What Makes a Teacher Ineffective? 8 Brazen Habits of Inept Teachers

Effective teachers go above and beyond to meet the needs of their students. They are committed and dedicated.

Nonetheless,  when you go back to your school days, you might have had teachers who were, to put it bluntly, ‘ineffective teachers’. What makes a teacher ineffective?

habits that make teachers ineffective

Well, it could be their habits and practices that make them ineffective. What could they possibly lack? Obviously, it is not our responsibility to criticize others,  but we must also try to take a careful look at ourselves and make sure that we are not straying into some bad habits that can make us ineffective teachers.

It requires an honest inspection of our practices to be certain that we do not become less effective teachers.

Consequently, without further ado, here are the 8 habits that, according to my perspective, can make us ineffective teachers.


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What Makes a Teacher Ineffective? 8 Habits of Poor Teachers

1. Teaching without empathy

Effective teachers cultivate students with empathy.  Try to put yourself in their shoes. It is empathy that lies at the heart of what it means to be a human being. Teaching with a heart is empathy. And without it makes a negative impact on student learning.

Teaching without empathy can make us inept as teachers. When we don’t feel our students, we can never know where they are and how they are. We should care about them so we can meet their needs and not carry out our lesson objectives without depth.

In order to build trusted and secure relationships with our students, we must teach with empathy. This can develop strong attachments that help students feel welcome and safe in the classroom. If they feel your concern, it can boost their confidence to perform better in class.

Hence, we should not just present our lessons on a daily basis without considering our students’ capacities, conditions, and feelings. If you were a student, how would you want a certain lesson to be presented?

That’s empathy. It’s not just about emotions and feelings but also about delving deeper into what might interest your students the most.

2. Believing that a lesson taught is already learned

If you’re a teacher who is more concerned with quantity rather than quality, then you might have just believed that the lesson you present today is already absorbed by your students that you present another lesson the next day.

It’s a poor thing in the educational process.

Teaching without aiming for student mastery is not learning at all. In your heterogeneous class, there can be students who get it right instantly but never assume everyone is like that. Don’t assume that every lesson presented is mastered right away.

Then, what should you do to avoid this bad habit?

Check Mark, Tick Mark, Check, Correct, Ok, Yes, GreenAssess frequently

Do you do formative assessments in between? A simple 10 item quiz will do or a question and answer activity can be meaningful. The scores of your students or the interactive discussions you have are immediate feedback that can help you identify if things in the class went well.

Also, feedback can help you guide your students towards evaluating their mastery and not just assessing their performance.

Check Mark, Tick Mark, Check, Correct, Ok, Yes, GreenEnsure the level of mastery

Before you proceed to the next lesson, make sure that your students have achieved a high level of mastery of the learning objectives.  As part of your lesson plan, you can’t do away with a brief recall and assessment.

Check Mark, Tick Mark, Check, Correct, Ok, Yes, GreenReflect on the results

When you ask reflection prompts to your students at the end of the lesson, you might as well reflect on the results of the assessment.

“How can you make this learning activity work for your students?” To create more authentic and meaningful learning experiences for your students, you should try the good practice of reflecting on the results. What went well and what went wrong? Is there a need to reteach the lesson? Then, do it but you should modify the learning activities and make them more interesting.

3. Working to impress

If you always desire to be liked either by your students or by your co-teachers, then you probably spend all your time worrying about how you want these people to see you. It will undoubtedly have an impact on your teaching. Not in a nice way either.

Impressing people is a waste of time. Things can become superficial if you’re always into gaining praise and applause. Why not focus on improving yourself and your teaching instead?

Let’s take from the words of an unknown author, “Work for a cause not for applause. live life to express not to impress. Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.”

To give students more meaningful experiences and to give yourself genuine satisfaction in teaching, you should teach passionately. Only then can you work without waiting for applause.

Great teachers are rewarded because they make a difference in the lives of the students not because they impress their superiors and colleagues. Therefore, it’s practical to concentrate on becoming a good teacher that students can look up to and respect.

