I wanted to follow up on everyone’s thoughts of what Ping-Yuan and Josh brought up, and how this could apply to Heather’s (and all of our) teaching. Of course this is a personal decision, but how much do you think personal / non-academic contact outside of class helps students to succeed? I was trained as a high school teacher, and we had it drilled into us that you do NOT have any personal connections with students outside of class and you severely limit any personal information you share with students. Josh appears to have the opposite view (within limits), but Ping-Yuan seems to shy away from this.
In my classes, I try to show that I am a human being, and I try to understand students when they have problems, but more and more, it seems as if we are expected to act as counselors as well as teachers for our students. I have colleagues who have accompanied suicidal students to the hospital, and last semester I went with a student to meet with OUPD because of threats of physical violence made against him by his parents.
Of course, we want all of our students to succeed, and students do work harder when they like their instructors. But at the same time, when should we try to keep a traditional, student-teacher relationship and to what extent should we try to break into the more radical realm and treat them less as students and more as peers / equals?
Several times, I have had students identify with me more as a fellow-student (even though I look young, I am 20+ years older than they are!) and several have tried to use the “buddy” relationship they were trying to foster to get preferential treatment (extensions, get out of assignments, hints on tests, etc.)
Especially for those of you who have experiences teaching at smaller institutions, where this kind of student interaction is more institutionalized, do you feel a more personalized approach such as this encourages student success? In addition, as our merit review (at least for Group II) is increasingly based on how well students like you, to what extent should we focus on building interactions with students OUTSIDE of the classroom?
Please let me know whatever you think! (Don’t make me get Josh’s Taser!)