Chemistry is a challenging class and is often hard to understand. Chemistry is almost like learning a foreign language with a lot of math thrown in to make it even more difficult. What’s worse, you may feel that your chemistry teacher is downright mean.
Your chemistry teacher may seem horrible because they are overworked and suffer from stress and burnout. They may be having personal problems or reacting to poor student participation and bad behavior. In rare cases, your teacher may be a toxic educator, and you should tell someone in authority.
Teachers are humans like students and have good days and bad days. Often teachers are just frustrated that their students show no interest or respect, and you can play a part to fix the problem. Here are some ways to tell if your teacher is suffering from stress or is just a horrible teacher.
Chemistry Teachers Are Human Too
Maybe your chemistry teacher is not horrible, and you haven’t taken the time to understand the difficult position as educators of a challenging subject. Teachers have so many pressures and even have some of the highest recorded stress levels of all the occupations.
Students often label teachers as horrible when their own behavior is also pretty rotten. Students who disrespect their teachers may get the same medicine back. However, there are some really awful people in the world, and you just might have one as your chemistry teacher.
Let’s look at some reasons why your teacher seems angry and frustrated in the classroom and how to understand the pressures your teacher may be facing. Most importantly, there are some ways to differentiate between a teacher under stress and a teacher who should take up another occupation altogether.
Teaching Chemistry Is Hard
Chemistry is a scientific discipline that explores life at a molecular level and is challenging to understand and teach. Often students are neither motivated nor particularly interested in the subject but merely take the subject for future career choices.
Research and teachers rank Chemistry as one of the most challenging subjects to teach students of all the secondary school syllabus.
The most cited reason for the difficulty of this subject are:
- Most of the subject deals with abstract concepts.
- The problem of linking abstract concepts to everyday life.
- The specialized and challenging language of chemistry.
- Lack of suitable teaching aids.
- The math-heavy component of Chemistry.
In a survey of both students and chemistry teachers, the students and teachers agreed that the highly abstract nature of chemistry concepts was a barrier to learning. The difficulty of the mathematical component of chemistry was also a common issue between teachers and students.
However, teachers found that overcrowded classrooms and a lack of teaching aids and support affected their ability to teach the subject properly. In contrast, students found that their difficulties lay in part in how teachers explained and taught the subject (source).
Your Chemistry Teacher Is Overworked
Sometimes it’s hard to see your teacher as a real person, especially when they seem like they really don’t like you. You might think they just have a 6 to 7-hour day and holidays off and fail to understand the “behind the scenes” stresses of coping with teachers’ workload.
Besides having to manage caseloads of individuals each and every day of the week, teachers also have to contend with:
- Planning their daily lessons.
- Grading students’ papers.
- Preparing tests, pop quizzes, and assignments.
- Attending student-teacher meetings and staff meetings.
- Respond to student emails.
- Collaborate with coworkers.
Often teachers spend much of their weekends and evenings planning and preparing their syllabus for their students. Most teachers have their own families who demand a lot from their time, making it challenging to find time to destress and unwind.
Teachers have enormous pressure to prepare their classes for upcoming tests and exams.
If the work is not covered before the students write their exams, they may lose their job for non-performance. If you are part of a class that is falling behind or disruptive, your teacher may even fear for their livelihood.
Your Chemistry Teacher May Have Psychological Problems
You might see your teacher as a terrible person when in fact, they are just having a difficult time coping.
We don’t know our teachers’ intimate lives, or for instance, the “Dragon” Chemistry teacher may have a marriage that is in crisis. Your teacher may have lost a loved one or be suffering from depression.
A clinical survey of 555 teachers conducted in 2016 found that depression symptoms and feelings of psychological well-being were the lowest of any of the comparative professions (source). Another random survey of 1500 teachers found that teachers’ stress levels were far higher than in other occupations.
Long-term working hours combined with the pressure of constant monitoring from superiors, including testing and the high stakes accountability, make teaching one of the most high-pressure occupations.
Post-COVID stresses have added to the teacher’s already compromised sense of mental wellness. CNBC posted an article reporting that 1 in 4 teachers are considering quitting in 2020 (source).
Your Chemistry Teacher Has Burnout
In a Swedish teacher study, around 40% of the teachers expressed a sense of inadequacy. They felt that they were not doing their job to the best of their ability and spending enough time interacting with their students or preparing for their teaching activities appropriately.
Because the teacher workload is so high and they function under such time pressures, they often don’t have the time to meet the needs of special needs students and are forced to prioritize certain students over others (source).
Teacher burnout occurs gradually as a result of the extensive and long-acting work stress in the teaching profession. Teacher burnout is characterized by:
- Exhaustion with lack of emotional energy and physical fatigue.
- Cynicism shows as a detachment from students, other teachers, and work in general.
