top of page

Educational Leadership Transparency and Accountability

"The teachers aren’t being held to a consistent standard, and are able to avoid communication when students and/or parents have questions. It takes a team of support for any student to do well.” -Concerned Parent

quote from A paradise Company about education

"The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet."(1)
Reverend Theodore Hesburgh

It was 4:32 am on Jan 05th, 2023. I woke up to dozens of group text messages from a variety of peers; both students I was currently in classes with and peers from my school and other schools. The collective feeling was “Grades are out, and I’m not okay with them.” It has become standard for me to create group chats and such where peers can have a safe space to express themselves, but also connect and build relationships with other classmates. In these groups, we discuss assignment comprehension and support one another with resources ranging from strategic studying tools to simply being an “ear” for frustration. It has been a beautiful experience that caused me to begin building a virtual “student center” for all students. I had been accustomed to the anxiety that blossoms during the week of grade releases, but I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to experience.

“Paradise, wake up. I know it’s early, but grades are out!”, texted a peer. After seeing well over 114 messages since 4 a.m., I quickly went to review my own grades. Now, before we get deep into what was happening, I want to make clear that I too tend to be a grade-obsessed student. While I have a very successful career, I still choose courses related to my industry with the hopes that I will learn new and interesting things relevant, and be able to apply what I am learning today, to my career today. One of my favorite (and hardest) courses “Marketing and Branding in Sustainability” permitted me to do just that. The only way that was possible was because the professor worked within the framework of Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TiLT) (2).

Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TiLT), is a set of teaching strategies that focus on making transparent to students how and why they are learning and engaging with course content in particular ways. This framework also includes accountability on the part of the teaching team. This is important because being transparent will limit the amount of trauma students experience.

Trauma-sensitive and trauma-informed schools are spreading around the country. But if they don’t start with how schools themselves can induce trauma, they won’t work.

Educational Trauma is an emotional response due to harmful systemic practices perpetuated by educators and school staff that often have a long-term effect on students (3)

These traumas are, too often, due to ignored barriers to education

  • Child labour.

  • Conflict.

  • Disability.

  • Gender discrimination.

  • Language challenges.

Students who are experiencing trauma can be retraumatized in school through poorly chosen readings, activities, and assignments. Most recently, a beloved darling was facing a challenge with their child’s teaching team. They created an assignment that had been clearly void of trauma-informed leadership. The students were instructed to create a journal that would be based on their traumatic pasts, with the intent to showcase a thriving future. Those 8th graders were learning about immigration and “how immigrants chose to come to NY for a better future.” The assignment and readings around it completely dismissed the realities of people of color; then and now. The teacher stated that their intent was “learning about what it was like for immigrants ‘back then.’" What this teacher was missing was that the immigrants and communities of color were, at present time, experiencing racism in school and in their communities. In many communities, there hasn’t been a collective thriving future. Instead, 15-year-old children have to worry about not appearing too “threatening” so they don’t lose their lives. More often than not, students of color (also those in the queer community and those differently abled) are in survivor mode; they don’t get to think about a beautiful future. So to require an assignment that forced a person to crawl through their own traumatic experiences with the hopes that the students would be able to equate their experiences to the likeness of immigrants (primarily) people of color with the attitude of “See, it gets better”, completely dismisses the reality for many persons of color, specifically.

This kind of erasure—an implicit suggestion that the racism students live with is either imagined or exaggerated..and everyone gets the happy ending—can compound the trauma of experiencing that racism. The same is true of assignments and activities that force students to write about or act out traumatizing experiences, like simulations, without consideration of the associated trauma. Regardless of the intention behind them, such activities can be more hurtful than helpful. When discussing the issue with the parent, they stated, “It’s disorienting and damaging when students aren’t given the opportunity to explore these injustices in their present worlds. It’s further damaging to dismiss that the teaching team's perception of what’s considered traumatic is going to be, often, completely different; as they are coming from a privileged position. To make matters worse, the teachers aren’t being held to a consistent standard, and are able to avoid communication when students and/or parents have questions. It takes a team of support for any student to do well.”

