Thursday, June 14, 2012

What's My Age Again?

A few months ago, a coworker admonished me for allowing students to follow me on Instagram. Taking me aside, she told me that she honestly didn't know what I was thinking and said something akin to, Kelly, these kids are not your audience, and they are not your friends. She then repeated that she didn't know what I was thinking and acted gravely enough about the "situation" that I panicked, removed any student followers from my Instagram account, and made it private. Then I sat around feeling bad about myself for doing something that my coworker deemed so reprehensible, questioned my judgment, and felt almost dirty. Why did I make such stupid choices and do things that other people thought to be so abhorrent? What was wrong with me?

Well, like I said, that was months ago, and since that conversation, I've had a lot of time to think. The first thing I have to say is that I think my coworker dramatized the situation. I truly don't think I did anything horrible, and I think I had absolutely no reason to feel ashamed. The second thing I have to say is that she was wrong: right or wrong, my students are my friends.

"Friend" is a pretty common word, and we all know what it means. For the very occasion of this blog, though, I looked it up in a few dictionaries, and this is what I found:

From the Free Online Dictionary--

1. A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
2. A person whom one knows; an acquaintance.
From Google--
A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.
1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
While I understand that these definitions are denotative and not connotative and one could argue that these definitions don't define the word the way my coworker used it, I have to say that even if I were to apply the connotative definition, my students would still be that. Not all of them, of course, but some of them definitely.
I DO like and trust some of my students;
some of them and I  DO have (at least from my point of view) a bond of platonic mutual affection; and I AM attached to some of them, too.
Why  is that so wrong?
Isn't it natural for me to care about people who I spend almost as much time with as I spend with my family? Isn't caring what I'm supposed to do?
Whether you think I'm supposed to or not, all I have to say is that if I didn't care, I couldn't do my job, at least not well. If I didn't like my kids and have some kind of reciprocal relationship with at least some of them, I would have had to quit teaching years ago because, as bad as this may sound, the fulfillment I get out of my job--and, yes, as brutal and thankless a job as teaching may be, I do get fulfillment out of it--is tied to the relationships I have with my kids. I know I don't reach all of them, but I also know that I do reach some. 

They also reach me.

There are times that I go to work in the worst mood possible, hating the world, and after an hour or two spent with my kids, my bad mood not only dissipates, but I'm actually in a good one. There are also times when I go to work sad and they make me happy. There are times when I'm not at work and I see something that I know one of my students would love or be interested in, and that student instantly comes to my mind and I make a mental note to discuss said thing with that kid. Just like the kids that actually came from me, my student-kids are always on my mind.
No matter how much my coworker looks down on it, some of my students are friends. 
Are they the types of friends I would hang out with and share the things I share with my adult friends? Of course not, but they're friends nevertheless.
And I'm not ashamed to admit it. 



  1. Screw them. Do not feel bad about it. Unless you were posting things that were like pornographic--why wouldn't you let your students follow you?

    XO, Shamara.

    1. You know there was nothing pornographic! She had me so scared, though, the way she pulled me aside and said I had a problem. I thought I was getting fired or something.

  2. You are the best teacher I've ever had in 13 years of schooling, no questions asked. To be honest Mrs. Mac, after reading your blog I noticed that you and I are a lot alike. Out of all the teachers I've had throughout the years, you've had the greatest impact on me and my future, and for that I will be forever grateful to you. I really look up to you and everything you've been through. Thank you, Mrs. McIntyre.

    1. You're welcome :)I have to tell you that there are many times--many times--that I question being a teacher, but then I see or hear something like this, and it makes me realize why I do what I do and happy that I do it. Thank you.