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Teacher vs. Friend

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Alex Storts Alex Storts 468 Points

As I prepare to student teach, I have a concern regarding classroom management. I have been observing in my school for a few months, and the students generally like me. However, I think I am being too friendly sometimes. The school is in an urban setting, and the classes can be pretty crazy sometimes. I tell the students to get back to work, stop talking, etc. However, I have never disciplined anyone--my cooperating teacher does. I am a guest in the classroom and I don't want to overstep my boundaries. Is it too late to become more stern? Any tips appreciated!

Keimys Cardenas Keimys Cardenas 2155 Points

Hello Alex! I have had several opportunities to be part of a classroom during my field experience. This semester howver, was the most time I have ever spent in another classroom. I was lucky enough to have a very experienced teacher who has been in the school system for over 20 years! As she prepares for retirement in the next coming years, it was very refreshing for her to have someone like me who is a fresh teacher. At first i was intimidated as i figured she had been teaching for so long there was absolutely nothing that i could bring to the classroom other than just my assistance. But i was surprised that once we spoke and dicussed different things such as classroom management, she was actually very interested in learning from me just as i was in learning from her! I think you should speak with your cooperating teacher and let them know of your concerns. I think it will be beneficial for both of you! As educators, we alsways need to remain open to new ideals and learning from each other is one of the best possible ways to do so. I hope this was helpful and goodluck!

Kaitlin O'Connor Kaitlin O'Connor 1085 Points

Hi Alex, 

I have just finished up my first student teaching placement. I completely understand how you feel about being too friendly with students. I was in a 6th grade science classroom and I found that my students responded better to a healthy balance of friendliness and sternness. In a way, I think it is important to pick your battles with students. If you stop class to correct every little behavior, you may end up losing more students attention than if you had let that small misbehavior go. You have to understand your students and their needs. For example, I had 4 sections of about 30 students each. One of the classes was significantly more challenging than the others and in general they saw a more stern side of me. I would joke aorund with them just as I do with my other classes, but they needed me to be a little bit more strict in order for them to focus and learn successfully. In my more calm and behaved classes, I found myself being a lot more relaxed and friendly because the students could handle that approach and successfully complete their work. It really is all about knowing your students and finding a balance. I can say from personal experience that middle schoolers typically do not respond well to someone who is always strict and tough on them. These kids need to know they are cared for and loved even if they ask for your attention in unloving ways. Some of my toughest students thanked me as I left because I was kind and friendly with them, yet still had high expectations. They knew that I had their best interests in mind every day by the attitude and approach I brought to class. Good luck finding the balance that works for you and your students!

Alex Storts Alex Storts 468 Points

We talk during the planning period, and she usually gives me advice on what I can improve on and what I did well. She has told me that she learns from me being there as well, which is nice. I will talk to her about my concerns. Thanks for the advice!

McKenzie Horn Horn 1330 Points

I agree that you definitely will find that perfect balance overtime. Students tell me frequently that I am one of their favorite teachers and my response tends to be that it is because I am young and am close with them in age. I love to get to know my students on a personal level, this is beccause it allows them to feel more comfortable with me and when I ask them to do work or be stern with them. I find that if a student respects you and enjoys being in the class, they will listen when you ask them to do something the first time.

I reflect back even when I was a student often and how I enjoyed being close with my teachers, rather than they just lecture at me and you are in a classroom that you can hear a pin drop. I think as time goes on you will find the balance within yourself.

Recently, my issue has become focused around cell phones. I say all the time that I want to be a fun teacher and they enjoy coming to science, but if they cannot be responsible and respect my rules, we can change the classsroom management in a 180.

Hope that helps!

Vianney Alfaro Vianney Alfaro 140 Points

You are just like me! When I go to do my observations, I try to be friendly when I am helping the students, and sometimes I feel like they are seeing me more as a friend than as a teacher. I do think that it is because they notice we are not teachers but just 'another kind of students', even though it is good to mark a line between us and them. It will be easier overtime, once we become teachers and they see we are the authority of the classroom.

Marilu Mendoza Marilu Mendoza 135 Points

I have the same concern as you.  I am glad you asked it and I was able to read the responses you were given because this also helps me.  I too have been told that as a teacher we cannot be friends with our students because it will cause this problem and all authority will be lost.  I consider myself a friendly person but I know I am going to have to change when it comes to teaching because I do not want to have this problem when I am left in the classroom as the home teacher.  I suggest to you to do the same.  Try to be nice with your students and help them with their work and that is it.  If the students sense a little bit of friendship they will exploit it and you will lose authority. 

Julia Rodriguez Julia Rodriguez 220 Points

Hello Alex, 

I'm glad you asked this question. The teacher I have been shadowing lately has told me that its good the students see you as a friend and someone they can be their selves around. Her students know the rules well and they know when its time to get serious and get to work and they know when they can talk freely without being afraid. I hope this helps. 

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