How Do I Positivity? Dealing with a Bad Professor

The positivity train took a serious hit this week (think hitting an elephant not an opossum) and nearly derailed.

Ah, where to begin.


I have this professor who exemplifies not only the scourge of the educational community, but possibly the scourge of the earth. It’s not that he’s particularly unkind, he’s simply not a good teacher, and at a horribly expensive Ive League graduate school for teachers, I expect excellence.

I could also tell you that he’s a social dum-dum. To a classroom of grad students from varying backgrounds, he talked for nearly half an hour about how state schools give lacking educations and if you don’t attend an Ivy League, you’re probably not very smart. Oh and then he explained how public schools are terrible too. Perhaps now he can explain to us how people with student debt are idiots and hit all of his bases.

Know. Your. Audience.


This week we got a paper back, one of only two for the semester. I’ve been worried about it for weeks even though I put in a lot of good work on it. The assignment was enormously confusing and the content is barely covered in the course despite his incessant lecturing. The only thing I was certain about were my citations.*


Luckily, in this school, there’s very little option to fail: mostly the focus is on mastery learning so almost every assignment can be re-written. Great, cool, on top of everything else I’ve got, I’ll just re-write a paper that I still don’t understand. Sure, great.

Needless to say, I was fuming. I think my lips were pursed so hard and my eyebrows knitted together so hard that I gave myself wrinkles. I knew that I needed to pull myself out of it; there is literally not enough time for me to slow down to be angry.

If you find yourself on the brink of madness like me, try these tactics:


  • I tried fantasizing about my life one day living far from this stressful city, perhaps on an island, teaching students who worship me and drinking piña coladas on my porch which doubles as a dock.
  • I tried fantasizing about a melodramatic trial in which my professor is stripped of his job and his title and then left in stockades overnight where I would lead a hoard of my adoring students to throw rotten fruit at him.
  • I tried to take the high road and consider that perhaps he simply wasn’t taught how to teach, perhaps he’s having an off semester, maybe he doesn’t mean the stupid things he says.
  • I tried to put it in perspective; remembering that I have to opportunity to redo the assignment, I have the freedom to attend school and follow my aspirations, I have running water and enough food and shelter, I have much more than many women in the world. I am balancing on the top of a sharp pyramid of privilege.
  • I considered pooping in a bag, lighting it on fire, and leaving it on his doorstep…or even just pooping in his office.


I honestly can’t tell you which one of these worked, I’m sure it was a combination. In the end my rage and frantic energy dissipated and I remembered that at the end of this semester he will continue living his life and I get to carry on rocking mine. One of us wins.**

Best of Luck.


*Never a good sign…

**It’s not him


5 thoughts on “How Do I Positivity? Dealing with a Bad Professor

    First, I doubt you’d want to study or live in a state where this is OK!
    Second, I’m sure you’ll get by with a little help from your friends, like my daughter’s fellow student who acknowledged her and a bunch of other folks in their summer field school as part of his announcement that he’d completed his thesis. His acknowledgment of their contributions included this statement: “You all helped make archaeology seem like the most entertaining and enjoyable thing that I could do in this world.


  2. I bet UW-Madison is looking pretty good to you right now! Never fear – this too shall pass (and UW had a few of these professors too.) Reading your blog reminds me of how utterly competitive grad school was – that was the only part of the experience that both surprised and disturbed me.
    Keep staying above the fray. You have a great future ahead of you and no one in that school has the power to prevent it from coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol, yeah. It’s definitely a university system problem in general I’d say, from student competition to some professors being bad teachers. Aw well, like you said I’m just going to keep on keepin on. Thanks for reading!


    1. Yeah I believe so, plus I’ve put in a complaint with my advisor and plan to go to his department head. I also somehow managed to pass the assignment so I don’t have to redo it, which is a huge blessing. Thanks for reading, Patti!


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