Socratic Seminar: It’s Okay My Parents Never Got Married

It’s only natural for teenagers to inquire about your dating/marital status. While some may be clever enough to check for an engagement ring, others may mistake a cocktail ring for a committed relationship. n some cases, the absence of a ring carries no weight in finding an answer to the question, “Miss O., do you have kids?” As a young teacher, my opinion on sharing personal information with students has remained that same since I began my career. Share – nothing! I find it unnecessary to encourage an already hormone – crazed adolescent and find that they are more intrigued about my dating life than the old lady matchmaker singing in the church choir.

There’s always the argument that students need to see their teacher as a human being. To that, I say, there are other ways to do this besides starting your science lesson with, “one time my boyfriend…”:
1. Family and friends is one of the easiest things for students to relate. Share your holiday plans or even a fun appropriate activity you plan to do over the weekend.

2. Your hobbies and interests. Let them know that you stayed up to watch the NBA finals or that you’re bummed about your football team losing the Super Bowl. If you’re a competitor of hot dog eating, cup stacking, riflery, I don’t care what it is, share your successes and challenges. Let them know you have commitments outside of teaching.

3. We all have bad days, sick days, tired days. I’m upfront with my students when I’m feeling a bit off. If you command enough respect, they’ll react accordingly. If you don’t, well you’ve got other issues to confront. Allowing them into your life may open the door for them to approach you when they encounter a rough day.

Now that we understand there is a lot of information to cover before you give up your relationship status, here are my final words. Once you divulge the information the follow-up questions ensure and really, there’s no turning back. Just like you regret listing “in a relationship with Evan” when it turns out that Evan isn’t so great after all, you’ll regret sharing the information when your students ask why “Mr. Evan” is now “Mr. Andy”. So, according to the wedding guest etiquette enlisted by my best friend, “no ring, no bring”, I say, “no rock, no talk”. This will save you from an awkward conversation when “Do I have kids??? I’m not even married yet!” is followed up with, “It’s okay, my parents never got married!”


2 thoughts on “Socratic Seminar: It’s Okay My Parents Never Got Married

  1. I agree about not sharing much with my students. My response to most questions is “its none of your business” (I’m a very snarky teacher, LOL ;D). Whenever my kids ask me what I do for fun I always tell them “math”. I’ve said it so much that they’re really beginning to think I’m some sort of robot, devoid of feeling, which is pretty funny.

    I like your comment about commanding respect as opposed to demanding it. It’s totally my philosophy too. This was fun to read and I can absolutely relate.

    • I like your style! I use that response as well!
      I think some of the oversharing comes from a lack of confidence. The things I hear colleagues say affirm that some people share their life because it makes them feel better, almost like they’re bragging to their students because they can’t relate to their adult peers. Maybe I’m just being too harsh!

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