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Student/Faculty Relationships at Harvard-Westlake

By Aidan  ’24

At HW, you have ample opportunities to spend time with your teachers outside of class, whether in matters related to class or not.

For starters, you can visit a teacher basically anytime they aren’t teaching a class or in a meeting. Each department has its own office with all that department’s teachers, and you can stop by to ask a quick question about the homework or just say hi. This means there are more opportunities for random encounters; I’m reasonably good friends with a history teacher that I’ve never had a class with that I see exclusively when bumping into him in the library or on the Quad. The grouping by department also means that you’re likely to bump into teachers you had in previous years, which you may not be able to do otherwise. Yesterday I saw my history teacher last year in the history office while looking for my teacher this year.

You are also encouraged (but never forced) to meet a fair amount with your teachers, which is great. It’s common for people to meet with their English teachers after an essay, their math teacher before or after a test, or just talk about a mutual passion anytime. This is seen as an aspect of their job, so they are extremely willing to make space for you outside of class. It is also not uncommon for teachers to talk to students about various interests during class. For example, my math teacher last year (who also studied philosophy) recommended a novel to everyone during a class, so I took him up on his offer and really enjoyed it. My English teacher last year hosted a book club for anybody who wanted to read Nineteen Eighty-Four over spring break (a book that they did not teach, but some other teachers taught). My computer science teacher plays board games every lunch period with whoever stops by his classroom. The list goes on.

Also, we have many clubs on campus, and each club needs a faculty/staff cosponsor who agrees to attend club meetings. The teachers tend to sway towards clubs that they have personal interest in, creating another venue for students to form bonds with teachers outside of class. Some are related to the classes they teach—my Spanish teacher last year is involved in a Latin-American book club—and some are definitely not—a teacher in the performing arts department is involved in a club organizing fishing field trips.

Teachers are not just teachers here at HW; they are people and, beyond that, friends.

 

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Last modified: November 7, 2022