The parent was 100% correct. All students should be able to look to their teaching team, their at-home team, and their health team for support. Having a strong educational support system is imperative for us to thrive. This especially applies to University Students, who often are moving through their educational journey relatively alone(4). This is why having a strong support system at your school is extremely important – not just in the form of friendships but through services our schools should offer. This includes Personalized Academic Advising, Supportive and Engaging Faculty, Healthy Career Planning, and more. Above all, accountable educational leadership is 100% necessary for students to truly grow through their academic journey.

Harmful Curricular Structures

Outside of individual lessons, other curricular structures can harm students. Randomly calling on students is a regular way professors get their students to participate in class, but studies reveal this may not be the most beneficial way for students to learn. During my research for this article, I asked students about their experiences with being called on without their consent. “It’s that panic moment where your mind goes blank — you’re not stupid, you might know the answer, but your mind goes blank in the moment of realizing you have to speak in front of so many people. It doesn’t help that when you do speak if the professor teaches through their ego, you’re never giving enough of a satisfactory answer. They just dismiss you, which makes you not want to raise your hand again….and they wonder why more and more students aren’t speaking up”, said a recent Yale graduate.

On one hand, it can be argued that being randomly called on is beneficial in situations where students may not be paying attention or failed to review the topic of discussion prior to class. In theory, yes, when you are taking a class, you are supposed to be there to learn the material. However, are teaching teams taking into consideration that there are students who simply want to remain quiet because they may be introverted (5)? This is a core issue with participation points as a form of grading; especially if it holds significant weight. (6)

“Participation [20% of grade] – The success of the course depends on active and lively discussion among both the students and instructor. Therefore, all students are expected to meaningfully participate in each and every session and demonstrate that they have thoroughly read all of the assigned material. Frequency and most importantly quality of contribution to the class discussion will be assessed and reflected in the class participation score.
Several criteria will be considered when evaluating your class participation:
· Quality of class participation is most important. Sheer quantity is neither sufficient nor desirable.
· High-quality class participation is thoughtful and includes comments that add to our understanding of a situation and help move class discussion forward. It goes beyond mere repetition of case facts or simple truisms.
· High-quality class participation is supported with qualitative and/or quantitative analyses.
· Comments should take into account and build on the comments and analyses of classmates and be relevant to the topic under discussion.”

The above is an example of a participation rubric. A few major red flags jump out at me. Multiple times, there is the statement “Quality is most important”. The first question that comes to mind is, who is the authority on what is considered “quality engagement”? When you read on, you learn that what is considered “quality” is stated as,

“High-quality class participation is thoughtful and includes comments that add to our understanding of a situation and help move class discussion forward.”

What happens when the grading authority doesn’t believe that the comment is “thoughtful” enough? As a leader, I practice being realistic about my metrics of quality when I am training (which is exactly what teaching is) anyone. I do my best to not measure them against my level of understanding (otherwise, they wouldn’t need the training), but instead on the basis of analysis.

  • Did they have an opinion?

  • If requested, could they explain why they possessed that opinion?

  • Are they able to source data to support their position?

  • Can they do so within the moment they are making their position known (ie: Data readiness )?

If I find that the trainee cannot, the responsibility comes back to me.

  • Did I communicate effectively and efficiently?

  • Did I provide feedback on previous tasks in an effective manner?

  • What language was my feedback in (ego or growth)?

  • Have I, as their leader, been communicative, transparent, structured, and present?

These are all questions every person in an authoritative position should ask themselves prior to casting a perception of our own about another’s abilities. If leaders would do a self-assessment first, more often than not, leaders would find significant areas to improve within our systems, which would create a healthier environment for the persons the leader is responsible for. Unfortunately, this level of self-regulation isn’t the norm, and students (and team members in a company) are, too often, handcuffed by policies that permit the toxic environment to thrive.

Speaking strictly about the educational environment, policies that over-regulate students’ behavior are another way schools may be traumatizing students. Particularly potentially unethical are hyper-strict behavioral or disciplinary policies that mask their own inflexibility as a lesson in “responsibility”. This focus on responsibility is “coded language,” and it minimizes people who are marginalized not just in schools, but outside of schools as well. When the teaching team enforces hyper-strict zoom-video policies for “on-camera” expectations, they are choosing to willfully dismiss the realities that come with remote learning. One of the parents of a second-year Undergraduate at UCLA told me that their home life is completely different than their Undergrad’s on-campus life. When the student was forced to be on camera, it disregarded the student's mental health.