4. Not willing to differentiate instruction

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy in teaching. We all know that. But if you are not willing to go beyond to help your students learn at their best and are just content with one learning activity for all students, then something must be fixed immediately.

It has been observed that when we do not proactively use teaching tactics that are tailored to our student’s learning styles, the majority of our students will become disengaged in learning.

When students are given varied learning tasks according to their learning styles, they are more motivated to perform at their best; hence, they increase their performance. Moreover, with differentiated instruction, learning activities become engaging, challenging, and meaningful.

That is why if you use a single activity for all your students, you are depriving them of the best opportunities to learn. And this makes you an ineffective teacher.

Teachers who use differentiated instruction take in their hearts the principle that students progress at different paces.

5. Being inconsistent

Maintaining consistency in our best practices can be very difficult provided the how demanding our profession is. However, if we remain dedicated to our goals and to the school’s mission and vision, we own the most efficient approach to climb the ladder of excellence in education.

Eliud Kipchoge once shared, “I’m confident to say that if you want to grow in a profession, consistency is the key… I’m strict about my work goals and training.”

Being inconsistent with our efforts and ways can confuse our students. They might notice how energetic we were the other day and the lack of it the next day. Such confusion on their part, right? If we don’t change it, we can influence them badly as well.

6. Letting things pass

In my initial year in the teaching profession, I was afraid to deal with problems, especially student behavior. I found it insignificant. But soon I realized how it affected the class routines. We should not just let things pass otherwise a single problem will procreate more challenging ones.

The difficulty, unfortunately, is that if you don’t deal with little issues right away, they will grow into major issues.  Suddenly, your class has gotten out of hand and you are no longer able to function properly.

If a certain situation requires you to call the attention of the parents of the child, then do it right away. Send a communication and talk it over. Or inviting the child to tell him or her, “May I have a moment with you later?”. It is definitely alright.

It’s so easy to overlook a little misbehavior, such as a student who doesn’t listen nor participate in the learning tasks. If you don’t deal with simple problems right away, you’ll have to deal with complicated ones later. Hence, you have to address issues kindly, patiently, and consistently.

7. Showing obsequious obedience

This is quite parallel to #3, but with the aim of being appreciated over a favor such as promotion, light teaching loads, etc. Never allow yourselves to be called “pleasers”.  Typically, pleasers work to please their superiors, colleagues, students, parents, and the community.

But do you think it will enhance your capabilities as a teacher and make you effective? You are more likely stressed each day as you are always looking for ways to be pleased by everyone rather than improving yourselves for the benefit of the students.

You can’t just move too far if you’re showing obsequious obedience. Remember, it’s happiness when you get promoted and appreciated by your students if you’ve done something in their lives that makes them better. Make a difference by doing good and not by just pleasing anyone else. This in turn can make you an effective teacher – more selfless and passionate.

8. Not willing to learn from colleagues

Teachers all over the world can’t deny the value of collaboration in education. We can work together, share ideas, and coordinate information to enrich our teaching capabilities. However, if you’re unwilling to learn from your colleagues, then I’m afraid that you will fall into this bad habit.

If you are not willing to learn from your colleagues, then you lack professionalism and commitment. This can deem you ineffective.

You have to remember that effective educators strive for excellence and one way to do that is through collaboration and communication. You should strive to improve your craft to become a more effective facilitator of learning and manager in the classroom. Listen up. Collaborate.

If within a day you need technical assistance or want to sit in another class and observe the best practices of your co-teacher, then do it. It’s a good start.

<<< Afraid to fall prey to the bad habits of ineffective teachers. Watch this video and get inspired by the principles of highly effective teachers.


As teachers, we can’t be flawless all the time. It is inherent in our profession to strive for constant improvement in all aspects, including teaching pedagogies, classroom management, communication, and content expertise.

Never should we allow ourselves to become ineffective. It’s a threat to our pledge to provide accessible quality education for all.

The bad habits mentioned above can suppress our growth and can affect the performance of our students. Hence, they should be avoided or cut off immediately.

Let us know what other terrible habits you’d want to see included in this list. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.