Attention teachers: Do you suffer from the ‘Boring Teacher Syndrome?’

Attention teachers: 

Is your class one of the last ones to get filled during registration week? Is that class currently registered at the maximum number of students, but half of the students barely have a regular attendance record?

Do students always have their heads down, eyes closed, yawn excessively, have their phones out texting, continuously surf Facebook and always seem to have to leave early?If you have two or more of these problems, you are the latest victim of ‘Boring Teacher Syndrome.’ This disease means you are failing to engage your students and probably have a high ‘class drop rate’ each semester your course is offered. Students are only enrolling in your class because of degree requirements. They fear coming to your office to express concerns to only be talked to death. Your class can ruin anyone’s day and there is even a possibility that your colleagues avoid you as well.  This illness most commonly affects teachers at the collegiate level. While they may be the most qualified in their subject area, the achievement of multiple degrees, a past position in that field and a tenured teaching position causes the professor to lose sight of why they chose that career in the first place. It is no longer about filling empty minds with the tools they need to be successful; instead the effects of ‘Boring Teacher Syndrome’ causes professors to walk into classrooms completely unprepared, not even knowing what direction they want to go in. Students have sat in countless classrooms where the professor rambles about topics that, many times, have nothing to do with the subject the class is supposed to be about. Although many students may not admit it, the classes students succeed in most, has structure, the professors generally sticks to the syllabus and genuinely seems excited about teaching everything about their field. If more teachers did these things, this illness would not even be an issue.What’s bad is that even when students attempt to get something clarified, asking a teacher suffering from ‘Boring Teacher Syndrome’ a question, just traps them in another long-winded conversation that leaves that student frustrated and answerless. Students are also placed in a lose-lose situation because when we go to other members of the class and ask them the same question (in the event that that they are not lost as well) that same professor gets annoyed, and that student runs the risk of gambling their grade being based on a perceived attitude verses actual performance. Teaching for so many years has numbed your teaching abilities to the point that you may be acknowledgeable about the material, but the execution of teaching it to a new set of students, who are unique in learning style and knowledge level, is not up to par. What worked for previous classes may be a completely failure with others, so not only is there a need for more effort towards getting to know your students, but also their learning style. Adjustments to your teaching style to accommodate these differences need to be made. Before writing this, I talked with a few teachers and asked, “What am I supposed to do when the classes I’m paying over $20,000 a year for are putting me to sleep?” They generically responded for me to “ask questions to make the class interesting.” Personally, I do not see how that solves the problem. Question asking is for when you do not understand or when you want to know more about something specifically, not for when a teacher has stumbled off track and needs to be guided back to reality. I believe that is the job of the administration, but they cannot fix what they do not know is broken, right? So here is my advice: Deans, Assistant Deans, and whoever else can be in charge of firing recommendations, take note from high school and elementary school principals, and squeeze into your schedules a day of random unannounced classroom visits. Then you can see first hand the misery students are subjected to. This may seem a little elementary, but it is part of your job description to make sure these professors give the best education possible to the students enrolled. How can you be sure this is happening if you do not take the initiative to find out? Believe it or not, those end of the semester surveys are a joke. Sure, students could stop by your office one day to discuss these issues, but your work day is from 8am to 5pm. For those students who are concerned enough to voice their experiences, our days are filled between those hours as well and for several hours after that with classes, jobs, meetings and lectures, so sometimes dropping by is not convenient for us either. ‘Boring Teacher Syndrome’ is not something to be taken lightly, especially since it is highly contagious among teachers. The reputation of your department and this university is at stake, and that is not something A&T can afford to gamble with.  

  • LaRia Land