Why High School Relationships Are Teachable Moments
by Guy E. White on 26 November, 2014
Should teachers educate students about the woes of dating?
Students kiss in the halls. They cry at their desks. They text incessantly. They stalk. They are stalked. Love ensues. Pain follows. How are educators supposed to be involved when their students become involved with one another? Here are my thoughts.
As a high school teacher, I see students fall in and out of love every day. As a father, I feel for these kids. It’s hard to see their pain. Being the age I am now, I can look at them and see how crazy simple life was back in high school – but I also remember, and see, how insanely painful falling in and out of love can be.
What should a high school teacher do when they see their students going through or flirting with potentially painful dating situations?
Here are some of my rules:
Rule #1: No matter what, it’s hard to be a teenager.
As an adult, it can be hard to look back on my teenage days with much grace: it’s my nature to forget how truly difficult and confusing life was as a teenager. When I’m working with students, I try to always remember that there were many, many times that the whole world felt like it was going to crumble.
Rule #2: Telling a student you notice their pain is better than giving advice about their pain.
Chances are, your students are just like you. When you are going through a painful situation, you probably want someone around you to be present, awake, and curious about how you are feeling – you probably don’t want someone who is throwing advice at you while ignoring your feelings.
Rule #3: Their life, their choice.
The nature of working with students is that we come to respect them (at least on some level). We want what’s best for them. Even the most challenging student gets some of our compassion, and with that, we want them to succeed. Sometimes, the hardest thing can be to let students walk down a path you know will be painful and not say a thing. In the end, it’s their life and their choice.
Clearly, there are times when we as educators must become involved in helping students. However, much of the time, it’s left to our judgment as to when to interfere or offer our opinion.
What rules do you use to decide when to act?
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