Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Katie and her student BFFs.

From Rate Your Students, May 15, 2009

Katie From Kalamazoo on Friending the Flakes.

I won't even address any of the specific and seriously ridiculous recent postings about being friends with students.

The truth is, we are human beings first, social beings, really, and who do we have more contact with than students? Of course I'm friends with my colleagues, but my students are very dear to me.

I feel very sorry for those of you who don't see the possibility of very strong relationships with these amazing women AND men who are in our classes. It's a warm feeling for me to go to work because I know my friends await my arrival in the classroom. We call each other by our first names or "nick" names, and we go about the business of learning as real peers.

Those of you who don't understand that likely come from an earlier generation of instruction. You think you have to hold power over students in order to lead them. But, you see, I don't want to lead them. In fact many times my students lead me to new understandings.

I'm a hardass on grading: don't get me wrong. But we're a small communal society for the span of a semester (or usually much more in my case), and it's lovely to have these relationships.

Sure, I've had students in my home. I feel very very sorry for those of you who have not. You're missing wonderful and rewarding friendships.

1 comment:

  1. Having groups of students at your house is one thing. It's pretty common at some institutions where most students live on campus and most professors live nearby, and perfectly acceptable, normal, perhaps even expected to some degree at some institutions. It may involve some hassle and some expense (especially if the tradition began at a time when professors had wives at home to handle the logistics), but it can be part of the job in some places. Job candidates who have done their homework should have some idea if that's the kind of institution they're going to be working for, and weigh that fact as part of their decision-making process.

    Having *individual* students in your house strikes me as treading on dangerous ground, even (perhaps especially) at schools where the group-entertaining practice prevails. There's just too much room for misunderstanding and/or misrepresentation, and no witnesses around to clarify what happened. Better to meet in a coffee shop or even a bar (and if you're worried about colleagues might think seeing you alone with a student in one of those places -- well, you really shouldn't be inviting that student to your home, should you?).

    There might be some exception somewhere in there involving hiring students for odd jobs (babysitting, yard work, etc.), but employing a current or possibly-future student, even on a casual basis, also strikes me as a bad idea.