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  • Have you ever known someone who seemed like a crazy caricature of humanity? Chances are, then, that you’ve probably known a teacher. Teaching is a little bit of everything. To be successful, you have to be a good office manager, a solid administrator, a phenomenal customer service rep, a counselor, a coach, and an instructor, all rolled into one.

    The most fun part of the job for me, though, is developing a classroom persona. Teachers come in all flavors of personality and the ones that high schoolers connect with the best are able to weave a natural friendliness seamlessly into their authority role. That looks a little bit different for everyone but I can recall several approaches that my high school instructors used that I’ve attempted to emulate in the classroom. Because it’s fun to make your kids think you’re crazy.

    Without further adieu, here are five kinds of high school teachers worth aspiring to be:


    1) The Ironically Aloof

    I had this awesome history teacher named Mr. Rogers. (His full name is Roger Rogers—but it’s not his fault.) Everybody loved him because he stood outside the game of life as a bemused commentator. Education is rife with political nonsense and systemic lunacy, but if you can play along, documenting this and administrating that, knowing that most of it is kind of a joke, you can coast above the mess without getting sucked into it emotionally.

    An occasional eye roll at bureaucracy is good for the soul.

    Mr. Rogers would alternate a more serious, down-to-business tone with an attitude of ironic indifference. It communicated that the work we were doing was important but that it’s also important to be lighthearted.

    The best part about running a class that way is that you get to inspire your students to do their jobs well without taking life too seriously. You model service to the bigger picture with a recognition that it’s okay to see imperfect systems for what they are. For further study, see Richard Dean Anderson’s performance as Jack O’Neil on Stargate SG-1. Best show of all time.

    2) The Bill Nye the Science Guy

    Okay, so Bill Nye wasn’t one of my high school teachers. But I feel like he was. All those videos they showed us, man. So many Bill Nye videos.

    This persona takes intellectual insight on a subject and infuses it with passion. Think about a matter-of-fact presentation but bolster it with totally uninhibited excitement and zaniness. Your kids will really think you’ve gone off the deep end but they’ll remember everything you say. Especially if you walk really close to the ones who aren’t paying attention and repeat it over and over and over again, sealing the deal with a maniacal laugh.

    Better still if you can safely and discriminately light something on fire in your classroom.

    Probably best performed in small doses and never at parent conferences or professional development sessions. It tends to make grownups nervous. For further study, refer to Bill Nye the Science Guy in Bill Nye the Science Guy.