Repeat after me, “I am not my students’s friend”, “I am not my students’s friend.”
The sooner teachers come to realize this, the more control they will have of their classrooms.
Too many times, teachers worry about whether the kids will like them. They want to be perceived as the “cool” teacher or the “most popular” teacher. Let that go! You are the adult in the classroom, they are not your peers. There has to be a line drawn somewhere. I love my students, but they are not my friends, and I let them know this from the beginning of the school year. I remember explaining to one of my classes that I was not their friend. One student said, “That’s mean!” I replied, “My friends are my peers, people I work with or hang out with, not children.” I believe they understood what I meant.
I rarely have a student that doesn’t enjoy being in my class, not because I’m the ” cool”, but because of the “cool” way I teach. How do you ask students to do what you’ve asked after you have told them a story about the blind date you had last night? When my students cross the line, I tell them, or their peers tell them.I draw a line in the air or on a desk, and say, “This is the line, this side is adult business, and this is a child’s business, stay on your side.” Unfortunately, that line has been blurred in a lot of homes. The students are included in every conversation the parents have, and when they come to school, they expect the same relationship with you. It amazes me when I hear students share personal information about another teacher. I share some personal events from my life, vacations, stuff about my kids, loss of a family member, etc…, but my students didn’t know a thing about my divorce when I was going through it.
If being the “cool” or “popular” teacher is truly a concern , here are some tips that make it happen naturally.
1. Be friendly, but don’t be their friend!
2. Teach with excitement! ( Incorporating Web 2.0 tools really works, they aren’t even aware they’re learning)
3. Demand respect and give respect. (Draw the line)
Do I have fun with my students? All the time! But they know where the line is between teacher and friend, and if they cross it, I help them find their way back!