Data Speaks Volumes

According to a study by Castelli and Sarvary (7), 41% of students said they turned their cameras off because they were “concerned about [their] appearance”: They had messy hair, were wearing pajamas, or hadn’t yet showered. Relatedly, 17 percent of students felt that everyone was watching them, creating a sensation of unbearable self-consciousness.

Through my own conducted study, I found that of the 100 students polled, 87% felt highly self-conscious on camera because it was a camera, and courses were often recorded whether students honestly consented or not.

“Why does the digital space require video to be on? A student is capable of producing work regardless of whether or not they’re on camera. Requiring them to be on camera is nothing short of egotistical teachers who refuse to teach to “faceless” people as they feel like it’s a waste. If a teacher were actually confident in their craft, they would reach students regardless of whether or not the video was on.”,

was some of the feedback on the subject.

Another thing to consider is that persons, who learn in a different language, like Autism, are often overstimulated by being on camera (8), having to stare directly at others on the screen, them staring at you….and you staring at you. I know this because I am on the spectrum, and I always turn my display view to “instructor” or something similar. It’s highly distracting to have gallery mode on…and even more distracting when I can see myself. In addition to the plethora of studies that have shown that it’s more harmful to enforce “camera on”, this policy 100% dismisses the realities of many students who do not have a traditional educational environment.

For instance, many of you reading this are avid readers of mine, which means you know that I spent the last 6 months undergoing treatment and relearning how to walk, all while being determined to fulfill my educational responsibilities. Hardly do I ever miss a class. If I have treatment, I put in my earbuds and keep my camera off (to respect those around me who are also taking treatment). Over the last 2 years, I’ve had to have several major procedures, including 3 brain procedures. Each time that I was hospitalized, I’d have my medical team set up my computer and such so that I didn’t have to miss class…but also wasn’t making my body strain to be present. This term was significantly more difficult for me, psychologically, as I was only 73-82 lbs. This made it hard for me to be comfortable on camera knowing that everyone would be staring at me, seeing how sunken my eyes and how grey my skin had become. Due to unreasonable “on-camera” policies, I did my best to be on camera --with the exception of days that treatments went longer than usual...and I was heavily penalized for it.

It’s ever more important that teaching teams are cognitive about their policies and flexible in ways that do not punish students for circumstances that are usually out of their control, but that also do not force the student to wear a label and/or expose their circumstances to strangers. Even with all the easily accessed studies out there, still, hyper-strict policies persist and often go unchecked.

“It’s really difficult to convince school leaders that these normative practices are hindering the growth of students, not just inside the school building but also in their outside communities. There are many well-intentioned traditions teachers aren’t willing to question. Even worse, when they know better, but still refuse to grow forward in their practices”

said Jonathan Maybury, a TA at Brown University. He goes on to state that unnecessary restrictions on things like homework and participation are maintained purely out of the fact that “it’s always been done that way”. He mentions seeing students embarrassed by teaching teams for not grasping a concept the way the authority wanted, but that the authority hadn’t done their duty to ensure there was sound comprehension. Instead of leadership taking accountability, they dumped the responsibility on the student, using scapegoat strategies….which only reinforces the kind of dehumanizing treatment that many students receive from unjust structures out in the world.

The parent of the previously mentioned 8th grader mentioned that it's not just the policies but the attitudes behind them that let traumatizing practices go unchecked. “There are a few notions in school I find incredibly problematic,” he says. “One is the notion of deservedness, and one is the notion of gratitude. There’s a lot of traumatizing behavior that occurs under those two stances.” We discussed cases where teachers offered to help a student by being lenient on an assignment and were expecting the student to show gratitude for the teacher’s sacrifice. "Such practices", he says, "assume that the relationship between teacher and student is transactional rather than relational. A transactional mindset can warp educators’ approach to students—and students’ sense of their own value".

Additionally, he brings up an interesting point about teaching teams being accountable and present.

