated.

There are a number of ways to structure your class so students don’t learn. Busy work, anything where a student can copy information while his or her brain is not actively engaged is good. Memorization is good, especially if the information memorized is outdated or irrelevant. While all fields of study require at least some memorization, pure memorization is one of the lowest levels of cognitive thought. Make sure it is pure memorization and not accompanied by any analysis or true level of understanding.

Finally, just use ineffective teaching methods, anything that doesn’t have a long term positive outcome. There are a number of methods that make a teacher look like they are really doing a good job in the short term but have virtually no educational value.

7. Don’t Explain Why You Do Things

One of the most positive things you can do for a student’s learning experience is explain why you chose to use the teaching methods you’ve chosen. Students with a grasp of their surroundings, the how and why, are likely to flourish. So it is obvious that the ineffective teacher should do the opposite of this. When students ask with genuine concern, “Why are we doing things this way?” Answer gruffly and indignantly, “Because I said so!”

To add confusion, give poor instructions. Make them vague so they are malleable enough that you can say students are doing things wrong no matter what they do. This also gives you the freedom to give influential students good grades in a manner that will seem plausible in your bookkeeping. (Tip: When you choose to be an ineffective teacher a plausible paper trail is oh so important!)

8. Be a Bad Example for Your Students

It should be obvious that mixed signals are a key ingredient to ineffective teaching. There are many examples of this, but I will give just a few. Tell students to listen when they are spoken to, but whenever students speak, continually interrupt them, act disinterested, or find other things to occupy your attention. In addition, when people come to visit your classroom for announcements, do the same, unless these people are influential, of course.

If a student has the gall to call you out on breaking your own rules, say something that sounds wise but actually isn’t, like, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Obviously, this should be said in a hateful manner. Another good trick to impede discussion, carry yourself in a manner that is intimidating and unapproachable.

Rich Kids

A good rule of thumb: if the student's car costs more than your yearly salary, they get an A.
A good rule of thumb: if the student's car costs more than your yearly salary, they get an A. | Source

Ineffective Teacher Quiz

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9. Have Administration’s Ear

One of the best things you can do to “insulate yourself from harm” as an ineffective teacher is win positions of authority. When you have the chance to head a committee or be the chair of something, raise your hand and say, “I’ll do it!” This makes your opinion worth more than everyone else’s. It also gives you the chance to get in good with administration. You’ll need to talk the talk, though. Really make it look like you’re getting things done, when in fact you’re doing nothing. If questions of ineffectiveness arise, you can always blame your underlings.

I know taking on responsibility goes against the ineffective teacher’s wont for laziness, but look at it this way, most of these positions don’t require you to teach at all. In many cases, they even get you out of the classroom and impede the learning process. That is why these positions are so easy for the unqualified to gain access to. Effective teachers like to focus on teaching, and they don’t ask for these positions.

At the very least, always make sure like-minded, ineffective teachers get these positions of influence. If even one competent teacher gets into a position of power, your whole scam is compromised.

10. Safety in Numbers

All of this posturing is done so you can stay an ineffective teacher surrounded by ineffective teachers. Just imagine what would happen if you let your guard down and good teachers were allowed to flourish. Once the tide has turned and there are more of them than there are of you, all is lost. You might as well find a new place to teach, and your true mission, the true mission of ineffective teachers everywhere, retirement, is jeopardized.

Teacher's Lounge

For the ineffective teacher, the teacher's lounge is a good place to make fun of the underprivileged kids.
For the ineffective teacher, the teacher's lounge is a good place to make fun of the underprivileged kids. | Source

Closing Thoughts

I have covered here just a few basic steps to being an ineffective teacher with a job. There is a lot more to know, but these fundamental steps should put you ahead of many other ineffective teachers out there. You will have a quiet, organized looking classroom as a result of these steps, mainly because everyone will be too afraid to say or do anything, much less think. You will have the power and influence that will allow you to retire despite the fact you’ve never done a solitary positive thing for anyone.

Thousands of your students will enter the workforce with no verbal or analytical ability whatsoever, and you will have perpetuated your ideals in such a manner that thousands of students to come will be likewise afflicted. You will retire a decorated educator, and eventually reap your reward of a home near a warm lake of fire.

Author’s Note:

Obviously, I was having a little fun here. I was a teacher for 9 years, and personally I believe that the majority of teachers out there are actually pretty good, and our school systems as a whole aren’t worthy of as much social scorn as they receive. Also, I think even our good teachers have done something in line with the 10 ineffective teaching steps lined above at some point. The main thing as an effective teacher is to catch and fix problems with our methods as they arise.

But some teachers take it upon themselves to do all 10 things outlined above every day throughout their careers. These 10 steps are a pretty fair representation of the sort of atmosphere one can expect in a bad school system. I’ve seen it firsthand. People who should never be given positions of power given positions of power and perpetuating their ignorance—that’s the formula.

Sometimes they make their way up all the way to the state level simply by doing everything in a self-serving manner that outwardly looks good. The most disturbing aspect to me is not that people do this. Scams are prevalent in our society and exist about everywhere. What is most disturbing to me is that a great many of our ineffective teachers actually think they are good at their jobs.

To hurt the future of students and colleagues, to undermine an educational system that is setup to help, that is one thing. To be so socially inept that you think this is the right thing to do, now that’s scary.


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