Students ask questions, questions and more questions about your personal life! Being an elementary teacher gives you a little hint of what it’s like to be a movie star who is hounded by the paparazzi.
It’s only natural for your students to want to know more about their favorite teacher. But where’s the line…and how do you avoid crossing it?
My students have always ended up knowing the names of my children, my pets and some of my favorite things. I personally have found that the willingness to share these personal tidbits helps them buy into me as their teacher and classroom leader more quickly.
What do your fellow teachers think?
I raised this issue on my Facebook page and here are some of the excellent comments left by your fellow teachers.
Amy: I absolutely believe in making a personal connection with students by letting them know who you are. My students not only know my family members' names but they get to meet them during the school year. They also know my favorite foods, holiday, etc.
Cynthia: Just the other day, one of my students asked if my daughter knew how many of her stories I shared with them! My students become my kids. It makes me more approachable if they know something about my life. It also means they are more willing to share their life stories with me… and some of them really need to.
Sarah left this awesome comment:
Which generated this reply:
KayLynn: I did have a student who once thought the staff room must have bunk beds in it for all of us live-at-school teachers! I think students feel a deeper connection with their teacher if they know more about them. It also makes your classroom feel homier!
Erin: Showing them that we're real people outside of school helps them to see what's important to us. They're always interested in what I wear, how I do my nails and makeup, and how I'm doing in bowling.
Colene: They want to know that you are someone who cares about them and their education – in other words, they want to know if they can trust you. It also helps them bond with you as their mentor.
Jennifer: I think this is great and I do always share some things about my family life. My first graders are always so excited to see my daughter or son somewhere and call them by name.
Tips for personal sharing
If you are not naturally an outgoing person, you may wonder where to begin. Remember, your devoted followers (your students) are a pretty forgiving audience! They don’t need a ton of details about your life, just enough to give them something to giggle about and tell their parents when they get home from school.
Here are some guidelines:
Don’t make it all about you; provide snippets of your life as you invite them to share about theirs.
Bring pictures of your family at the beginning of the year. Bonus points for pet pictures! Kids LOVE to know about your furry friends.
Set guidelines for what is appropriate for them to know and let them know gently when they have gone too far in their questioning. What’s generally OK?
- Family member names and ages
- Favorite things
- What you did over the weekend/summer vacation
- What inspires you
About the same things you’d share with a casual acquaintance.
Tip: Sharing what you did over the weekend turns into a great conversation starter if you have a Monday morning meeting!
And a final idea: Bring your family members to class if you can, if only for a short Q&A session. But they need to be ready to be treated like rock stars!
A community built on sharing
Why is sharing of personal details so powerful? It comes down to basic human nature: we share personal details with people who matter to us, people with whom we feel a connection.
“Feeling a connection” is exactly what you want your classroom community to be based upon. When we allow others into our personal lives – even a tiny bit – then we are being a little vulnerable to them and this naturally earns their trust.