Students are people too.

There are different types of teachers. There are the ones who become all of their students’ best friend, who ignore the teacher/student boundaries. They connect with individuals and help them through their difficult times. Then there are the teachers who don’t want to connect on that level. Teaching history or math or English or science, doesn’t require it. Others are simply uncomfortable with getting that close, they don’t want to know that much information.

I sit somewhere in the middle. I have no real desire to be the teacher that becomes friends with my students and some times too much information, is just that, too much information. I believe there is a line. However, I am not indifferent to their personal stories. Over the years I have helped students deal with the death of parents and friends, divorce, and drug use. Like the rest of us, students deal with their stress in different ways. One year, one of my student’s father passed unexpectedly. When she returned, two days later, she told me about it outside the classroom and when class started she took on a lead role in a simulation. She didn’t even miss a step. People cope in different ways; I’ve also seen deep depression and anger when dealing with these life-altering situations.

Regardless of how these students reacted, I have always been sympathetic. These kids need to take care of themselves and their families. In the end, my world history class is not a top priority when a student’s life is falling apart around them. It is not that I excuse these students from tests, assignment, etc. I just work with them – spreading out due dates, extending deadlines, or allow them to take the test at a later time.

I’m sure some might think this is coddling, out in the real world they won’t have these opportunities. Well, yes they will, because they will have co-workers, friends, and family. They will have sick days and vacations. Plus if we can teach them now to deal with this issues in a healthy manner through advice and modeling, then maybe that will help them in the long run.

If you haven’t already noticed, I am a bit of a softie. I’m OK with that, I still have high expectations and not fulfilling them will result in negative consequences, but I always remember that students are people too.

4 thoughts on “Students are people too.”

  1. Wow, great blog. I’ve been thinking about joining the college ranks once again to major in history and eventually become a history teacher. Just one question…is it worthit?

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  2. Wow, what a great find! I’m a first year college student looking for a career in teaching. I actually want to be an art teacher, but I have been advised with overwhelming agreement that I should pick up another subject. Art isn’t really taken seriously these days. I would love to have a conversation about teaching History with you via email!

    magdelenrose@hotmail.com

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  3. I teach Math and Physics at high school level.

    Looking back, I guess I can say that I am the kind of teacher who wants to befriend my students. However, I also wish to draw a certain line – as long as we are in school, I am your teacher, and you are my student.

    From my past experience, when that student-teacher line gets blurred, classroom management problems arise. You are taken for granted, students think you have to be soft on them because you are their ‘buddy’. In short, too much familiarity breeds contempt.
    I am trying to learn from some of the more experienced teachers in my school , who can both command respect and yet be on very good terms with the students.

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  4. Teaching can be worth it, but at a huge economic cost. I need to quit teaching simply to be able to afford a home. I had worked in management for 10 years before becoming a History teacher. I did it. Went back to school for the credential, quit my career of ten years, started teaching only to find it is simply not doable for one in his late 30’s hitting 40. Now I have given up a position. The rewards of teaching have been enjoyable. I love it. I wish I could afford to continue to teach. I believe, for those looking teaching as a career choice, it is best done straight out of college, when you can afford to live on meager pay.

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