The 7 Deadly Sins of Teaching

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If you could list 7 of the worst habits found in teachers and in teaching, what would they be?

1. Lust

One of the 7 deadly sins of teaching, is for the teacher not to show their feelings.

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This is not about lust in the sense of having ‘feelings’ for a student. This is about teachers failing to show emotion in their teaching and general relationships with the classes they teach. Students love teachers who bring learning to life; students also love teachers who show ‘themselves’ to be real individuals with personality, emotion and passion. Students do not enjoy teachers who are motionless, perhaps too private; teachers who are fearful to share their opinions and feelings towards children they teach or worst of all, the subject they teach.

2. Gluttony

One of the 7 deadly sins of teaching, is for the teacher to waste their expertise.

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Every teacher is (mostly) qualified to degree level. This should mean that teachers are experts in their field. Gluttony in this sense is for the teacher to fail to explain knowledge, skills and understanding. To fail to share their expertise.

A teacher may for example, fail to fully answer a child’s question, nor accept that they do not know the answer; or that they will try to find it out for the student. They may even fail to challenge the student to ‘go find’ the answer for themselves and bring it back to class. This type of teacher has gaps in their subject knowledge and as they teach older students higher up the school, their own knowledge is challenged and students ‘sense’ that the teacher is not the expert in the room. The teacher may cut corners in subject-skills, for example during demonstrations, and avoid explicit terminology or clarity in their instruction. It is probably one of the worst sins of all.

3. Greed

One of the 7 deadly sins of teaching, is for the teacher to be greedy for themselves and not of their students.

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This teacher put themselves first before the child. This sin or type of teacher is very rare indeed. We know by default, that teachers are naturally inclined to put the child first; quite the opposite of ‘greed.’ An example of a ‘greedy’ or ‘selfish’ teacher may be that they arrive late to class, often. They may also be late in the morning to school, late to assembly or always last to hand letters out to their tutor group. This means their children are last in line for school performances, trips out of school or general notices.

It is rare, but this teacher is absorbed in their own ‘personal work’ rather than the students and their work.

4. Sloth

One of the 7 deadly sins of teaching, is for the teacher to be lazy.

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Workload is an issue for every teacher and to mark students’ books is a never-ending task. However, this sin is for a teacher who ‘never’ marks a child’s book for an entire academic year. They probably opt for this option due to the fact that neither student, parent or school will be asking ‘why not?’ Once this teacher finds the gap to reduce their workload, they may often continue down this path until it is noticed. Failing to mark a student’s work is a sin.

(I have written about Sloth Teaching before – it was very popular!)

5. Wrath

One of the 7 deadly sins of teaching, is for the teacher to avoid ‘getting to know’ their students.

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This teacher will have poor relationships, perhaps a bad attitude. More often than not, students will feel the wrath of this teacher in their lessons more than others. This teacher may have a ‘corridor-reputation’ for shouting and being heard with (or without) the classroom door open. This teacher is full of rage and may have uncontrollable feelings toward their class when students get answers wrong, or show disrespect. In this example, the teacher is often irrational and students find the teacher unpredictable. In very extreme situations, this teacher may show signs of anger (or may throw an object)!

6. Envy

One of the 7 deadly sins of teaching, is for the teacher to be envious of others.

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Envy is a rare characteristic found in teachers, but when ‘envy’ is discovered in teaching, this is exposed in the discontent of others for promotion or in allocation of task. It is rarely found in teacher-student relationships and is more often than not, heard in staff rooms, offices and broom-cupboards. Most scenarios come to light at the end of term after many, many beverages.

7. Pride

One of the 7 deadly sins of teaching, is for the teacher to have too much pride.

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The best teachers adapt to the needs of their students. They adapt over time, but the most-efficient teachers can adapt ‘in the lesson.’ For example, the lesson may not be going according to plan and students may be unable to grasp a difficult concept. The teacher with ‘pride’ will plough on regardless and may a) fail to notice students struggling or b) blame students for their lack of i) listening ii) effort or iii) poor attitude to the subject. Whatever it is, this teacher will stick to their own path and ignore the needs of the the child.

What do you think?

Do you agree or disagree? Are there any sins missing that have not been mentioned above? If so, leave your comments below.

Disclaimer this post is designed to be a light-hearted poke at teaching and teachers. Do not take it seriously.

This was a blog-title challenge by @rljones1981.


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10 thoughts on “The 7 Deadly Sins of Teaching

  1. A light hearted look at us teachers for sure. I would disagree though that the “greedy” teacher is a rare being. I have always had at least one of this type of teacher in the team. Having to remind them to hand out letters, having to get someone else to collect their letters for them from the pigeonhole, having to remind them that being on time after break is important- was getting the team leader down.These teachers sound awful but they can be the loveliest people but very frustrating to their tutor group and middle leader. But- they just do not seem to see the issue and believe their leader is “on their case” causing stress to everyone.

    Coaching has been key to enable them to be able to start to see the potential consequences of their behaviour and what they could do to make sure they are pulling their weight. After three sessions the person I have in mind began to bring other peoples post on a regular basis for them. Yey! This was so much better than having to constantly nag and it ended up with a long term lasting effect. Interesting to see if the non greedy behaviours continue after a holiday!

  2. Re the first point, I think one of my Year 9 (soon to be Year 10) students agrees! When I asked about good Maths teachers, she said:

    “What makes a good Maths teacher is someone who is passionate about Maths and explains everything REALLY well. I think being passionate is really important as we students can tell if a teacher is enjoying a subject and sometimes the explanations of topics are better when a teacher loves a subject.

    I think it is also important that the teacher can challenge the most able students whilst making sure that the least able are keeping up.”

  3. I loved this lighthearted look at teaching traits. Unfortunately, I could think of specific examples of wrath and envy, and also greed…!

  4. Thanks for the useful thoughts and interesting connection of the 7 deadly sins to teaching. I suppose the same holds for relationships generally. The world might be a better place if everyone thought this way as they interacted with anyone on our planet. Putting one’s self-interest after, or at least at par, with those fo others would be a great steps forward for humanity.

  5. Maybe more secondary than primary? For example, wrath is one that many stricter teachers would be accused of but ‘the earful’ can be used sparingly and genuinely when behaviour or attitude was poor, it did the trick to be able to boom once in a while. However, we have them all day, every day for a year and know our pupils inside out in a way that is difficult for secondary teachers, who may only see the class once or twice a week!!

  6. Missed maybe the worst one:

    #8: CONTROL – Too many teachers cannot give up control, all the way from the layout of the classroom, to the huge number of rules, to the specific pedagogy used, … , to the vehicle choices for student work.

  7. I think 2 is a little debatable as a fine line of encouraging students to find answer themselves to develop research. I agree there are some teachers who do it all the time and is a lack of subject knowledge.

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