A Fine Line: Analyzing Student-Teacher Relationships at Latin

Will Slater Students new to Latin are often surprised by the way in which students and teachers interact. We are casual in our conversations with faculty, at times speaking with a tone similar to that of friends. Is this really appropriate though, or is there a point where we become disrespectful, or when it genuinely hurts the school?   Lauren Salzman, a sophomore, claims that the intimacy is vital, and that  “the only reason students are less proper with their teachers is that they feel comfortable.” When posed this way, the answer to the question of respect in the classroom seems quite simple. Students should feel at ease and willing to share whatever they please. It’s hard to learn in a rigid and strict environment in which one doesn’t have the ability to speak honestly with a teacher. Students and teachers should be equals and treat each other as such. Another sophomore, Simon Stephanos, comes to a similar conclusion as Salzman. Stephanos recognizes that students, at times, are disrespectful, but understands that “with Latin as free and open as it is, you have to deal with the backlash and negative attitudes.” In essence, it’s a given that rude or disrespectful interactions are the byproduct of a progressive and productive school. Mr. Lombardo, for example, is different from many teachers in that he lets students call him Billy. For him, it is a matter of comfort, but in turn it creates a less rigid atmosphere. Though students sometimes cross a line, Mr. Lombardo “kind of likes that we aren’t bound by rigid formalities here.” But, seniors Alex Arkin, Griffin Pollard and Noah Weeks-Brittan see it slightly differently than Mr. Lombardo and their younger peers. Pollard and Weeks-Brittan both think relaxed, friend-like interactions between students and teachers are important to Latin’s identity as a school. That said, Pollard knows that there are “definitely students that [he] can think of that are very much too casual and disrespectful.” Perhaps, Pollard points out, “sometimes teachers become too casual”  in their support and willingness to engage casually with students. Weeks-Brittan agrees, but, like Pollard acknowledges that this informal behavior is usually “not a big cause for concern.” Senior Alex Arkin, however, lies on the other end of the spectrum. “Student-teacher relationships should be strictly professional” said Arkin. He understands that our school “prides itself on having strong relationships with students and teachers,” but has major concerns. Far too often these connections grow too close for Arkin’s comfort. It seems that for purely educational purposes, a casual and friendly relationship between students and teachers is beneficial.  That said, we cannot be careless and fail to recognize the fine line that Latin students frequently walk.  In the words of Billy Lombardo, “for the most part, we operate here much like the rest of the world operates. We should all respect each other.”]]>