Students coming to you for advice?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by teachin4ever, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    Nov 2, 2009

    Hey everyone!

    I teach at a small, private middle school with no guidance counselor. In religion class, we've been discussing who we go to when we have a problem, what we do, etc. I told my class that if they ever have a problem and don't feel like they can go to their parents or a friend, they can come talk to me.

    Well, after school today, I had one of my students ask if she could stay after school tomorrow to talk to me about something and I had another student leave me a note on my desk asking if she could talk to me about some issues she's going through at home.

    This is only my second year teaching, and while I'm not uncomfortable talking to these students, I want to be careful. I don't want to step on the parents toes, but at the same time, I feel like my students should feel comfortable talking to me about problems rather than letting situations get worse.

    I guess I'm looking for some advice from veteran teachers who have had students come to them to talk about stuff. Am I silly for being a little apprehensive about all this?? Is there anything I need to be careful of doing/saying or not doing/not saying?? :help:
     
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  3. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    Nov 2, 2009

    I'm not a veteran teacher by any means, but I speak to my students all of the time privately because there is a lot of bullying going on. If I ddon't listen and help them work it out, then I feel like I'm neglecting my students and allowing the situations to worsen.

    If a student is being abused in any way at home, then it is our responsibility to do something about it. Allowing a student to come to you opens up good communication. If something is going on at home they want to tell someone. If they trust you, then you will be that person.

    Don't worry about stepping on parents' toes. You're doing your job. They expect you to listen to their children.
     
  4. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Nov 2, 2009

    I agree.

    One thing to try and make sure you clarify before talking to anyone is that what they say to you will be kept in confidence unless.... fill in the blanks with your own things that you feel would need to be shared, but also make sure you inform them that if they are going to hurt themselves or others, or that if they are being abused in some way, you must report it.

    You may add to that what you want, but those things are an absolute must to include when dealing with students who need to talk.
     
  5. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    Thank you both so much for your advice! I really appreciate it!
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 3, 2009

    I think that a big part of the job is being there for the kids.

    That said, I make it perfectly clear that I'm not a friend, I'm a teacher. And that if they tell me something that implies that they, a friend, or some property is being hurt, I'm legally and morally obligated to report it.

    Only once have I had to do so; a girl was trying to counsel her friend out of suicide. I went straight to the school chaplain and let him take it from there.
     
  7. midwestteacher

    midwestteacher Cohort

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    I know this puts you in a very uncomfortable position, but these kids wouldn't have come to you if they had someone else they could confide in. You really need to be aware of your legal responsibilities and be up front with the student about that. You have to report abuse, etc. Offer to sit in with them with the counselor while they talk.
    Last week, a student revealed to us in class that her boyfriend had choked her and banged her face off the steering wheel of her car hard enough to burst blood vessels in her eye. I reported the incident to the counselor, but she denied it when confronted by him. We talked and she has ended the relationship and is staying away from the young man in question.
     
  8. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Nov 3, 2009

    Just be careful to protect yourself - leave your door open, report anything that could be considered abuse, know your school's policies, be aware of resources to help and refer to things beyond your scope of expertise. When in doubt say you will get back to them and get advise. Help but don't get overinvolved which is where many teachers get in trouble. A local v.p. just got fired for driving a teenager to the bus station so she could get a bus away from her disfunctional family and go to extended family. That was against policy to have a kid in his car, to aid a child running away, etc. etc. His heart was in the right place but his brain was not engaged.
     
  9. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Nov 3, 2009

    Do you not have guidance or policy on this. In the UK we have to attend courses on this sort of thing and every school/district has a policy.
     
  10. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Nov 3, 2009

    This can be kind of sticky. I'd have no idea what to do either if kids came to me w/ some really heavy issues that they feel they can't talk to their parents about. I know I don't want to be involved in any lawsuits later down the road or be retaliated against by parents or family members if something happens. Can't another teacher or the VP or principal be in their office w/ you to talk about this w/ the student? I know, there's probably not enough hrs in a day to do this, but I'd feel uncomfortable knowing some deep secret or issue that the student doesn't want me to tell his parents or ayone else. :unsure:

    Sounds like good advice here though! :)

    I mean you almost need an audio recorder these days to avoid words getting twisted around or to avoid misunderstandings.
     
