The relationship between a student and teacher has a significant impact on a student’s success in the classroom. As choral educators, we have a distinct advantage in the development of this relationship as we work with students for multiple years. Unfortunately, at times, student-teacher relationships have been tainted by the inappropriate actions of educational professionals. While this blog seeks to promote positive and encouraging content, disapproval for inappropriateness in the classroom must be clearly communicated. As a result, Episode 4 of ChoralEd focuses on establishing clear boundaries and suggestions for developing appropriate student-teacher relationships in the classroom.
Maintain Professional Boundaries
To protect yourself from any appearance of inappropriateness, it is important to establish professional boundaries. Teachers should avoid hugging students. While there is nothing wrong with hugs and students at times need to be consoled, over time, regularly providing students with hugs can break down your professional boundaries, potentially leading to inappropriateness. Avoid being alone with students. This situation can potentially place the teacher in a “she said, he said” legal predicament. Avoid interacting with students on social media. Students do not need to send you private messages online, and don’t need to see any of your personal photos. Minimize encouraging comments about physical appearance. Innocently commenting on the physical appearance of a student is important for promoting their self-esteem. However, making these comments can quickly degrade the integrity of your professional boundaries. The best alternative is to direct these comments to the entire group. For example, “You all look nice in your concert uniform.” Keep conversations on appropriate topics. As the student-teacher relationship develops, students begin to feel more comfortable talking with you about their personal life. Ensure that these conversations remain appropriate by avoiding topics such as romantic relationships, your issues with other faculty, staff, parents, or students, and inappropriate humor.
In developing positive relationships with students begin by greeting students at the door as they enter and exit. This is the first and last interaction you have with a student each day. Make it a positive interaction with a high five, a smile, and an encouraging word. For those with religious affiliations, pray for your students. When dealing with challenging students the use of prayer can often change your mindset towards these individuals. Give students your full attention. This tells students they are important to you. When giving students your full attention, talk with them about their interests. Attend and ask students about their extracurricular activities. Some students may have an absentee parent. Your interest and involvement can have a significant impact on their life. Excessively encourage. Throughout middle school and high school, self-esteem is a significant challenge for many students. Your encouragement can help enhance a student’s perception of self-worth.
A detailed article on this topic by Micah Bland can be found in the spring 2020 issue of ChorTeach. (login required) https://acda.org/archives/2736
To watch ChoralEd, Episode 4 on YouTube click HERE.