“my concern moving forward...if I have another issue like this will she decide to just blow me off again? She made this about herself and it's not about her, me, or even *Child’s name redacted for privacy*.This is about being culturally competent and trauma-sensitive. Those things cannot be achieved internally.I have concerns about professional development”

he says pertaining to the incident with his 8th grader’s experiences being dismissed and the teacher refusing to communicate and address the concerns.

While I know it can be difficult when parents and/or students question the teaching team, I have personally experienced teaching teams neglecting their students and grading students in such a manner that appears opinion and/or emotionally driven rather than academically and fact-based.

Before we continue into the discussion on Educational Leadership Transparency and Accountability, I wanted to make note that just because a professor seems firm, doesn’t automatically mean they are being neglectful.

For instance,

This semester I received a B+ in a course that I know I’m normally an A student in.

email screen shot with prof

email with prof t

Now, you’re probably wondering two things.

  1. Why are YOU taking courses in marketing?

  2. What’s so bad about a B+?

The B+ is a huge deal to me because I’d taken another type of course from this professor and earned an A. I knew how hard he encouraged his students (which is why he’s one of my favorite professors), and I knew that if I received a B+ from him, it was because he knew I was capable of better…which meant that I dropped the ball somewhere. My reaching out to the Professor wasn’t to challenge my grade; quite the opposite. This Professor not only highly respects his students, but he effectively encourages us forward. Remember earlier when I said that I like being able to take what I am learning in school today, and apply it to my career today? This Professor is the perfect example of that. As you saw in his feedback, he didn’t gaslight me, scapegoat me, or any of that. He, first, reaffirmed that I am a very capable student…a student that he also knows could do better.

The truth is, I have high-level experience in most areas of marketing and branding. Some of my largest accounts/clients are top-level luxury brands. I already knew a significant amount about sustainability, but I wanted to know more. I took courses in subjects that I already, professionally, thrived in because a major part of my operational strategy is being in a constant state of learning. Whether it be linguistically or metaphorically, things are taught and learned in different languages. You would never, ever hear the phrase “I’m an expert in” come out of my mouth. Sure, I may be highly experienced professionally, but I am always capable of learning…especially as we grow as a society. Being in classrooms with other industry specialists makes that very thing possible.

As we see from the Professor’s feedback, they were specific, communicative, and encouraging. These behaviors are the bare minimum for anyone in a leadership position. Above all, the Professor showed accountability and dedication to their students by responding in a healthy and timely manner. Based on my research and experience, too often, those in leadership positions tend to avoid the responsibility of communicating with their students about their grades; often tossing it to an assistant or someone similar…if you get a response at all. Accountability can require a delicate balance and is an ethical concept – it concerns proper behavior, and it deals with the responsibilities of individuals and organizations for their actions towards other people and agencies. At the end of the day, it is the responsibility of leadership to be accountable for their students. If a significant number of students have valid concerns, and/or did not meet the professor’s standards, it is the responsibility of that professor to reassess how they are (or are not) communicating, their rubric, the materials, and their expectations. Leadership should always check ourselves, first.

Assessing Accountability

There are 5 types of accountability that are generally recognized: organizational, political, legal, professional, and moral/ethical. Each type of accountability has its own methods of working. Organizational accountability works through the superior/subordinate relationships that define actors’ authority and responsibility; political accountability relies on democratic institutions and processes to hold actors to account. Legal accountability works through the courts and other judicial institutions to protect rights and address wrongs. Professional accountability is promulgated through codes of conduct or practice and systems of regulation designed and operated by peers. Moral or ethical accountability relies on the internalized values to which actors voluntarily adhere. Regardless of type, accountability arrangements consist of three stages. The three stages of accountability are: (i) defining accountability to whom or for what, (ii) informing the stakeholders, and (iii) judgment, which can lead to affirmation or sanctions.

Accountability of teaching teams is used synonymously with concepts of transparency, liability, answerability, and other ideas associated with the expectations of account-giving.

Achieving accountability in practice requires clear identification of and engagement with the persons who would be held accountable for their performance. Accountability relations consist of elements of deliberation or debate; this means that persons report to and are assessed by a specific person or an agency, and are required to justify their actions and their decisions to them. That element of justification involves appropriate reporting mechanisms to adequately monitor and evaluate the performance processes. (9).

