With a heavy heart I type this post. I had a student who overstepped into my personal boundaries, made me feel very uncomfortable, and I decided to reach out to my other expat siblings and help them if they are going through a similar situation. It feels really awkward to have someone invade your life where they shouldn’t and I don’t want anyone to experience what I did. I’ll keep my situation brief because I don’t want to talk about it much. I just want to dedicate this post to helping others who may have had similar experiences. Basically, I had a student who would talk to me often, and I believed was excited about English… Until they started showing up at my office everyday.
The behavior this student exhibited could very alarming to some people. They didn’t look me in the eye when speaking, they would talk at me, they would approach me from behind, and they believed I was their friend.This student constantly asked for my email and I gave an email I don’t really use and this student began to try to correspond late at night. I never answered the emails and then the student ventured to find me on social media.
Personally, I just didn’t like the way this student spoke so casually to me. For most of my life, I have always given utmost respect to my teachers. I have never addressed them as anything other than Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Professor. When this student started speaking to me as such, I decided enough was enough and they were getting the wrong idea about me. Just because your teacher is friendly and personable, does not mean they’re your friend.
I want you all to know, you deserve your privacy. Foreign teachers at public schools in Asia are often looked at as the clown, the friend, and usually won’t be taken seriously. This could give students the wrong idea. It all depends on the teacher, but some people like this role. Others want to be more private.
Your private life is not meant to be a display for your students if you so choose.You have every right to keep your professional life from your social life. They don’t have to intermingle. So what should you do if you have a creepy/persistent student?
What should you do about social media?
This should be a no-brainer, but here’s the deal. If you’re on social media, you have a choice. You may remain anonymous by putting everything on private, but if you’re trying to grow your YouTube channel, blog following, etc. you must be conscious of what you write. You also have to be conscious of what you post because if your students do follow you, they will talk about it to their friends and it will get around your work. Depeding on what you feel comfortable with, don’t friend students on Facebook. Some people don’t really go on it so it doesn’t matter, but if you’re like me and you love it, don’t friend them. Trust me, I’ve heard horror stories where pictures have been circulated. This makes you lose your professionalism and respect. It’s not pretty.
How should you handle the situation if it makes you uncomfortable?
You should immediately go to a teacher you trust and tell them about the situation. If you’re not comfortable in your language abilities, ask the teacher you trust to talk to the homeroom teacher. On the contrary, If you know the student’s homeroom teacher and are confident in your language abilities, talk to them. Don’t let the problem escalate and give you anxiety. You have every right to feel comfortable in your work environment and students can very easily make you feel uncomfortable if you have a friendly personality.
What should you do if the student disregards their homeroom teacher?
I would say the next step would be is to talk to the student yourself. Kindly and calmly explain their behaviors are making you uncomfortable. Explain you are their teacher and not their friend. Be firm and professional.
What happens if the student ignores your warning?
By that time, the higher-ups should be brought in. Your supervisor should speak with the vice principal and explain your situation. The higher-ups should know what behaviors are being exhibited by the student. Hopefully by then, the student will stop. If the problem persists, calls will most likely be made home and the higher-ups will decide what to do about the problem.
There are rules in place to protect you. Most people are not that heartless to let something like this continue. The simple answer on how to deal with a persistent student is to take care of the situation as soon as possible. Talk to your coworkers, talk to your friends. Make sure you talk about your feelings even if you feel embarrassed. A persistent student is not your fault. Do any of you have experiences like this?