High school is often like visiting another planet that is filled with alien beings, also known as teachers. However, everyone’s time at Planet High School is memorable, and many of those memories are of the teachers. Some of those teachers are another brick in the wall as Pink Floyd once said; while others are an inspiration to everyone.
There are several different types of high school teachers. Let’s explore 13 different types of teachers in high school and their fictional television or movie counterparts. See if you can recognize any of your teachers on this list and the impact they had on your life.
Washed Up College Professor
Only about one in five college professors are offered a tenure track position. What is a person to do if they can no longer work in higher ed? The answer is to teach at a local high school and take out their career frustrations on their unwitting students.
Jack Griffin from the television show, AP Bio, is the epitome of this type of teacher. They are not really interested in teaching, but they need a paycheck and know that high schools like having PhDs on their faculty – it really impresses the helicopter parents. These teachers are always featured on the website; however, you rarely see them at school functions.
Some people had their best life in high school and never wanted to leave. School often represented a safe environment for them. Additionally, they often had a deep connection with one or more of their teachers. Many of these students choose to return to their alma mater and teach to keep their dream alive.
These types of teachers think they can relate to the students because they have literally walked in their shoes. Mr. Kotter, from Welcome Back Kotter, is a great example of this type of teacher. In some cases, these teachers wash out. However, like Mr. Kotter, many of these teachers end up giving more back to their school than they gained as a student.
The Former Star
This one can come in many shapes including the former actor, former musician, or former athlete. These teachers were once famous but found themselves without a career to fall back on. Initially, they may seem like the “washed-up professor”. However, after a few years, they usually hit their stride.
They are passionate about their craft and excited to share it with future generations. Think Steve Harvey from his original self-titled show where he played a former musician turned teacher. The real-world experience these teachers bring to their campus is a huge boon for their students.
On the field or off, this teacher wants to be called “coach”. This teacher will almost always be in shorts and have a whistle around their neck. Ironically, this is not typically your PE teacher but someone who will teach you a core subject like Social Studies. They were primarily hired to coach a specific sport, but with budgets tight and class sizes increasing they are also assigned a slate of classes to teach.
They really don’t care about teaching and will most likely assign you a lot of reading and worksheets, so they can prep for the upcoming games. George Cooper on Young Sheldon is a good example of this type of teacher.
This teacher defends the downtrodden or students without a voice. Their classroom is covered in posters supporting underrepresented minority groups. It is a safe space for students and families. They often are at odds with the administration and are not afraid to stand up against policies they view as unfair. Mr. Katimski from My So-Called Life was an ally for students and helped guide them through their tumultuous teenage years. Everyone should have a Mr. Katimski in their school life.
The Chill Teacher
If you didn’t know better, you would think this teacher eats edibles for breakfast and lunch. The chill teacher goes with the flow. They rarely assign homework. They rely on group projects, less to grade, and show a lot of movies. Teaching is not a passion for them, it’s a paycheck.
It would be like having Dewey Finn, from School of Rock, as your teacher. If D’s get diplomas is your motto, you will love this type of teacher. However, if you are planning on going to college, you will need to teach yourself outside of class the material because you won’t learn much in this class.
The Future Administrator
This teacher wants to be an administrator. They are on a mission to show everyone they are worthy of the promotion. This type of teacher will follow all of the rules. Be sure to arrive on time or expect a tardy slip. Don’t even think about taking your phone out or it will be in “phone jail”. On the plus side, student grades are as important to the teacher as the student, because a high fail rate looks bad for the future administrator.
This teacher will make accommodations to help more students pass their class. Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World shows the full evolution of this type of teacher. Unlike your typical teacher that you have for one class, you may end up crossing paths with this teacher in the near future as your administrator. It is a good idea to stay on their good side and just go with the flow in their classroom.
The Teach For America (TFA) Teacher – AKA The Idealist
This is a young, idealistic teacher who was not originally trained as a teacher. Classroom management is often a challenge for these teachers for several reasons. First, these teachers are usually just a few years older than their high school students. Additionally, before beginning their first teaching job, they only receive a few months of training.
They are new to the area, so they have little experience understanding the communities where they work. Abbott Elementary alludes to the fact that a few of its teachers are TFA alumni. Teach For America recruits recent college graduates to teach for two years in low-income schools in exchange for some student loan relief. It’s a noble program, but the outcomes are not always as noble.
Nepotism runs rampant in many schools. It is not uncommon for spouses, siblings, or even adult children, to teach at the same school. The relatives often share information about students. If you have an issue with one, you probably have an issue with the other. On the plus side, if you have a good relationship with one relative, it can often carry over to the other one.
On Friday Night Lights, Tami and Eric Taylor work at the same school and at times this is a huge benefit for the students they share and other times, it is a huge disadvantage.
The Personal Drama Queen/King
We all have problems in our life. However, the personal drama teacher brings their problems to school with them each day. The class often turns into a therapy session for the teacher. Students know a lot about the teacher’s personal life and often weigh in on it.
Unfortunately, this means students miss a lot of education. Boston Public’s Marla Hendricks is an extreme example of a teacher oversharing. However, because she wears her emotions on her sleeve, students often confide in her and she shows empathy to them in return.
This teacher is out to change the trajectory of your life. They will inspire you to work harder. They will push boundaries and have you doing things you never imagined possible. You are extremely lucky if you have a teacher like this in your high school career. There have been many movies made about teachers like this. If you don’t have a motivator at your school, consider watching one of these movies to help motivate yourself: Freedom Writers, Lean on Me, or Dead Poets Society.
Glad-handing and kissing babies from day one, this teacher agrees with everyone. They have broad smiles and likeable personalities and remind you of Mr. Belding from Saved By the Bell. Like a politician, this teacher type will side with popular opinions and agree with whoever is in front of them. The politician loves to be a people-pleaser.
If you need an extension – just ask, they will likely say “yes”. However, they could flip-flop on you. This teacher will poll the class to find out what they want to read or what movie they want to watch. Remember, they like to say yes, so always approach this teacher with a solution to any challenge. Remember, they want to say YES!
Not all outlaw teachers are as extreme as Mr. White from Breaking Bad. However, almost every school has a teacher skirting the rules or even the law. It could be as minor as getting supplies “off the back of a truck.” Other times, it may be a teacher looking the other way when students are breaking rules or even the law.