Importance of Transparency in Education

Researchers found that transparent assignments enhanced students' sense of belonging, sense of mastery, confidence, graduation and retention rates, and levels of achievement (10). As we’ve learned and discussed, Transparency is being open, vulnerable, and allowing others inside your world. While certain times call for confidentiality, such as student privacy, medical issues, or security situations, teams who are kept in the loop and understand the whole picture are more likely to put their trust in their leadership; the very same goes for student - instructor environments. All of this 100% requires educational accountability.

As students and teaching teams shared with me their most traumatic experiences when dealing with a higher grading authority, the 7 pillars of accountability came to mind.

The 7 Pillars of Accountability (11)

  • Character.

  • Unity.

  • Learning.

  • Tracking.

  • Urgency.

  • Reputation.

  • Evolving.

Studies show that there is a significant number of distrust when it comes to students trusting their professors (12), and a key reason is that “Most teachers do not foster their student's curiosity and imagination so the minute they step into their classrooms,”, Says Kaley, a Ph. D candidate. She goes on to say,

“It’s very difficult to trust them when they don’t respond you your communication requests, at a minimum. They seem to think that throwing up slides and reading them off is enough to properly educate a student, and are frustrated when the student doesn’t perform as that teacher thinks they should.” A fellow peer of Kaley’s chimed in stating, “They treat the student as if they're incompetent, but they hardly bother to look at themselves. So many times I’ve struggled to get assignments returned with feedback, then they're mad when I repeat a mistake in my next paper. Maybe, just maybe if they held themselves accountable and to the same standards they hold us to…we would all get something positive and productive out of it. Not to mention, I feel like some Professors let the title go to their heads, and think much higher of themselves, which means they’re not going to change. It’s always going to be the student's fault. Ironically, students leave them reviews to tell them how to change, but they’re too busy feeding off their pride.”

There is much to be discussed and improved in educational practices. For instance, there has been an increasing number of studies that show Multiple-choice exams are both ineffective and inefficient in a student truly learning a subject (13). Additionally, in another course I took, I learned about “ Engaged Pedagogy” and its practice (14); a beautifully rightly named “transgressive” language to educate students.

So, how do you deal with an unprofessional Professor/Teaching Team?

In my opinion, this is where you, as the student, have to assess yourself first. I suggest reviewing your work with emotions put aside. If the roles were reversed, how would you grade the assignments?

Your next step would be to identify the signs of a toxic Teaching Team.

A major red flag is if the professor never involves the students. If a professor attends only to their style, and never even looks at the students—or never pauses to invite or accept questions—it's not a good thing. (15).

Additional red flags are:

  • Poor communication - A professor should always respond to you at least 48h before the next assignment is due.

  • Opinion-based questions, then negative grades based on your opinion.- If you’re asked for your opinion, you should never be penalized for your opinion simply because your teaching team doesn’t agree with your point of view. However, I strongly encourage you to base your positions on a balance of experience and factual data. The teaching team doesn’t have to like it or agree, but facts are facts, and they should know to limit their emotions when in a position of authority. ( A way to measure if you’re being graded based on facts or ego is to complete your work in a way that seemingly regurgitates your teaching team's positions( even if their opinions are not factually correct), and then complete your assignment based on data that you’ve compiled. If you only score high when you seem to be regurgitating their opinions….then you know where you stand. Unfortunately, I’ve had to use this test myself. I was devastated to realize what was happening. Also, unfortunately, I wasn’t strong enough to feed into that game to score higher (nor, ethically, should you)

  • Vague and Irrelevant Feedback.- A professor that is truly interested in your comprehension and growth will be sure to, almost always, provide you with the necessary tools to do so. Their feedback will be clear, specific, fact-based, and timely. One of my favorite things about the Professor who provided me prompt feedback about the B+ I earned, was that they always were thorough. They would highlight the pros of your assignment and specifically show you where you could have dug deeper. They would then encourage you forward, always ensuring you were on the right path. And IF you weren’t, they were sure to promptly notify you and troubleshoot with you. Any teaching team that does anything less probably doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

  • Negative reactions (rather than responses) when you don’t agree with their opinion.- More often than not, you’re not always going to agree with someone’s point of view. However, quality learning requires egos (of everyone's) to be checked at the door. Not all teaching teams that disagree with you are “out to get you”. Most often, they’re encouraging you to broaden your perspective. The issue comes in when someone in a grading authority weaponizes their perceptions and punishes those who do not align with their opinion. I’ve noticed that this happens significantly more when there is an instance of :

  • Outdated Perceptions,

  • Culturally Ignorant Perceptions,

  • Ego-driven Perceptions.

