The 6 Cringe Habits of Highly Annoying Online Teachers

By Keith Michael Howard | Last Updated: October 19, 2021

annoying online teachers represented by ugly birdThe problem with annoying online teachers is that they don’t know how truly annoying their bad habits are.

While the title here might be considered to be mean, sometimes a heavy dose of reality is needed to snap teachers out of shooting their courses in the foot.

After watching hours and hours of online class recordings, these are the 6 worst habits of annoying online teachers.

1. Annoying online teachers have terrible audio quality.

I once knew a teacher who didn’t realize his microphone sounded like a box of nails falling down a flight of stairs for 6 MONTHS.

For half a year, his students had to grit their teeth and try to understand his unintelligible instructions.

There’s no excuse for this.

There’s an easy solution to ensure that you don’t sound like The Cookie Monster at an Oreo factory:

Periodically record your class and watch the replay.

If your microphone sounds like a toddler learning the tambourine, cough up the dough for a new one before your student experience scores drop like a rock.

2. Annoying online teachers narrate EVERYTHING they do.

I feel a little bit bad about this one as I know the reason why it happens, but at the same time, it’s just so frickin’ annoying.

Many annoying online teachers aren’t comfortable with technology. As a result, they tend to self-soothe their anxieties by verbally announcing every single thing they do.

A more professional, seasoned online teacher will say something like:

“Just give me one moment to get the link. (A short silence). There you go, the link is in the chat.”

Whereas an annoying online teacher will narrate every detail like they’re writing a computer literacy manual.

“Now I’m going to Google Drive, and I’m clicking on the Doc. And I’m clicking “Share” and I’m changing the link to “Edit”, and I’m copying the link. And now, I’m pasting the link in the chat. And now the link is in the chat. Go ahead and click on the link.”

The difference here is 18 vs. 52 words!

And those extra 34 words are completely useless! In fact, they’re counterproductive.

The solution here is awareness. Again, go back and watch your class recordings.

Realizing, in horror, that your babbling self-narration makes you look incompetent and detracts from your in-class experience should do the trick.

3. Annoying online teachers have poor digital hygiene.

This is my biggest pet peeve.

Do you have coworkers who can never find their links? Or when they share links, they don’t bother to label them?

These are the symptoms of poor digital hygiene, which create a confusing course experience for learners and teachers alike.

To be very clear, if you’re teaching online, links are of paramount importance.

Your course is made up of links, and a failure to properly organize them in a way that’s easy for your to access is borderline negligence.

It may not be on purpose, but anyone who has taught online for more than a few months knows that a lost link can bring your students’ learning experience to a screeching halt.

Then there are other teachers who do organize their links, but they fail to share them correctly.

They send naked links.

A naked link is a mess of numbers and letters that gives the user no indication of its contents. They also can’t be searched for later.

As an example, let’s imagine a teacher shares 10 naked links during their class. Afterward, a student wants to review materials in one of the links, but because they are all naked – they will have to click through each one of them.

This is a prime example of breaking the flow of learning and making accessing course materials more difficult than it should be.

The solution here is simple. Gather the links your need while planning your lesson, and LABEL THEM using CTRL+K. This will allow you to send labeled links, which is helpful to students as well as being easier to search for later if needed.

4. They are openly negative about online learning.

Imagine being excited about your new online class. You’re wondering if the teacher will be nice, who you’ll make friends with and what you’ll learn. There’s optimism in the air.

Then, the first message arrives from your teacher saying, “Unfortunately, we are online for this course, but I guess we don’t have a choice.”

Normally, this negative strain of annoying online teachers were usually diehard face-to-face educators. Not only do they prefer a traditional classroom, they believe that distance learning is inferior and resent having to do it.

For some reason, they lack perspective on what is going on in the wider world.

Indeed, teaching online isn’t their preferred course delivery method and they were forced into it.

However, they also still have a job whereas a lot of people don’t anymore.

This sounds judgemental because it is.

What they are doing is making the problem worse, and is unfair to their students who have paid the fees and shown up to learn regardless of the difficulties they face in their own lives.

Their job is to teach the class to the best of their abilities, not to complain openly to your students and coworkers about the delivery format.

5. Annoying online teachers take in-class difficulties personally and start yelling.

A perfect example of this is when an annoying online teacher, who has bored their class to death narrating their clicks, calls on a student who does not respond.

This insecure distance educator will immediately assume that the student is “ghosting” them and may even verbally confront the student about the issue.

They take it personally and respond as if the student has done this on purpose to spite them.

To avoid this, if a student doesn’t respond then I will ask if they are having “tech problems” and tell them to send me a message to let me know they are okay.

The truth is, they could be doing just about anything, but it isn’t going to change their behavior or improve your class if you make the student lose face as loudly as possible.

Aside from non-responsive students, I’ve also seen teachers blow their lid due to tech problems.

Listen to me very carefully: computers do not magically fix themselves because you become upset. Usually, the opposite will happen as you are not calm or cool enough to do a little troubleshooting with Google.

The bottom line is that yelling does not work well online because the reality is that your students are only going to tune in to your class if they find it to be meaningful and enjoyable.

6. Annoying online teachers’ communications are ad hoc.

Not knowing when or where to expect communications from your teacher can be extremely frustrating.

There are a plethora of messaging apps, and the course you’re teaching probably has more than one tool for communicating directly with students.

But which one? And how often should students be checking it?

By not making your communications method and routine clear to your students, you have magically created a confusing and annoying learning experience.

The other issue here is your students may not be familiar with the messaging tool you prefer using. They might even need a little training to understand the basics of how it operates.

Without an awareness of the problems that inconsistent, ad hoc communication by the teacher can cause – you’ll likely be discovering a communication breakdown far too late.

You can also tuck message response time into this category. Are you consistently getting back to students promptly or are you often playing catch up with messages, and delaying feedback or answers for days?

A basic communications plan can help alleviate these problems, but it must be shared and understood by students to be successful.

If they know when, where, and how to access course communications without confusion, a major barrier to delivering a well-organized online course has been overcome.


If you’re thinking this is too mean then I’d like to flip the script on you.

plot twist poster for annoying online teacher

Five out of the six bad habits here are things I have done in the past. I didn’t use a bad mic for 6 months, but everything else is something I’ve done at one point or another.

The difference is that I don’t do them anymore. Once I became aware of these course killers, I made adjustments.

It may not be easy to find one of your habits on the list, but making changes to amend any of these issues will result in more enjoyable and meaningful classes for yourself and your students.

Key Takeaways

  1. Watch your class recordings and take note of bad habits to break.
  2. If you’re terrible with technology, check out my article about why you should learn a little bit of code.
Hi, I'm Keith, an education technology innovator and host of The New Curriculum Specialist. But I wasn’t either of those things 2 years ago. Then 2020 happened. To adapt, I learned a little bit of code and things have really taken off from there. Not that bad for a guy who failed Math 6 times.

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