Teacher-Student Friendship Inside And Outside School
Can teachers and students be friends outside of school? That’s a question that’s accompanied by varying answers from the perspectives of both teachers and students.
Someone would argue that we’re all people, we share common interests, we may have certain things in common, we get along and most importantly we like spending time together.
Another may argue that the whole idea is inappropriate and in some cases against the regulations of the institution.
Today we’ll be looking at the various reasons why teachers and students can and can’t be friends both outside and inside the school.
Can Teachers And Students Be Friends Inside And Outside School
Human beings are social creatures and we click with people with similar personalities sometimes without any real effort.
This also applies to teachers and students. For one reason or the other, a teacher can relate very easily with their learners but advancing to friendship can come with some repercussions.
Yes. Teachers and students can be friends inside and outside school but this is not advisable in most situations. Let’s talk more about some of the pros and cons of a teacher-student friendship.
Why Teachers And Students Can’t Be Friends
1. Lose Respect
Teachers have the duty to help train the upcoming generation to impact their communities positively with the knowledge and training they’ve received.
Some teachers choose to come to the level of the student to make them easier to relate to while others simply choose to maintain a professional relationship with their students.
Being seen as a peer by the students comes with some advantages but the trade-offs are not worth it in most situations.
Even in our homes, there’s a reason that parents need to strike a balance between being nice and being strict.
Children are trained to understand that misbehavior comes with consequences even though the parent is very friendly.
This same situation applies to teachers and their learners. Becoming friends with your learners enables them to easily relate to you but decreases the respect you command.
You are simply seen as a peer and your instructions aren’t easily followed and even then, students who don’t follow them believe there’ll be no consequences.
Meeting outside class with a student and having fun together doesn’t help the situation as the last thing such a student expects from a friend is to be strict with them in class.
They’re more likely to disturb in class when the teacher is around without fear of any real repercussions.
2. Become Biased
Remaining impartial becomes a problem as we’re tempted to rule in favor of our friends. Teachers are responsible for a number of students, and their academic work.
This includes grading their assignments and other forms of assessment. Failing or giving a student poor grades becomes a challenge when the student in question is your friend.
Ideally, no student would fail but the teacher needs to be unbiased in assessment and addressing disputes which becomes challenging in this case.
3. Student Pride
Ever tried punishing your friend for doing something wrong? That’s what teachers who befriend students need to deal with as the student expects special treatment.
It’s an uncomfortable situation to be in for both teacher and student. Such teachers choose to talk out any wrongdoings and let any misbehaviors slide without reporting or following the outlined punishment.
The student eventually starts feeling they’re above the law and continue or in some cases increase their wrongdoings.
This could be bullying other students, talking in class, or even not submitting assignments.
4. Students Expect Favour
Imagine a student hanging out with a teacher outside school and for some reason, the teacher owes the student a favor.
The expectation is that the favor will be paid out which could be in school. The teacher could be expected to manipulate a grade for an assignment.
Imagine spending the weekend playing games with the student, simply to come to school on Monday and complain that they didn’t submit an assignment.
Rewards and punishments are a part of education. From submitting assignments on time to behavior issues, students who break the rules expect some form of punishment.
This becomes a problem when the person administering the punishment is someone they consider a friend.
The student, in this case, feels betrayed and their anguish towards the problem is directed towards the teacher.
They expect special treatment and therefore feel betrayed when the teacher follows through with the outlined punishment.
This can lead to further issues of misbehavior and the learner intentionally challenging the authority of the teacher.
6. Diminished Authority
Trying to become the cool teacher in the school has its pros but the cons in most cases outweigh the benefits.
No disrespect with this statement but there’s this saying that “If you play with a dog, it’ll eventually lick your face”.
Trying to talk and act like your students makes it easier for them to relate to you and establishes a smoother relationship with students.
Unfortunately, this is advantageous until you need to exercise your authority in class. We’ve all been students before and you’d realize students always kept quiet when a strict teacher was around and they were more likely to disturb when a friendly teacher was around.
The strict teacher would get the job done but the teacher’s impact could be limited as a friendly teacher would better understand them and help provide solutions geared towards addressing their challenges.
It is, therefore, best to ensure that you strike a balance between strict teacher behavior and being friendly with your students.
You can be friendly with your students but it is advisable that you steer away from being friends with them inside and outside the school.
7. Negative Social Perception
Teacher-student friendship can easily be misinterpreted in this modern age. This can have negative effects on both the teacher and the student.
A female or male teacher being friends with a student of the opposite sex can lead to problems for the teacher.
With well-known cases of teacher-student relationships all over the internet, any unfortunate situation could lead to the wrong conclusion.
In some situations, students are also treated as teacher’s pet. This can sometimes, has no real negative impact on the student but the stigma can have some negative effects sometimes.
8. Put Job At Risk
Gone are the days when a female student could visit a male teacher at their home. Doing this would simply put the teacher’s career at risk.
Even in the classroom, being caught alone with a student of the opposite sex sends the wrong signal in most communities.
This has led to the ruin of some teaching careers and avoiding this would better serve both teacher and student.
Why Teachers And Students Can Be Friends
1. Easier Lecture Delivery
Becoming friends with students makes them very comfortable around you making it easier for them to approach whenever they have a challenge.
Understanding their way of speaking will also enable you to convey and explain lessons to students more easily.
This will enable the teacher to set examples in class that the students can easily relate with leading to a better understanding of the subject matter.
2. School And Class Become Fun
Although students are able to form relationships with their peers in class, forming one with their teachers makes coming to school or for a lesson more bearable.
I’m sure we all remember enjoying our breaks in school only to be reminded of one lesson we would be having after lunch.
The joy vanishes quickly and panic and fear become our friends for the rest of the break, till we get to class and find the teacher already waiting for us.
The fear turns to terror and we’ll hardly understand a thing taught during that lesson. We wouldn’t even be able to ask questions out of fear of the course.
School seems to be fun only when that course isn’t taught anymore. A relationship with the teacher makes it easier for the student to ask questions even when the topic seems scary.
This makes the lesson tolerable and eventually exciting as any doubts and misunderstandings of concepts will be rectified by the lecturer.
3. Less Judgemental
Most students have strong and weak points in class, and although a student may be reluctant to let someone know of their weakness, someone with a closer relationship and an understanding of these challenges would be able to figure it out.
A teacher who happens to be friends with this student can easily identify these challenges the student faces and put measures in place to address them.
4. Older Student Or Age Mate
Students at the tertiary level vary in age ranging from younger the teacher or professor to old enough to be the teacher’s father in some cases.
Students with the age range of the teacher or even older most of the time are matured and have an understanding of authority.
This makes it easy for them to identify and accept the boundaries of their friendship with the lecturer.
These students will come with years of experience from which a younger lecturer would benefit from knowing full well that the students will still respect the authority of the teacher.
Striking a balance between strictness and friendliness as a teacher is necessary to ensure that your students feel comfortable asking questions during lessons while at the same time understanding the authority of the teacher.
A teacher should be friendly but we wouldn’t advise becoming friends with learners. That said, in the case where you choose to become friends with your students, it is essential to make them aware of the limitation of that friendship and the reasons behind those limitations.
If they’re really your friends, they would understand and accept this limitation. Remember your career could be on the line if you don’t implement some of these limitations.