It is normal for humans to be “stuck in their ways”. Often, this behavior is masked as “traditionalism”. The person simply refuses to acknowledge social and cultural differences and changes from what they believe. This, unfortunately, can hyper-affect students in socially significant courses (16). Society may be moving in one language, but the authority figure may be resistant to accepting that reality (which would heavily impact their own reality). This is a key reason it is imperative that anyone in a grading authority is open to cultural and social data as it advances (an example of an outdated perspective may be a grading authority's refusal to accept AI advancement and relevance or even sustainable standards’ capability of completely shifting the society they’re accustomed to).

Regardless of how or why your teaching team may be being toxic, it’s your responsibility to address it properly and promptly. *Most Professional and Educational environments have a communications plan in place for these delicate situations. My suggestions are merely that, and not the official authority on how to manage such circumstances. I highly recommend you utilize handbooks provided to you, and speak to your advisor for specific guidance*

When dealing with a toxic teaching team, your first step should be to contact the department responsible for these types of academic concerns. Provide examples of the issues you've had with your professor, and consider bringing other students with you if it's an issue that affects the class. You can also reach out to the dean of students or student services.

While I know these situations are hyper-frustrating as they can easily destroy your GPA, you must remember that you want to RESPOND rather than react (click to learn more)

You can't yell and curse at your professor and then expect them to help you. To effectively confront your professor, you have to be polite. Use kind words to explain your situation and be aware of your tone of voice and body language. You can be firm, without throwing a tantrum. You want to make sure that you meet with them, or at least try to, prior to going to the academics department. Teaching Teams are humans too, and we are all capable of dropping the ball here and there. Give them the benefit of doubt and communicate your concerns directly.

In the instance that you feel you are being targeted and your grades are being used to weaponize their authority, you can:

1) File a student grade appeal (if relevant) with the academics department.

2) File a formal grievance/complaint against the professor with the college or university for wrongful conduct, retaliation, or harassment, if there is enough proof

** Your student review on courses should not be weaponized to get revenge.**

Remember, fellow students depend on peer-provided reviews of professors and teaching teams to strategically plan their educational journeys. A few of the best practices for leaving a course review consist of not completing it as soon as the course ends. Usually, you have a week post finals to complete it, so I’ve found that a good 72h wait allows for me to earnestly provide feedback, even for courses that I absolutely enjoyed. Another healthy practice is you should be clear and constructive with your feedback…just as you would want them to be with you. You cannot expect a teaching team to grow if you are vague, or too scared to be honest. In many cases, the feedback is anonymous. So if you feel the teaching team was neglectful, notate it and offer ways they could have been more attentive.

At the end of the day, there is much room for improvement in education and its leadership.

Just as Instructors want students to turn things in on time, teaching teams must be held to that same standard. Professors should hold themselves accountable for grading in a timely manner, and they should actively communicate with their students about their expectations, especially when they see a student not meeting them. It is 100% unacceptable to not follow up with students, provide grades, continuously change your syllabus, disregard students' need for clarity surrounding assignments, etc. If you find that students are consistently failing to meet your standards and are leaving reviews that say your courses are “disorganized” and/or “unclear”, it is 100% unethical for you to disregard that feedback and not address your own areas that need improvement. It’s important that teaching teams comprehend that the success of their students, often, reveals the quality of their teachings. If a significant amount of students leave your course frustrated and no better off than where they started (and you didn’t do all you can/should to encourage growth), then you have equally failed as an educator and should revisit your Materials, Communication Skills & Plan, Rubrics, etc.

Leaders thrive when, and only when, they LEAD.

Returning to my core.

During my processing of it all...two things resurfaced.

1) I take grades far too personally. They're, more often than not, simply an indication of the grading authority's perceptions. And, hardly a true indication of your true value.

