May 17, 2011

Being Friendly with Students: How Much is Too Much?

I will occasionally hug some of my students, when they look as if they need a hug or if they attempt to give me one. The hugs are usually pretty casual, almost more like half hugs and very short. I never hug my middle school and high school male students, and I would never feel comfortable doing this. For the most part, I will shake hands and give high fives. But, I feel that a smile, a warm greeting, and a positive compliment is usually all they need.

That's it.

I don't constantly hug them, shower them with compliments, play with their hair, give them kisses on their heads, or act as if I am their buddies.

Why I think being too friendly or emotionally invested with my students is a bad idea:
  • They are my students, not my children. 
  • I don't want to make them uncomfortable. 
  • I don't want them to see me as their "mom" or "friend".
  • Things can change. I might not be their teacher next year or I might be assigned another student. The last thing I need is to be too emotionally attached to my student and vice versa. It would be sad, yes, but I would not think it would be the end of the world and I hope my student would feel the same. 
  • I don't want to view my students as only these cute and wonderful kids I want to hug all of the time, because it would make it difficult for me to see the real issues and problems that may exist with these students. 
  • How is a student going to take me seriously if they see me as his or her friend?
  • I don't particularly enjoy hugging, kissing, and holding hands with my students, even if they are really cute. It doesn't feel comfortable for me to act this way with students.  
  • (Added by a reader, thanks). Children need to understand the role of adults in schools and trust them. Boundaries need to be clear to keep them safe. When children don't understand what is inappropriate behaviour from an adult in school, they accept it as okay because Miss/Mrs/Mr So and So used to do it and they were nice.

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    5 comments:

    1. Can I add to your list:

      - Children need to understand the role of adults in schools and trust them. Boundaries need to be clear to keep them safe.

      When children don't understand what is inappropriate behaviour from an adult in school, they accept it as okay because Miss/Mrs/Mr So and So used to do it and they were nice.

      Why does it have to be you? Because you care about doing your job properly. Because the children's welfare is a priority of your job. Because other people are too afraid of rocking the boat on someone else's conduct to get involved.

      You rock. As does your blog.

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    2. Aaw, thanks! :)

      I will add this to the list. Great point!

      ReplyDelete
    3. I agree totally! I don't hug my kids at all, just because I'm afraid to, and technically we're not supposed to. I think in the past two years, I hugged someone twice; the first was the seniors graduating, and then one student who was really nervous about being in a talent show. I hugged her to congratulate her on a job well done, in a public place.

      Maybe I will loosen up next year, since the new school I will work at- the principal said she does hug students who sometimes just need one.

      On the other hand (being in the deaf community), sometimes the line between friendly and professional gets murky, just because the deaf community is so small. I find that I sometimes have conversations with students (older ones) on issues that are more appropriate to be discussed with a parent. I understand most of them don't have communication at home, so I put aside my feelings and try to be as honest as I can, just because I'd rather they have the truth and honest adult guidance rather than learn something not quite right from their peers. Especially when it comes to sex (eek!) or relationships. I do draw the line at some topics. I find teachers, at least in deaf schools, often play other roles other than teachers; counselor, friend, parent, etc. I guess it's a matter of using common sense and taking into account the student's needs, and their ability (or inability) to get the support they need outside of school. I think this is also true in a residential setting maybe, because the kids don't see their parents all week, so they don't get the chance to get affection and/or advice when they need it.

      Students in mainstream settings might have different needs (or maybe the same), I don't know, as I don't work with mainstreamed students. I was mainstreamed myself growing up, but I learned everything I needed to know from books! lol

      ~Janel

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    4. there are other ways to show kids you care without touching, compliments for a good job from my teachers were always like a hug to me. Because I know they noticed and cared.

      ReplyDelete

    Keep it civil.