Return to blog

Rules for being a cool teacher

A blog post image

My personal favourite is Mr. Bergstrom from classic Simpsons episode ‘Lisa’s Substitute’. He inspires Lisa with his guitar, cowboy roleplay and boyish good looks, and leaves her heartbroken when he moves on.

With all this in mind, we’ve been looking back at our favourite ‘cool teachers’ from our own school days and have come up with some instructions for living up to the role.

Don’t be afraid to deploy Morrissey

John Davies, blog editor: "My sixth form English teacher, who looked like Phil Jupitus, once set us a task of guessing the Shakespeare character from the lyrics of 80s indie classics ('Heaven knows I'm miserable now = Hamlet). Pretty cool."

Go 'method' with your acting

Jon Anderson, general manager: "My English teacher got my all boys school through Romeo and Juliet by training us in theatrical fighting and staging all of the fights from the play. He was also a brilliant narrator who wouldn't put up with dull readings from any of us, we had to do voices."

Go even more 'method' with your acting

Ewa Jozefkowicz, marketing manager: "I had a history teacher who rode a motorbike and wore feather boas to every lesson. She also started every new subject with a 'feast' in the theme of the historical period we were studying. So we would have Tudor feasts, dressed up in Tudor attire and dining on pheasant (chicken drumsticks from Asda) and fine wine (Ribena).

We also had a great English teacher who made us watch The Dead Poets Society. We called him 'Captain, my captain' and stood on our desks to salute him when he left."

Let the pupils mock you … for charity

Emma Temperley, regional business development manager: "Our head (and chemistry teacher) let us dress up as him for a charity day. We all had fake moustaches, dodgy side partings, carried a coffee mug like it was super-glued to us and had incredibly bright ties and socks. We also mimicked his Essex accent all day. Pretty cool for a head to let you get away with that. All for a good cause though!

He was such a good head, looked and sounded a bit like a used car salesman but he was great! He knew everyone by name and always made an effort to be out and about (with said coffee cup, bright socks and tie) every break and lunch to say hello."

Be a bit of a Del Boy, but prepare for consequences

Ed Castle, member support officer: "My PE teacher used to sell sports gear out the back of his Subaru Sport. Started a book too. Think he was reprimanded shortly after …"

Get some 007 wheels

Joshua Desbottes, marketing executive: "Our year 9 English teacher used to rock up in her Aston Martin, had an Irish accent that sounded like liquid Pogues, and once inadvertently ended up with a well-known pornography website on the smart-board for all to see. Her reaction was to start crying with laughter, and explain that such things didn't enter the curriculum until A-Level."

Use your pupils’ hidden 'talents'

Amy Doman, member support team leader: "When our head of PE found out I could do cricket scoring, he used to get me to do all of the school and county cricket scoring, which meant me getting out of class!"


Do you have memories of cool teachers from your school days? Let us know in the comments below!

Sign up for our news briefing

The Key's weekly education sector round-up, delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Get weekly news briefing