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Anti-Teacher Credibility: 10 Great Ways to Become Unbelievable (in a Bad Way)

By Dave Stuart Jr.

Last time, I looked at teacher credibility and its four components. (Read that post here.)

This time, I want to examine the same crucial topic from a negative angle. What are the ways in which we might lessen our students' belief in our ability to help them succeed? How might we undermine their perceptions of Trust, Competence, Dynamism, and Immediacy? For many of these, I have personal experience — so if you feel “condemned” by anything in the following list, know that you are in good company, friend. We are never finished becoming the teachers we hoped we'd be when we first set out.

10 Great Ways to Undermine Your Teacher Credibility

  1. Don't trust students. After all, once a kid stole your stapler, right? (Trust)
  2. Manage your classroom unfairly. The sweet and innocent kids are allowed to misbehave once in awhile, but those rowdy ones, or the ones that really know how to push our buttons — they can't be given an inch! (Trust)
  3. Have no plan for the first and last minutes of class. After all, kids need time to get settled and time to unwind, don't they? (Competence)
  4. Accept that, sometimes, in-class debates or discussions just get loud and obnoxious and rude, and there's nothing you can do about it. I don't have a snarky way of remarking about this one. Just, the thing is, when we don't manage discussions well, and when we don't teach through the hard parts, I think it gives our kids the impression that the wheels have fallen off. (Competence)
  5. Filibuster. This is when you kill class time with life stories or tangental conversations. Soooo easy to do. And it so kills urgency. (Immediacy)
  6. Be nice to your students when they are around, but speak ill of them after class. Again, so easy to do. But I think kids are smart, and they can tell when we don't like them. Also, our brains aren't as good at compartmentalizing as we want to think sometimes — when we speak ill of our kids behind their backs, we are going to have a harder time really connecting with them. (Trust, Immediacy)
  7. Never share anything about yourself with your students. #5 is the classic over-sharing problem, but if we don't share anything about ourselves with our kids, then we make ourselves unrelatable. (Immediacy)
  8. Pay no mind to your distracting speaking tics. Alternatively: don't film yourself teaching. Watching myself teach is the most painful way for me to see where I could be speaking better or more clearly. It's the only way to detect my PVLEGS glitches. (Dynamism)
  9. Don't commit to hard-and-fast unit end dates. When we commit to summative assessment dates or due dates, and we share those dates with kids, it shows them that we have a plan and we're going to see it through. An additional benefit here is that setting (and struggling with) unit end dates is the only way we get good at figuring out how long stuff really takes. (Competence)
  10. When students fail, don't reflect about how you could have done things differently. Even if 99% of a student's failure seems to be her fault or her choice or whatever, there's still the 1% that I could have had an impact on. (Trust)

Again, all learned from personal experience — if you feel like one of those is aimed straight at you, then you're in good company. How have you accidentally torn away at student perceptions of your trustworthiness, competence, dynamism, and immediacy? Feel free to add more great ideas in the comments section.


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