Being somewhat aloof with students

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, Sep 3, 2014.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    A few of the problems I had last year resulted from me being too friendly with students. A few of them got the notion that I was a pal rather than a teacher and that made it clear to me that I really have to make the distinction clear and stop any attempts to "friend-zone" me (in a good way).

    So this year, I find myself being a lot more aloof with students. I think this is creating quite a bit more respect, and I'm able to maintain the respect and kindness I treat students with.

    Last year, I was the jovial teacher who could relate to the interests of students (video games and anime), and this year I find myself simply keeping my mouth shut if someone has a t-shirt of an anime (cartoon) that I liked. I try to keep my responses to their call-outs during lunch time a lot more muted and attempt to walk a bit more teacher-like (or walking with a straight back and leisurely gait).

    Like I said, I'm definitely noticing a difference in the way students treat me, but I also don't want to be so aloof that students can't approach me. Last year I had students hanging out in my classroom at lunch almost daily (which brought its own problems), and this year I have none (which is nice in a way because I can actually eat).

    My question is, is this something you'd recommend? Do you go all out with students or do you keep a good distance?
     
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  3. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Like just about everything, I think you need to find a balance. I want kids to trust me and enjoy my class, but I also need them to know we are not friends. If I had to choose between the two, I'd choose respect and a distant relationship over being friendly.

    But yeah, it all comes down to balance. You'll find a happy medium :)
     
  4. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I am not sure is aloof is the word you really mean to use...I certainly would not want to be aloof as a 4th grade teacher.
     
  5. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Bleh. *dictionaried it* You're right. Let's make that "distant"? I don't really know how else to put it.
     
  6. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    You're maintaining a professional separation.

    And yes, I absolutely think that is the thing to do. Look at it this way-you want students to respect you and frankly, to like you. They do, while you are still being that adult figure. By being more friend-like, you're opening yourself up to being treated how they treat each other. That's not what you want-that's not respect as a professional. It might feel good at the time to have a student Hugh give you and want to hang out, but what is it gaining in the long run?
     
  7. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Hugh give? I meant high five!
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    "Professional reserve" is what you're aiming for, Peregrin, I think.

    Which does not necessarily exclude commenting on the nifty anime shirt - but there are ways to do that without impairing one's professional reserve.
     
  9. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    I'm reserved with my students, although I do try to share some of my personal life with them- like I will talk about my pets or places I've been to. But even when I bring up my husband- which some of my students have met since he'll come to school to help me with things or come to events- it makes me feel really strange for some reason. (Like it's wrong for me to have a husband as a teacher ;) )

    I try to stick to a middle road- share a bit, but not too much. Students will ask to be Facebook friends and will out right tell them no I'm not your friend, I'm you're teacher, which some don't really get.

    We have a 1st grade teacher who constantly calls her students "My friends..." to get their attention and it drives me crazy that she uses "friends".
     
  10. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I am usually not reserved with my students, but courtesy of my being the age of their parents, I am more motherly than friendly. It still has a professional distance, but they are already very aware that they can come to me with their problems. This is something that probably comes with time and experience, and I think I have at least a decade on you, Peregrin.

    As long as you still have some warmth and find your space without freezing out your students, you are on the right path.
     
  11. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I am somewhat reserved with my students, but I do end up becoming very close to some of them.

    A few years ago I had a group of kids who ate lunch in my room, but it was awesome, and caused no problems. They wanted a quiet place to sit and visit and eat, and respected that I wanted a quiet place to sit and eat and relax. We would joke around and cut up sometimes, but it never got out of control.

    This year I have a few who don't seem to take clues about when it is ok for them to be in my classroom, like I'll be running around crazy, or furiously grading something, and they'll want to come in 45 minutes early in the morning and visit while I'm trying to get work done. I just need some quiet time in my room. I'm going to have to set some more clear boundaries with these kids, for sure.
     
  12. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I think you need to find a good balance. Share some things, but not too much. There are going to be students who you are naturally closer to than others, even though we aren't supposed to have 'favorites'. When I taught high school, there were students who would come in my room to work on homework in the morning and we would talk as they worked. I sat at the table with them to answer any questions. Those students knew more about me than students who didn't come to my room. It was also a very small high school so everyone pretty much knew what was going on with everyone else.
     
