In light of recent events, I thought it best for students to understand when they should avoid professors like the plague.  Here are some tips.  You should avoid a professor…

  1. …if he is subject to a special agreement which warns future staff members that he has mistreated staff in the past.
  2. …if your professor can’t handle classroom management calmly.  Cell phones go off, people cough, sometimes students even whisper to one another.  The question if you’re the professor is:  Do you go ballistic over it?  Really, once a  professor does that he will always be known as “that guy who snapped about the yawning.”
  3. …if your professor belittles students regularly for asking questions.   Often times, it isn’t because the student asked a question which was clearly answered in the reading, but because the professor doesn’t know the answer and is too insecure to admit it.  Now, it is true sometimes students ask repeated questions to delay advancement, but there are ways to handle that without being mean.
  4. …if your professor has an anger management problem.  This means that the professor decides that you are worthy of having a book, cell phone, or eraser tossed your way (or any other projectile) or handles classroom management through violence.
  5. …if your professor has decided that his or her class is more important than every other class you have to take, to the point of scheduling additional classes which are not scheduled.  No one’s class is more important than any other, except of course mine are very, very important.
  6. …if your professor is literally losing his mind.  Yes, I know it is often times a fine line between a sane professor and an insane one.
  7. …if your professor shows up to class inebriated, or, if you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if he had.
  8. …if your professor looks down at the casebook as if he or she is reading it for the first time or otherwise looks completely unprepared.
  9. …if you watch movies in class (and this is all you do).
  10. …if the discussion you’re having is outdated by changes in the law which occurred in the past 20 years.
  11. …if your professor is more concerned about his or her schedule than yours.  Example: “Uh, we need to make up the class I missed because I was sunning in Puerto Rico.  How is Saturday night at 7 p.m.?”
  12. …if your professor likes to insult students, regardless of whether or not it is in the guise of the Socratic Method.
  13. …if your professor refuses to tell you what he or she expects from you, either on a syllabus or in class.   Moving target games.
  14. …if your professor often tells stories about how he was the perfect student.  That is a sure sign of memory lapse.
  15. ….if your professor clearly believes that he or she is a deity of some sort or feels the need to try and prove it.  The “God” complex goes well beyond Doctors.  I once had a professor who read aloud the acclaim of other professors, found conveniently on the back of his book.  I walked out.  There was no need for me to feed his need for external validation.
  16.  …if your professor is an anonymous blogger.

None of this is to say that students are always angels.  Students like to test boundaries sometimes.  The professor’s reaction to that, however, sets the tone.  No one will remember what the student did, but the professor’s reaction will be forever.