2) I have an extremely low tolerance for people who can't and won't just say what they want. I don't comprehend tip-toeing or any of that. I do not tolerate, nor subscribe to toxic stemming. Tell me, honestly, what you want. Then, I will tell you if I can accommodate you or not. You will have to accept whatever the reality is because my boundaries are non-negotiable.

3) Most people will avoid the responsibility of stating their wants so they:

a) Have a scapegoat when they're disappointed

b) (in their minds) Have less risk of being disappointed

This behavior is 100% manipulative, and, unfortunately, "normal".

A friend asked me how I cope with disappointment, stating that I seem hyper-grounded in my emotions. I laughed and told them that I, too, have my grrrrrr moments when I am ready to snap. However, I work well at self-regulation because most things are not worth the cost to my health or peace; it's not an exact science and sometimes you just have to sit on the floor and pout. However, for the most part, I do my best to not weaponize my perception, nor go into situations with unclearly communicated intentions. I can't stand ulterior motives. I pick up on them super well, and 100% reject them and the behavior around them. If I want it, I say so. Period. In the case of not getting what I want, I remind myself that I wasn't a coward or manipulative and that I did my best. Not everything we want will happen exactly as we want. Additionally, we may only comprehend the surface of what we want, and it's 100% necessary to get to the core.

For Example:

I thought: I wanted a grade that would be impressive.

At the core: I want to reach my Ph D, which meant that a grade lower than an A, once a blue moon, is not going to kill me. Thus, not worth an emotional reaction.

Instead, my decision is to respond. I reach out to professors requesting clarification of the grade, with the understanding that they may be unwilling to provide that "closure" is the healthiest thing I could do. I also always try to self-evaluate. I like to go back and review all my work (no matter how well I did), note areas where I could improve, applaud myself for the areas I excelled, and allocate more time for the potential of random projects so that I may strive for an improvement (if necessary/possible) moving forward.

I also learned to give myself grace.

Not only was I dismissing the fact that I am very, very lucky to even be alive and able to be in school. I was being unnecessarily hard on myself because my career had been built on these industries, and to receive less than 100% (in my mind) meant that I was failing. My own fantasies also played a role in my disappointment.

You see, I had a self-built perception of what my Harvard experience was going to be like, and was disappointed when things weren’t exactly as I hoped. But Harvard never once promised to fulfill MY fantasy. I just knew that every professor was going to be these all-knowing sources of unrealistic of me. In one of my classes, there was extremely poor communication that created several issues 100% out of my control. The thing is...that happens because the teaching teams are humans...humans just human,[ lol]. My sole job is to put my best effort forward and consistently improve. Not every professor is going to speak the same language...nor will they like the language I speak. I had to remind myself that these are mere moments in a grand novel. So, I put down my perceptions and expectations (reasonably), took what framework was offered and in alignment with myself and goals, and made it work. I do this in all other areas of my life and finally have reached completion with this part.

Extremely few people comprehend my world and what I do in 24h. Even fewer people bother to account for unnecessary disruptions that I have to preemptively account for within my strategic framework. A major part of my maturing was becoming comfortable with not doing things just because someone else had sole-self-serving expectations. I build out a reasonable framework, and it's the other person's choice whether they want to work within that framework. Most importantly, I build the world around me, rather than me around the world..... which is why I LOVE my degree program.

Making the conscious effort and choice in how my education will fit into my ecosystem, rather than fitting my ecosystem into my education had been a MAJOR asset in my healing and thriving...and that is why I didn't 100% freak out at a B+.

I’m firm on my boundaries and my responsibilities. IF I deserve better, I speak up and fight for it. IF I get the grade I deserve and I can improve, I take the feedback and grow through it. At the end of the day, I get what I want because I have the guts to speak up, and the discipline to work at it. A B+ was disappointing today, but it put me in a position to level with a peer's teenager, who is having a hard time with feeling value within because high school is freaking nuts. We troubleshot what was causing their lower grades, and created a realistic POA. To continue with being transparent, it was nice to be reminded how I was so scared about where my life was going at their age (because of my traumatic past), and to look around me, today, knowing that I 100%+ thrived forward. It was like the universe was gently reminding me, "Darling, you got this, Unapologetically."

I am here to tell YOU,

Darling, You got this!