  11. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Nov 3, 2009

    That's what a lot of advocates of parents of sped kids do so bad teachers can't go back on their words. :p
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 3, 2009

    Much of the time, the kids aren't looking to you for the answers. Very often they either know the answers already, or they know that there's no real question. For example, mom and dad are fighting constantly and it's rough at home. They simply need a sounding board, they're not comfortable putting either parent into that position, and they know that their friends simply don't understand.

    Don't be afraid to let them talk, but also don't be afraid to give the advice you know they need to hear. Also don't be afraid to say you don't have the answers, but to recommend a hotline or a 12 step program (promptly followed by a heads-up to someone in guidance.)

    For too many of these kids, their teachers are the only stability in their lives. Too many have parents who can't or won't parent. They need some adult who will give them the rational advice that we would have gotten from our parents.
     
  13. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    Thanks, guys. Your responses have been extremely helpful. I met with one young lady after school today and the first thing she asked was "Are you gonna tell my parents anything we talk about?" I let her know that what she says will stay between us unless she or someone she knows is being abused or if she is going to hurt someone else.

    Turns out she has an older sister, 19, who is going to college away from home and is smoking pot. This student is really worried about her sister and tried talking to her about it, but her sister got really mad at her and told her to butt out. The student ended up telling her parents about the pot (on accident) and she felt really bad afterward because her sister got in a ton of trouble and her sister now blames her. I pretty much just let her get her frustrations out and then she asked for advice. I told her that as her teacher, I think she did the right thing telling her parents and that while her sister may be upset now, one day down the road, she'll thank her. I also let her know that doing the right thing isn't always the easiest choice and I told her I was proud of her for speaking up and helping her sister.

    Not that this situation isn't serious, but I was really relieved it wasn't something crazy! I was really expecting the worst! Again, thanks for your help! I would not have felt as comfortable going into this situation if it weren't for your feedback!
     
  14. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Nov 3, 2009

    We are told that the first thing you must make the child understand is that you cannot keep anything they say between you and that you may have to share what they tell you with the School's child protection officer (usually the Principal). It is that person who will then decide what action may need to be taken. On the few occassions when a child has confided in me (not a common occurance as I am a male in a Girl's school) I always listen then offer to accompany the child to see one of the school councillors. If the child won't go along I always pass on my concerns to the Councillor who will then make an apppointment with the child to discus the problem. W are warned that if we keep a confidence with a child and then there is subsequently a big child protection case/crime then we become an accomplice to the crime by keeping it a secret! We could end up in court.
     
  15. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I agree completely, Alice. Very often, I can come out of a meeting with a student in which I have said little other than, "You know that if what you need to tell me involves abuse, I have to report it", "Okay, now what are we/you going to do?", and "Would you like me to come with you/be with you?" I don't need to have answers, I just need to have time. I am proud of the fact that my students see me as someone they trust to listen to them in a non-judgemental way. Sometimes, offering an ear, a shoulder and support teaches more than any English or Math (sorry, Alice) lesson ever could. It affirms that they are valuable and worth being listened to.
     
  16. Simba

    Simba Comrade

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    Nov 4, 2009

    I really believe Alice has a wealth of knowledge!!!

    I work with many "alternative" students all day long. Sometimes teachers don't have the empathy needed to develop a rapport with their students. I thought my environment as a child was difficult. It's UNREAL the way some of my students are living at their "homes" today. I was that student that didn't have an adult to talk to about all my issues at home when i was in high school.

    I was luck enough to have a teacher to "confide" in. I will never forget it to this day. All he did was listen and that was all I needed.

    I sit and listen EVERYDAY...Sometimes I provide advice...sometimes I just listen. It's actually one of my favorite aspects of my job. I make sure I'm still respected as the teacher though and not their "friend."
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nope, I'm just old :)
     
  18. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    All very good advice. I would only add that I would let my P know that I am meeting with a student after school ahead of time, and leave the door open so you are protected. Then follow all the above advice, and never share the information with anyone if it is not mandated that you do so.
     

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