Monday, July 27, 2015

"They like me, they really like me!"

Teachers, please don’t try and win students’ approval. 

I’ve seen so many well-meaning (and some not-so-well-meaning) teachers “friend zone” their students, thinking that having students like them is a prerequisite to effective instruction.  

Yes, it’s nice to have people like you. But seriously, it doesn’t take much to get teenagers to like you.  Let’s face it, they aren’t the most discerning of people.  Teens have little life experience, no impulse control and a greatly inflated sense of their own importance.  Can you easily get someone like that to think you’re cool?  I should hope so.

Give students what they want and of course they’ll “like you.”  The trouble is, once you’ve earned their approval as one of the “chill” teachers who really “gets” them, they see you as their equal. 

This is not a compliment. 

Do you see how they act with their “equals”, their friends, pushing each other in the hallway, snatching food off each other’s plates in the cafeteria, making up unflattering nicknames? 
Is this really what you want? 

My next five posts will detail stories that show the ugly consequences for those “chill” teachers who put friendship over structure. This isn’t a situation that helps anybody. If you think this isn’t a big deal, then you should read the essay from a student who wrote about her favorite teacher.  It will make you squirm.

Oh wait, that’s tomorrow.  Well, I’m already squirming now, and wanting to call Child Protective Services just thinking about it.