To those who have been contacting me over the past week ( and anyone else out there feeling educationally frustrated), if you know you’re doing the BEST you can…try not to obsess over less impressive moments. If you KNOW that someone in a grading authority is being abusive, you're only option is to address it and #AdjustAccordingly.

DO NOT berate yourself into a state of depression over something that may not actually have anything to do with you. I know, I get it…but you have much bigger walls to climb. Do what you need to do to thrive forward, and don’t look back.

Consider this, I had a class that was…well, disappointing doesn't even begin to express it. There were these Grownups that I met in the course that reiterated what I already knew, but it felt amazing to have that level of support and understanding. They, too, were beyond frustrated with that particular course, but they, too, were proof that not all things need to reach your place of peace.

While mediocrity is not a language that we speakpeace is our priority.





















  1. What is (TiLT) - Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TiLT), is a set of teaching strategies that focuses on making transparent to students how and why they are learning and engaging with course content in particular ways.

  2. What to do if I feel mistreated by the teaching team? - Always try to, respectfully, communicate with them first. If that doesn’t work, I suggest referring to your school-provided handbook and following those guidelines. If they’re unclear to you, you can always reach out to your academic advisor and/or Dean.

  3. Is there a way to make them correct my grade? - In many instances, I’ll be honest, it’s unlikely. In much of your experience, your professors will not be aiming to harm you, they just want to encourage you. However, that does not mean that you should accept clear abuse. If you have proof of the abuse, report it promptly.

  4. What if my Professor just doesn’t like me? - You're not there for them to “like you”. If they're having an ego trip, that’s their business. You adjust accordingly and focus on learning everything you can from the course. You’re not there that long.

  5. What is Engaged Pedagogy? - Engaged pedagogy establishes a mutual relationship between teacher and students that nurtures the growth of both parties, creating an atmosphere of trust and commitment that is always present when genuine learning happens. Check out Bell Hooks (the author). If you’d rather talk to an experienced Professor, Dr. Shallbell Is a GREAT person to speak to about it.(street dancing activism) .Also, LRod, Latinx Dancing. Both of these educators are Harvard professors and you can find them on social media

  6. How do I make my Professor accountable?- Simply put, you can’t! That’s not your responsibility. The only person you are responsible for is YOU. Mind your efforts and adjust accordingly.

  7. What if I don’t have an Educational Support System? - Welp, you do now! Reach out Via Linkedin. Also, don’t be afraid to speak to your academic advisors and your other professors. I didn’t have one when I first started, but I spoke up about my needs, and the community sort of built around my willingness to communicate and connect.

  8. How do I heal from Educational Trauma?

  • Got to therapy. Yes, a professional

  • Have the willingness to grow through your trauma

  • Acknowledge where you are both making the effort, and could improve.

  • Be committed to your growth and peace.

  • #AdjustAccordingly.


If you found this helpful, feel free to read others.

** If you feel unsafe, please contact your local authorities. Additionally, reach out if you need community support. You’re not alone **

You Might be interested in:

About the Author:

Paradise Rodriguez-Bordeaux

🌎Global Business Strategist: Building Your Business To Sustainable Profits

🌟 Philanthropist | Empowerment Mentor

A Paradise Company / Paradise Rodriguez-Bordeaux Inc.

best-selling author, entrepreneur, and thought leader.

   Paradise Rodríguez-Bordeaux, the 2022 Human Rights Activist and the 2023 Innovative Leadership awards recipient, says,   

 "Sustainability is the bare minimum." 

    As an author, mentor, and mental health advocate, she is a passionate advocate for those who have faced adversity and discrimination in life. She has been a philanthropist for more than 15 years, giving back to her community by supporting organizations that provide solutions for poverty alleviation and social justice.  Her work as an innovator in business solutions led to the founding of...  Learn More

"We need to consistently produce effectively efficient solutions. 

This world, the communities, it's all of our responsibility. 

   Leaders HAVE to lead."


About A Paradise Company Inc.

A Paradise Company™ is leading the way with intentionally innovative missions, centering women in business. With our commitment to equality, trust, and respect, A Paradise Company™ helps to create a more sustainable future for all. The core mission is to establish intentionally innovative businesses that promote people, purpose, and progress; That's the Paradise Promise!

a paradise company logo



Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page