Take credit for your student’s success? then take the blame for the failures.

Nothing makes me question someone’s teaching ability more than when they brag the achievements of one of their past top performing students, and then launch into a rant about how the bottom of the class is wasting everyone’s time because these students are lazy, unintelligent and/or unmotivated. We all have superstars in class and they will always perform well. All one has to do to get the superstars onside is to flatter them a bit while offering some sort of helpful advice. These students can do wonders for your teaching reputation as they are invariably the most outspoken and articulate and therefore most likely to tell everyone how wonderful you are. Hence, catering to the elite end of the class is probably the easiest and surest way to advance your teaching reputation. However, it does not make you a good or even passable teacher. The top 10% always takes care of itself, it is how you deal with the other 90% that separates the great from the descent teachers.
If you want to have my respect for your teaching then ask or tell me how you deal with your worse student. What techniques and methods do you use with the ones who are struggling? What ideas or approaches are you considering to improve their performance and yours? I have some ideas, like emphasizing what is beautiful about the subject and always trying to emphasize and bring out what is the most astonishing and amazing aspect of whatever topic I cover. I m convinced that only by kindling a genuine interest can one hope to motivate the bored students.  In addition, I have found that treating even the worse students like responsible and reasonable adults who are not stupid, but perhaps misguided, or who might have problems outside of class can help as well. Remember that no matter how much a person screws up, doesn’t attend class, or misses assignments, no one wants to be a failure. The question you have to ask the student is why are they behaving that way and what can they do to change that behavior?  So what do you do with your problem students?
The bottom line is that you should not take credit for your students’ successes unless you are also willing to take the blame for their failures. The real measure of your teaching ability is how much better ALL your students’ are with your help, than they would have been without it.


  1. Well hello there! It was so nice to visit your blog and especially to read this blog post. And there is also one thing that I would like to ask you. Do you practice guest blogging?

  2. In reply: As you can probably guess by my late reply, I am swamped with teaching at the moment and hardly have time to keep up on my own blog. I would consider it, but can't promise anything until I have an opportunity to catch my breath. Let me know what you have in mind.


Post a Comment