Should School Teachers and Staff Members Be Allowed to Socialize with Students after School?
The primary goal of teachers is giving knowledge to their students, teaching them subjects, and preparing them for adult life in the long term. However, sometimes teacher-student interaction is not limited to the classroom setting. Hence, social media or face-to-face meetings provide plenty of opportunities for students and staff members to socialize on an educational and social basis. However, there are opponents of such dual relationships who insist that they may undermine appropriate relationships. Overall, while there are some advantages of after-school socialization, such as growing cohesion, continuous mentoring, and development of socialization skills in students, proper boundaries are needed to prevent teacher-student communication from undermining the educational process.
On the one hand, socialization between students and teachers or staff members contributes to the success of the educational process, the social skills of the students, and the atmosphere in the classroom. Encouragement of cooperation will create prosocial behavior in students, which will allow them to establish contact more easily in future relations. Similarly, teachers and staff members may communicate after school while arranging the visit of some social or cultural events together as the extension of the curriculum activities. Of course, teachers and staff members also possess the potential to offer advice, extra academic attention, and even emergency help in some particular cases. For instance, the teacher can also solve conflicts within the collective through personal interaction with students in question, which will prevent cases of aggression or social exclusion. As scholars note, socialization allows “building a caring relationship based on mutual trust, so teachers are more inclined to help students, and students are more receptive to teacher observations” (Ungureanu and Stan 869). On that basis, teachers may become perfect counselors to address non-educational issues that may influence students’ performance in school. Since there is already a bond between student and teacher, the child may have more trust and feel more comfortable to communicate with a teacher. At the same time, teachers who interact with students daily have more possibilities to notice any issue and help in advance or contact parents.
On the other hand, socialization may be inappropriate in some contexts, particularly if it leads to subjective judgments that may violate the normal educational process or cross the line of student-teacher relationships. Hence, teachers should establish boundaries in after-school relations with students. According to Anderson-Harper, such boundaries are the “limits that allow for a safe connection” and exist in order to protect the relationship (Schneider, et al. 1). In turn, violations of such boundaries through inappropriate or excessive personal relationships “have the propensity to impair the teacher role, diminish the trust of the student, and result in emotional harm” (1). For example, the Cyberbullying Research Center highlights the negative implications of personal teacher-student interaction outside of the school, particularly on social media: if a teacher adds some students on the friends list but not others, “it could create a perception that those specific students are favored and may receive preferential treatment.” Moreover, close after-school personal relationships without proper check may evolve into flirtation or sexual relationships, which may have even bigger implications (Cyberbullying Research Center). Hence, staff members and teachers should be aware of proper communication boundaries.
Overall, the communication between students and teachers or staff members has positive potential due to development of social skills, an extension of curriculum activities, and the ability of teachers to provide advice, solve issues, or support the student. However, it is necessary to preserve this socialization within adequate boundaries to prevent the influence of socialization on the assessment of students or transforming it into overly personal communication.
Cyberbullying Research Center. “Implications for Teachers Who Socialize with Students Online, and How to Avoid Them.” Cyberbullying Research Center, 24 Mar. 2010, https://cyberbullying.org/implications-for-teachers-who-socialize-with-students-online-and-how-to-avoid-them. Accessed 17 Feb 2019.
Schneider, Eric F. et al. “Faculty Perceptions of Appropriate Faculty Behaviors in Social Interactions with Student Pharmacists.” American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, vol. 75, 4 (2011): 70.
Ungureanu, Cristina, and Andreea Stan. “Students As Actors in Teachers’ Socialization. A Sociolinguistic Study Within the Romanian Context.” Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol 76, 2013, pp. 868-872. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.04.222. Accessed 17 Feb 2019.
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