Build a Teacher


Kaia Minkin, Reporter

With the John Burroughs student community as my sample space and several interviews with my high school colleagues providing strong-willed testament to the importance of  teacher-student relationships, this article was written with the opinion of the student body as its driving force. As a disclaimer, I chose to exclude specific names of teachers because I would find myself listing name after name, as I, and the vast majority of other JBS students, were beautifully influenced by far more than one teacher during our academic career. I asked students to describe their ideal teacher and academic environment, and with the diverse opinions I received, I created the Five Staple Personalities of teachers that students will never forget.

The collected responses from students in 9-12th grade were categorized into the following fundamental personas;

  1. “Tough Love”: The “Tough Love” teachers are easily distinguishable within the Burroughs community.  Having this teacher will probably require thicker skin, because with their concern for your education comes a dose of sarcastic comments and the potential for being the target of their jokes. This teacher is tenacious, deeply involved with what they teach, and expects you live up to their high expectations. Remember, a certain Canadian history teacher will only incorporate insults about you in her class note slideshows out of love.
  2. “The Team Member”: This category of teacher is treasured by their students. This teacher does not act superior to their class nor stand on a podium of omnipotence and talk at students for 42 minutes a day; this teacher is instead a part of the machine that is composed of student insight and evolves with the growth of the class. Characterized by an open-mind, this type of teacher provides knowledge and skills that augment a student’s personal identity, never restricting academic growth to their own beliefs and opinions.
  3. “The Mentor”: Not only is this teacher important in the classroom, but is also crucial in navigating the bumpy, and sometimes painful terrain that is the Burroughs curriculum. This teacher makes an effort to meet with you outside of class, have conversations with you about non-school related matters, and cultivate relationships with individual students. “The Mentor” is basically the North Star of teachers; as a student, you are guided indefinitely by their knowledge and genuine care for you as not just another pupil, but a person.
  4. “The Second Mom”: This teacher is so easily recognizable through their passion for teaching and love for their students. As the type of teacher with the biggest heart, they are understanding of students’ lives and exterior stressors, far beyond what occurs within the walls of John Burroughs. If you are greeted with, “Good morning, lovebug,” when you walk into their classroom, you have found your caring, in-school Mom who can also teach you algebra.
  5. “The Comedian”: Another pillar of the Five Staple Personalities of teachers is the jokester, their crucial personality trait being their own confidence in their routine. This teacher will 100% consider themselves the up-and-coming Eddie Murphy and laugh at their own jokes. This freedom to laugh in class is highly important, as the occasional comedic break in the middle of coding an extensive logic chain for a Tic-Tac-Toe app is refreshing and relieves at least some stress in the classroom atmosphere.

According to the consensus of the JBS student body, the perfect teacher is one that treats them with respect, loves and guides them, and can make them laugh even in a Monday first period class. As a student who highly prioritizes student-teacher relationships myself, I know that having that second mom in your class, or that sarcastic teacher is unequivocally the backbone of the John Burroughs School experience and the key to surviving your classes.