When thinking about being a future high school educator, there is one particular topic that I come back to over and over again, and that is the balance between being professional and respected by my students, but also in some sense being a friend to them, someone they can relate to and trust. The whole reason I wanted to become a teacher in the first place, wasn’t necessarily because of the teaching aspect, but because I love kids. High school can be such an incredibly difficult time in life, (at least it was for me), and it was the advice, guidance, and encouragement I received from one of my teachers that really helped me through everything, and left such a huge impact on me. That’s what I want to do for my own students. I want to get to know them not only on an academic level, but a personal level as well. I want to be able to be a big part of each of their support systems and someone they can go to about issues both inside and outside of the classroom; someone they can confide in or just talk to, about whatever. I feel like this is especially important nowadays because I feel like, in some ways, there has been a shift within the last decade or so in the attitude of parents towards their children and of course not all parents, probably not even the majority, but a lot of parents just don’t care anymore, and don’t really get involved in their own children’s lives or just listen to what they have to say. At least that’s how it was for a lot of my friends in high school. So, since many kids don’t have that support and encouragement at home, I want my own students to feel like they have that at school.
In addition to being someone my students can find confide in, I want to also be a friend, someone they can have fun with as well. There was this one professor I had a Front Range who was just an absolute blast and all the students loved him. He always made time if anyone wanted to hang out outside of class and would even post his fitness schedule for anyone who wanted to meet him at the gym and be work out buddies. I know it may sound kind of strange or maybe inappropriate in some way, but it wasn’t at all, and I really think it helped our class really get connected and get to know each other and our professor. I also had a professor at CSU last semester who would have movie nights at her house and invite all her students. I never made it to one, but I always thought it was really neat that she did that. For so long I adamantly believed that teachers and people in authority had no business trying to form friendships with their students; in fact, I used to look down on people like that a lot because I found it extremely unprofessional and out of place. Now though, after actually having professors like this, I really see the benefits it can have and all the reasons why I want to be that be that way with my students too.
However, there is such a fine line nowadays with what is considered appropriate behavior and sometimes it’s hard to know for sure. Last semester I took an education course in which we would go help out at different elementary/middle schools. We were each assigned to a group of about 5-10 students. Before our fist day at the school, our professor gave us a lecture on the do’s and don’ts regarding student teaching. I was kind of surprised when she told us that we were not supposed to hug any of the students. This seemed strange to me because I remember when I was that age, I used to hug all my teachers all the time, but that is not allowed in most schools anymore. It was just a realization for me of how much times have changed. And it makes me kind of bummed. I really want to be able to reach out to my students beyond the academic level, but I’m just worried about ever being perceived the wrong way. I just really want to know what the balance between professional and personal should actually look like. I hope I’m able to figure it out quickly though, and be the kind of teacher that I always hoped to be.