Ever since I started teaching I heard many tell me that I was too friendly with the students. Never in my wildest imagination did I thought I would be told that I am ‘too friendly’ with the students. I still do not understand how my being friendly is a problem for other teachers, as long as it does not impact a child’s learning negatively, because after all that is why we are here, right?
Apparently people have a habit of confusing friendliness with leniency. I have a strong belief in maintaining balance. I am neither too friendly nor too lenient. There are boundaries that I have set. However, what the main problem teachers think is that this results in students taking ‘advantage’ of the ‘friendly’ teachers. But have we ever wondered why this is the case? Why do students feel like they can ‘use’ such teachers?
Unfortunately, the problem with our teachers is that they have been strict for far too long. The problem arises when we as adults forget that just like adults have ego, self respect and dignity so do children. I still vividly remember how my history teacher threw my copy across the classroom floor when I got all my answers wrong in 6th grade. I was hurt. I never respected that woman. I never learned anything from her. I don’t remember anything I studied during her class but I do remember this one event. It is carved into my memory.
When teachers emotionally or physically abuse children, often children become too shallow. So when they ‘rarely’ see a ‘friendly’ teacher they assume that she is weak and will be easily manipulated to their will. Okay so now the children sound like evil villains. Remember this, bad people aren’t born they are made. The environment at home matters, no doubt about that, but the way students are treated at the school matter too. An average child spends half of his/her time awake at school.
For all the teachers holding on to grudges against children who falter at some point and do something unethical, please forgive them. Not for their sake but for your own sake. For all the teachers trying to be authoritarians, stop bullying them. Not for yourself, but for the sake of everyone involved. For all the teachers who do not admit they are wrong and feel ‘hurt’ when corrected by a student, let go of that ego. You are only teaching children to be perfectionists, which is incorrect and impractical.
I respect teachers who make mistakes, accept them and apologize. I respect teachers who are so down to earth that they consider themselves equal to the children and not superior to them. Treat your students the way you want to be treated!