I first saw the phrase “zombie teacher” in an article in the Irish Independent (the online version of which can be found HERE) and fell in love with it because it’s something that says what we’re all thinking. This particular article is more of a warning that the government will be trying to rid our schools of “zombie teachers”, but as Severus Snape would say, “before that happy moment of farewell," I’m going to tell you how to deal with them.
We’ve all had one. They show up to class five minutes after the pupils, inquire as to what page you are on, and read it out loud or demand same of some poor, unsuspecting student. Sometimes they assign no homework, but often realise that nothing has been done in a while so set a few five-page essays to make up for it. It’s always a surprise when they call you by your actual name, and you can’t remember the last time they wrote on the board. In a fit of madness, they have been known to take up copies, which are returned no less than two weeks later with a solitary red tick on the most recently filled page.
In short, they have little or no effect on the school and sort of wander round (yes, zombie-like) frowning and looking busy.
HELP! I’VE BEEN BITTEN...
The worst thing you can do when faced with a zombie teacher is allow yourself to be bitten and turn into one of them. (Have I got that right? Or is it just vampires that do that? Anyway, you know what I mean.)
Try looking around the zombie teacher’s class. Notice those with glazed or sometimes mildly irritated expressions, who aren’t taking any notice of the teacher. If your response to this suggestion is “why should I?” then you’ve probably already been bitten.
When you get bitten, you adopt the attitude of the zombie teacher. You stop caring about the subject in question because, well, if they don’t, why should you? You don’t bother with the homework because they’re not going to correct it anyway. Their class is a “doss” which you spend whispering about way more important things, like what you’re going to have for dinner, or whose hair looks particularly glossy this afternoon.
SUCK OUT THE POISON
(Again, I could be wrong here. I think this is to do with snakes... Just roll with the metaphor, people)
Even if you have been bitten, there’s still hope for you. Try approaching the zombie teacher (but do so with caution) and ask them to help you with something. This might remind them that they have a job to do and prompt them to blow the dust off that brain that has to be in there somewhere. Are they neglecting to grade your work? Ask them what grade you would have achieved, or even enquire as to what could be done to improve your work. Hopefully your enthusiasm will be contagious.
Falling victim to a totally unapproachable member of the Undead? It’s likely that you also have a really good teacher. Look at the methods they use and see what you can apply to the zombie’s subject. Maybe it’s keeping a vocab copy or taking notes in a certain way... if it works well for you, then it can probably be adapted.
Now, according to my dad, who used to be possibly one of the best teachers going (and I’m not being biased here), every teacher should make the class aware of the curriculum and what they’re aiming toward. Some of your teachers will do this, but it’s doubtful that a zombie will. You can generally find this stuff online, or why not (subtly) ask another teacher in the department? They might be able to help. It’s also a good idea to start looking at exam papers, so you know what all this work will be leading up to.
Most importantly, remember that the zombie teacher isn’t anything to be afraid of, and that they’re probably more scared of you than you are of them. They really should be working a bit harder, and sometimes a gentle nudge is all it takes. Remember, teachers are only human, even if they’re Undead. So be sure to ask lots of questions and do any work they do set to the best of your ability... otherwise, it’s only you who is missing out.