How close is too close in a student-teacher relationship?

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samsa
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13 Nov 2010, 2:53 am

First, just to clarify, I'm not talking about sexual relationships (which can easily go into very morally gray areas, especially regarding consent and conflicts of interest,) but friendships between a student and a teacher.

I've been close friends with a teacher in the past, and although there was a great generational gap (at the time, I was 16, she was late 40's,) we generally got along well, and this (combined with the fact that I was very socially awkward, and would rather talk to a teacher about deeper issues then whatever the rest of my grade was on about,) lead to us becoming very close friends by the time I was 16 (there was no conflict on interest, as she wasn't actually teaching me at the time, but I (and I hope her) were very aware of this.)

The reason I ask this is because we found ourselves discussing personal issues (including her complaints about her husband,) something which is quite a stretch from discussing academics. Is this too close for a student and a teacher to be (consider that I was at the high school level,) or is it acceptable? What are your experiences?

For the record, my peers didn't care (they took it as part of the weirdness that I've been accepted for,) although they didn't really know the full extent of our relationship, and the staff, again, were apathetic (again, they probably didn't know that we discussed personal issues together.)



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13 Nov 2010, 3:51 am

From a teens perspective it would be nice to have someone with whom they feel safe enough to talk to about almost anything. From an adults perspective they should understand that a teen has enough on their minds with hormones, reg teen drama, school pressures, etc. without hearing complaints about husbands and other highly personal issues. I think that is crossing a line. Just as adults shouldn't argue in front of youngsters, imo, I feel adult topics should be kept private and personal also. I doubt her husband would have been too thrilled to know she was leaning on a teen for support either, that is what therapists are for.



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13 Nov 2010, 5:38 am

I don't think there is too close a friendship to have with a teacher, you can be friends with a teacher and speak to them outside of school. People seem to forget teachers have lives.


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LoveHim
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13 Nov 2010, 2:15 pm

Is she still working at the same school where you two met? How long has it been since you've not been attending that school?



samsa
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13 Nov 2010, 9:06 pm

LoveHim wrote:
Is she still working at the same school where you two met? How long has it been since you've not been attending that school?

Yes, she's still working at the same school, and I still attend the same school.

I should note that at the time of the events described above, she wasn't my teacher.



YourMother
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18 Nov 2010, 4:23 pm

The closest I've come to that is the relationship I have with my art teacher. We have intellectual discussions sometimes hours after college has ended, which surprises the other teachers, and I've met him outside of college a few times as well (at exhibitions of his). I think that the relationship you describe is, of course, not conventional, but fine. However I did know a music teacher who developed a strong (sexual) relationship with one of her pupils, which I thought was fine, and she got sent to prison for it. So maybe I'm not the best person to judge.



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21 Nov 2010, 9:59 pm

i was a teacher for 5 years. the oldest students i taught were 15 years old. i lived right in the very rural, remote community where i taught, so students would want to come over to my house to visit. i discouraged it, and i also did not talk about personal issues with the students.

that's not to say i wasn't there for them when they needed it (i listened to their experiences and problems and feelings), but i did not share those things about myself except certain stories in the context of a lesson (i.e. i would tell them i had 2 sisters and we did not always get along in the context of a lesson about interpersonal relationships).

i did not think it was a good idea to cross that boundary with individual students or about very personal topics for a few reasons. first of all, it would burden the students with my issues, which they should not be expected to shoulder. a second reason is that anything i said could potentially get spoken about across the whole community.

also, it could open me up to questions of professional appropriateness. there were a couple of students who openly had crushes on me, and i would not want there to ever be any questions about my intentions. i was the adult in teh situation, so i had a responsibility to be on the up-and-up at all times. OP, i do understand that this is not the case in your situation, but people do automatically suspect that, and it could be a career-killer for that teacher.


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Smike
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21 Nov 2010, 10:01 pm

I have a massive crush on my lecturer. I am 22 though. Unfortunately, I don;'t think she likes me back :lol:



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22 Nov 2010, 2:13 pm

assuming it is not and moving toward the love / sex dimension, the sky is the limit.

At the same time - it might be a smart move that the teacher is NOT heading up the student's committee - at least for looks.



ddrapayo
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24 Nov 2010, 3:59 pm

IMO, as close as both you and the teacher are comfortable with as long as it won't get either of you in trouble.



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01 Dec 2010, 3:47 pm

I get teacher crushes ALL the time. It's not because they may be somewhat good looking at times [...that is a lie], but my favourite professor is one who will entertain my endless queries. And then, I begin falling in love with them every time I see them. It's not as if I think about them outside of school, but when I'm in the classroom, it's just me and the professor that exists, no one else -- man or woman [save for another student or two who is just as intriguing in his or her comments as the professor is].

I was always drawn to my teachers in that way.



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03 Dec 2010, 12:18 am

The general rule is, if you have to ask, it's too close.


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04 Dec 2010, 4:11 am

I think that type of friendship between student and teacher is appropriate. I'm still very close to my high school Chemistry/Physics/Anatomy&Physiology/Science Team teacher. She's like a 2nd mom to me. She's in her 50's and I was 16 when we really started to be friends. I can tell her absolutely anything. She has shared her personal life with me, she called me when her dad was in the hospital, but she never shared anything that felt like a dark secret or anything like that. I love how honest she is with me. She told me that the other teachers gossip about me. We got pedicures together during the regional math/science contest trip. I would be wary of a teacher unloading their personal problems, like marital issues, on a student, but otherwise I don't see a problem with a close friendship.



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07 May 2017, 5:44 pm

I was very close with a teacher a few years ago. I was in a really bad place back then and she really helped me. I was 14 and she was in her 30ies. It was a friendship -ish. She could tell me how she had similar issues when she was a bit older than me, but the focus was always on me.

i honestly don't know where i would be if it wouldn't have been for her. She helped me though some of my toughest times.

We still occasionally text. I go to another school and she is a mom now, and she wasn't my teacher at the time.



teksla
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07 May 2017, 6:06 pm

I was very close with a teacher a few years ago. I was in a really bad place back then and she really helped me. I was 14 and she was in her 30ies. It was a friendship -ish. She could tell me how she had similar issues when she was a bit older than me, but the focus was always on me.

i honestly don't know where i would be if it wouldn't have been for her. She helped me though some of my toughest times.

We still occasionally text. I go to another school and she is a mom now, and she wasn't my teacher at the time.



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30 Mar 2020, 11:54 am

samsa wrote:
First, just to clarify, I'm not talking about sexual relationships (which can easily go into very morally gray areas, especially regarding consent and conflicts of interest,) but friendships between a student and a teacher.


When I was a student, I never regarded teachers as friends. They were in authority over me, and I had no say in which teachers were assigned to me, so I regarded my teachers as my enemies.


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