‘Bad Teacher': Nightmares From The Education System

The raunchy comedy “Bad Teacher” opens today in theaters, reuniting former Hollywood power couple Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake. Unlike their first meeting at the 2003 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards (the two began dating shortly thereafter), sparks decidedly aren’t flying between Diaz and Timberlake in the film – at least as far as we can tell from the red band trailer.

Diaz plays Elizabeth Halsey – an unorthodox junior high teacher who clearly cares less about the education of her students than she does about wooing Scott Delacort (Timberlake), the wealthy new substitute at her school. She takes a new interest in academic achievement, though, when she finds out there’s a cash prize in it for her if her class outperforms that of a rival teacher (played by the hilarious Lucy Punch), all the while spurning the advances of lovable gym teacher Russell Gettis (Jason Segel).

Halsey’s abysmal practices – which include pummeling her students with dodgeballs and smoking pot in the school parking lot – got us thinking: have real-life teachers worked with similarly inappropriate colleagues? As it turns out: there are plenty of bad teachers among us – check out what they had to say!

“When I was in eighth grade, my mom – a former art teacher – decided to start substitute teaching again, for extra cash. She generally stayed away from my school district, to avoid any conflict of interest. One day, my class gathered in the art room and in walked my mother. She informed us that my teacher was out sick, then proceeded to sternly run down a lesson plan for the day. If that wasn’t mortifying enough, the guy I’d been crushing on all year thought it’d be funny to joke and talk over her, so she sent him to the principal’s office within the first five minutes of the lesson. I still have trouble disciplining my students – I think I’m permanently traumatized!”
– Courtney, elementary school teacher

“Of course, the idea of a ’bad teacher’ can mean many things. There are the bad judgment incidents, like the male teachers who couldn’t be bothered to read maps, and got three groups of kids lost for hours on a hiking trip. Or the teacher who hated correcting papers and stuffed all of them in the trunk of her car and left them there for years. How about the teacher who couldn’t pronounce the names of her foreign students, so she named them all with a number? Also there was the young woman who took a teaching job to help pay expenses until she entered graduate school the next September. She frequently wore white pants with a black thong underneath (this did a lot for the imaginations of those 7th and 8th grade boys). Then, to keep everyone busy at the end of the year, she showed the movie ’Traffic’ in her classes, absolutely traumatizing an entire group of 7th graders. Needless, to say, she was not invited back the next year.”
– Joanne, former 8th grade English teacher

“I know a teacher who – whenever a student falls asleep in class – takes an eraser from the board and throws it at his head, much to the amusement of everyone except said sleeping student. The resulting chalk mark on the head is always a big hit in the class. As for me, it is my own personal policy that if you can legitimately make me laugh on an exam question you don’t know (with a unique and clever response), I will give you 1 point – up to a total of 3 points – on your test. It’s perhaps an example of teachers doing things that wouldn’t be considered the best teaching practice, but it is loved by the students in my class – few have been able to receive the point, though many have tried.”
– Bill, English teacher (grades 7-12)

“In one middle school that I taught in, there were two art teachers. I taught students for a 10-week block, and then switched groups with the other art teacher for the second 10 weeks of the semester. The other art teacher allowed the students to pretty much run wild, they produced poor quality work and the teacher had very little control in the classroom. When we switched groups and I had to attempt to reform the unruly students, the resulting conflict was not pleasant for any of us.”
– Cynthia, former art teacher

Share your “Bad Teacher” war stories in the comments section and on Twitter!