Teachers: don’t be a person to your students. Be an authority figure.
Yes, the bleeding-heart bunch of readers are up in arms about this, but this book isn’t about how to get piles of thank-you gifts or sentimental letters from former students…it is about surviving a profession which is decaying like a abscessed tooth.
That said, not being a person to students helps quite a bit. Your first name is number one: you don’t have one. I never tell students my first name and when they discover it, I never confirm it. In fact, I get angry if they utter it. Only once have I had a student call me by my first name. Seconds later I was standing about two inches from his face, and he never did it again. My first name is “Mister.” That’s all they ever need to know.
Keep school and your home life absolutely separate.
You don’t have hobbies. You don’t have children at home. You don’t like to kick back with a beer and you don’t mow the lawns on the weekend. You don’t worry about finances. They aren’t privy to a single aspect of your private life. You are the eternal educator and that’s all they need to know.
I have told every class since I started teaching that, if they see me outside school, to simply wave. Do not come over and say hello or try to have a conversation. I always see faces fall like depressed dominoes, but then I follow it with a veiled joke, “You guys will be sick of me anyway.” I feel bad hurting their feelings, but it creates the appropriate atmosphere.
I don’t say this to be an ass, although I am sure some think that.
Be aware that a kid’s mind balances two truths. In their subconscious, teachers exist only in school. They never go home, never change into ratty jeans or sit on the porch and crack open Coors Light. Their conscious mind knows this isn’t true but doesn’t like to believe it. If being personable and friendly with students has worked for you, again, that’s fantastic, but I think that’s a rarity.
Better to be a good teacher than a cool teacher.