Throughout my Marlborough career, I’ve always wanted to create strong relationships with my teachers in order to feel comfortable going to them with anything I need. However, there is a difference between developing friendly bonds with teachers and getting up-close and personal with them. Here at Marlborough, I am unfortunately able to say that appropriate student-teacher boundaries are not intact, which can make for a very unprofessional school environment.
I understand that the students at Marlborough like to be friends with their teachers because the staff and faculty at the School are welcoming and genuinely kind people. I encourage this kind of friendly connection, which enables your teachers to know who you really are. If my teachers only thought I was a student and not a person with real thoughts or feelings, the year would be treacherous. I want not only a teacher, but someone to go to for help and guidance when I’m struggling.
However, teachers can get too personal with their students by sharing about themselves in inappropriate ways. I do not mind being close to a teacher to the point where I can openly share things with him or her and feel safe about being open, but there comes a point when a teacher’s being open is not okay.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that a teacher approaches a student to that he or she had a huge fight with his or her spouse, stormed out of the house and couldn’t get any work done. Not okay. Teachers need to leave personal details about their lives at home, as students are not here to become therapists or friends. We are impressionable, growing teenage girls. Teachers need to keep this in mind.
It should be okay, though, for a student to open up to a teacher, as it is sometimes much more difficult to confide in parents or siblings. If you don’t feel safe at home or have no one to turn to, school is where you go. Students can go to teachers for advice, but teachers shouldn’t reciprocate. Though I realize that this is a double standard, it is the way things need to be in order to maintain a professional yet supportive atmosphere.
When teachers inform students about their family issues, their personal drama and their romantic lives they violate a boundary. Teachers are supposed to be professional and keep their personal lives personal.
I do believe that it can be beneficial for a teacher to talk about his or her personal life within a professional, educational context, as long as it will help his or her students. If a teacher wants to help a student understand something or give advice with a personal anecdote, for example, it is understandable and should be permitted. Sharing beyond these boundaries is inappropriate.