Sure, many of the students call me “Miss Praxmarer.” But, some call me “Miss Prax,” or “Miss P.” All of the girls I coach at Whitefish Bay High School call me “Prax.”
But last week during class, a student called me “Julie.” It caught me completely off guard.
He apologized immediately and mumbled something about how he just guessed my first name … and that he knows other people who call me Julie (girls I coached last year probably). In response, I reminded him that I am a teacher and that it is not appropriate to call me by my first name.
I found myself wondering if I was over-thinking the situation. It seemed like an accident, but maybe he was actually pushing the limits with me, as many students tend to do with an authority figure? Either way, it caused me to look at my whole approach toward my students and life.
Although I am still only 21 years old, I feel that I’m transitioning into an entirely new part of my life. I am still guilty of watching teen shows like “Gossip Girl” and going to see the latest Nicholas Sparks’ movie. I also know I’m not the only 21 year old that does that. The problem is — so are my high school students. I can actually carry on a conversation about these TV shows or movies.
Is that bad? Is there not enough separation between the interests of my students and myself, even though technically we are in the same generation?
Yes and no. I think it is okay to talk about shows or movies with your students. I think it creates a comfortable setting. Surprisingly, the students who I do talk with pay more attention in class and have shown improvement in their grades. But, there is definitely a time and a place for these conversations.
One of my students decided he wanted to discuss episodes of “The Office” with me during class. I put a stop to that immediately. I told him that, if he really wanted to discuss the new episode, before or after school was fine; but, we wouldn’t be doing it during class time.
Scenarios like this make me wonder: Am I doing something wrong, or is it part of the territory as a young teacher? I’m starting to think it may just be part of the job. I’m 21 years old- I can’t change that. But, I also know that there is a line.
Right now, I try to keep my school life very separate from my personal life. In fact, I sometimes try to avoid places where I might run into my students. This means I might choose to go to a different movie theater from the one they frequent. But, when it comes down to it, I do need to live my life. And I’m not sure avoiding my students is the best solution. I remember running into high school teachers outside of school and thinking it was like seeing a celebrity, because it’s so shocking and rare to view them as real people. I am thinking that, eventually, I may even miss being able to have these peer-to-peer conversations with my students.
Until then, I’ll continue to explore this new territory of teaching and setting boundaries. Should be a pretty interesting adventure.