I had a moment of pride the other day. My husband is a keen photographer and attends a local club for fellow enthusiasts. Well, a few weeks ago, at one of these meetings, he noticed a young woman sitting alone and looking rather lost. So he went over to chat to her and found that she was with her grandfather and that she was a keen photographer herself. While revealing this information she also told my husband that she was a student at the school at which I teach. So naturally, he asked her who her English teacher was. When she told him it was Mrs S (Me!) he asked her what she thought of her teacher.( A bit dangerous I thought!)
She told him that she really liked my lessons and that all the students wanted to be in them. When he asked her why this was, she told him that Mrs S "talks to us." (He then told her who he was, which probably embarrassed her a bit and made her glad that she hadn't said anything horrible about me!)
When he told me this story, I was actually moved. It was lovely to hear such comments about my teaching style direct 'from the horse's mouth' so to speak. But it also puzzled me. Why is it so strange for teachers to 'talk' to their students? Surely teachers haven't lost sight of the fact that students are people too?
To answer my own question, yes, many teachers have. I've had horrified comments about my relaxed style of teaching and that I'm encouraging disrespect and misbehaviour. This is rubbish. I've found that students respond better if treated with respect. After all, how are we to earn our students' respect if we don't show them any? I've also found that if any student is rude to me, in most classes, they are chastised by their own classmates and told that they 'can't talk to Miss like that!'
Generally speaking, I've found that the majority of students respond well if treated like people...after all, that's what most of them are!
There's a fine line between being friendly and being a friend. A teacher should be one and definitely not the other, after all, no sane adult wants to 'hang out' with kids... I've found that being friendly with the students and talking to them pleasantly, encourages them to behave in the same manner to me, thus making discipline simple and my life easier.
With my Yr 11 class (the girl in the photography club is in that group) I talk to them, (actually, its more accurate to say that we talk) not only about the texts we are studying, but also about current affairs, new ideas about writers, films, psychology, morality...in fact, anything that will a) set the mood for my lesson, or b) make what I'm teaching more accessible and relevant to the students.
After all, this isn't rocket science. It's education.