“Being Friendly with Students”

When I took up the job as an English teacher at Treamis World School, my father – a retired teacher, offered me lots of advice including “be friendly but not friends with your students.” I did not understand it anything beyond the wordplay. I now live on campus in quarters adjacent to the students’ dormitory. This means, I hear knock on the door at odd hours. Often they come to complain about something or to share their troubles or to ask for help with studies. Frequently, I even have to play their study partner which involves me asking the questions from their notes and hearing them answer. Although my experiences as a student were not quite like that, there is nothing out of the ordinary in these. But what really surprised me is, often students come to me just for a casual chat. They talk about their family, friends, school and everything that fancies them at the time. But, they don’t specifically ask me for any inputs on those matters. They just want me to listen like a good friend. Being a teacher is more than an instructor. On a typical day, I don the roles of a facilitator, a comforter, a guide, a parent and a friend. Or, perhaps a good friendship should embody all these. I don’t mind being their good sounding board. But often they get carried away and try to gossip about their classmates and teachers. And that is where I draw the line and remind them that I am not their friend. Now my dad’s advice makes sense to me.

Ms.Pavithra Satheeshkumar

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