- Inadequacy manifests as a lack of a sense of value and accomplishment in the classroom (source).
You Are Not Playing Your Part
Many students who complain of mean teachers are often partly to blame for the situation.
Teachers may feel that you do not respect them as teachers and become harder on you in class. You need to ask yourself if you may be at fault in the classroom:
- Do you come to class on time?
- Do you have your work prepared for class?
- Do you pay attention during class?
- Do you talk back to your teacher when they reprimand you?
- Do you take notes and hand your assignments in on time?
Students who play on their phones during class or engage in jokes or conversations while a teacher is trying to teach can frustrate a teacher. Students who make fun of their teachers can hurt their teacher’s feelings and make them angry.
After all, teachers are human and react to being made fun of just like you do if your peers mock you.
Teachers have a tough job, often faced with students who have no real inclination to learn. It’s not easy being watched and evaluated by your superiors and having to manage a room full of people who would rather be anywhere else.
Teaching is challenging and often underpaid, even though the role of a teacher is so important in our lives.
Some Chemistry Teachers Can Be Toxic
Almost all of us who have experienced the school system have encountered outstanding teachers who changed our thinking or even our lives. Some wonderful individuals with a calling to teach can impart more than just their knowledge but shape you as a human being.
While many amazing people are doing this tough job for very little recognition and pay, every now and then, there is a teacher who is a downright sadist. We have all experienced the trauma of being trapped in a classroom with a toxic teacher.
But what are the signs of a toxic teacher? Let’s look at them now.
Signs Your Chemistry Teacher Is Toxic
If you are sure you are not part of the problem and that your teacher isn’t just having a bad day, you might have a toxic teacher. You will find mean-spirited people in all walks of life, and the classroom is no different.
Unfortunately, a toxic teacher has power over students, so it is not always easy to stand up to them.
Often toxic teachers will find favorites and use them to ignore, belittle or humiliate other students in the class. They are often poor communicators and use classroom control as an excuse to let out their aggression on students.
A teacher who has no respect for their students or gossips, verbally abuses, and favors students over others has no place in the teaching profession.
In a survey of 275 11th grade students, researchers found that these four common negative teaching traits that most affected students were:
- Behaving aggressively in class was the highest-scoring of the negative teacher behavior on the student sample.
- Speaking too fast and not allowing students to grasp concepts properly was the second-highest negative quality students perceived in the study.
- Threatening students with low marks was another factor that students rated highly on negative teacher qualities.
- Discriminating between students or favoritism ranked the fourth most significant negative impact of the students in the survey.
If your teacher makes you or other students feel humiliated or rejected, chances are they are abusing their position as teachers, and they should be held accountable. Teachers and students should respect each other, and no teacher has the right to abuse a student or make them feel humiliated verbally.
What To Do If Your Chemistry Teacher Is Horrible
Often when we are in school, we feel that teachers are some other kind of species. We don’t empathize with their hard work and the demanding hours they spend teaching students who often show no appreciation for their efforts.
Teachers have feelings and emotions just like students do, and they can become mean when they feel that students do not respect them or disrupt their classes. Before you tackle a toxic teacher, you need to ask if you are part of the reason why your chemistry teacher is so frustrated and mean.
If you honestly feel that you have been a committed member of your chemistry class and your teacher still mistreats you, you should take steps to bring your teacher’s behavior to the appropriate adult. Make sure you have a good case to bring forward.
Filing a report to the Ombudsman’s Office that Professor Brown is horrible without proper examples won’t state your case properly.
Start Writing Down Examples and Times of Teacher Misconduct
Start a diary of your school week, listing examples of what you believe is toxic behavior from your chemistry teacher. For instance, you could write:
11: 36 AM. 22/10/21
Professor X laughed at my answer when I put up my hand and made a joke about me to the class.
She then asked another student and said, “See, not everybody is so slow.” Professor X ignored Jenny Rae when she put up her hand and rolled her eyes. She said, “I’m not even going to bother..”
Once you have recorded several incidents, you have concrete evidence of your teachers’ bad behavior that can be reported.
Enlist Other Students To Speak Up
If your chemistry teacher is indeed a bad apple, then you are not the only one that may be feeling anxious and unhappy in the classroom. One student filing a complaint may just be regarded as a student/teacher personality clash.
Several students reporting misconduct is a more serious case for teacher misconduct.
Just remember this. Teachers often have to put on a brave face to their students, even if they suffer emotionally.
Sometimes people may have issues going on that their students can misinterpret as just being plain mean. Students should understand that teachers are human beings too, and allow them to have a bad day or two.
Before you label your teacher as horrible, take the time to put yourself in their shoes. You can help turn your teacher around by showing interest and respect in the classroom and being an active and engaged class member.
If you still believe your teacher is horrible, you should do something about it, as no one has the right to mistreat you even if they are in authority.