  13. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I think it's interesting that you mentioned posture. I think body language is so interesting and important. I heard an interview with Helen Mirren who quoted her acting coach as saying: "It all begins with the spine." It seems like a tiny detail, but it's true that your posture affects your presence in the classroom and out, and sends an unspoken message before you ever say a word. Standing tall and proud is the first step in having "teacher presence."
     
  14. TamaraF

    TamaraF Companion

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    I'm just saying what everyone else said...it's all about balance. I think I have a really strong relationship with quite a few of my students, but they also know when I need to be "Teacher" mode. Remember, our job is not be their buddies, it is to be their guide.
     
  15. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I'm "all out" and do not have issues with respect.

    I hated middle school every day as a student and I'll do anything I can do help even one student avoid that feeling.
     
  16. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I'm not very reserved. My kids know a lot about me. We chat sports a lot. I'm a Cleveland fan surrounded by Bengals' fans, so we have fun with it. I bring my boyfriend to school events and answer reasonable questions if they ask. They know I'm a huge Harry Potter nerd so I use references from time to time. I try hard to get to know them so I can understand them. One student is in the middle of a lot of fights from his divorced parents. Knowing that helps me understand his mood.

    I don't over share by any means but they do know a bit about me :) It's a small town. It was going to happen anyways :lol: I don't really have problems with respect. Once in a blue moon a kid will get a little mouthy, but I expect that. Our kids are generally very well-behaved, but I think connecting to them helps. Especially with those who don't have good role models.
     
  17. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I think the problem arises because I'm the youngest teacher in the school and I just look very young. If I treat them too friendly, it's not a huge cognitive leap for them to start acting like I'm a friend.

    So I really have to play the adult a lot more than an older or more mature looking teacher would.
     
  18. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I think one can play the adult and still show interest in their students, who they are, what they like to do. You can still share interests...etc and be the adult, imo.
     
  19. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I agree. I'll be 25 this upcoming week so I'm still young. I didn't have any problems when I was even younger either though.
     
  20. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I still talk to them about certain things but I have to cut back on it quite a bit. Some of my previous students from last year returned yesterday and it was basically a whirlwind like they never left. They came in, were overly familiar, even went through my stuff and ate it.

    It's nice that it's not a problem for you guys, but it's something I have to fix.
     
  21. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I am very clear that anything on or in my desk is off limits. It's a pain sometimes like I'm across the room helping someone else and they need white out, but I make sure to walk back and hand it to them. Otherwise they think they can take it again. I had that problem my first year, but not since being harsher about it. They know where my candy is and they also know if they eat any without my permission, they'll be getting demerits at the least.

    You can definitely set boundaries without becoming stand offish or aloof. It may just take some tweaking of your expectations.
     
  22. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    The thing is that I need to be somewhat more standoffish for them to take me seriously, otherwise they don't. It's harder for me to flip a switch and enter "teacher" mode and give consequences at the level of familiarity I had with students last year. It would have been at the cost of losing a lot of that positive relationship with the student, and it would be one that would be very hard to regain. Even if they truly like you, if they start thinking that you are a friend and you don't end it quickly, they can end up very hurt when you pull the rug out from underneath them.

    This year, I am reducing that relationship just a bit, and I'm still noticing that students like me, but now it's a much more respectful like, and it's much easier to set those boundaries.

    I'm much more careful this year that I don't get too friendly and familiar with students and keeping that professional distance while maintaining my ability to build good teacher-student relationships.
     
  23. bewlove

    bewlove Companion

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    I am a fourth grade teacher and I agree it's all about finding a balance.

    I love each of my kids--I really do! I don't know if they know that. I try not to be all friendship-y throughout the day, but rather and reassure them of my caring through the little things, like my morning message. In my written morning message the other day, I simply added, "Have I told you all how glad I am that you're in my class this year? I love you and am grateful for you!"

    That way, I can reassure them that I am there for them and that I care. However, I am not doing anything that is making time for a huge conversation of how close we are, etc.

    I hope that they know they can come to me. That's my goal--not to be a friend, but to be a trusted adult in their lives. Someone that they know will not do them harm, show them respect, and protect them when needed. I just want to be someone who is on their side.

    I feel that most of them do know that. I had a couple of kids in the beginning that wanted to test the limits, but for the most part, my class is great. Even my little troublemakers are pretty good if I give them that look. It's just that they need a reminder every now and then. :)

    Good luck!
     

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