The Danger of Being a Good Teacher
i just watched a show called “Obsession: Dark Desires”. The episode revolved around a special education teacher and one of her students. She taught in a high school and one of her students, named Todd, became obsessed with her. He did not want anyone else to teach him. He refused to leave her classroom. He yelled at her. He harassed her at home through phone calls and threats. Ultimately he decided she needed to die because she was no longer his teacher. In the end, he drove his truck through her house, nearly killing her daughter and her dog. it was very scary.
Over the twenty-one years i have been a special educator, I have had many close relationships with students – some of them have spent time at my home or accompanied me to special events. I grew up watching “Welcome Back, Kotter” and decided then that if I was ever a teacher, I wanted my students to be that comfortable with me. My students were always welcome to have my cell phone number in case they needed to reach me – and I have had two students who have called me when they ran away, enabling me to go pick them up and take them home. I had one family that would call me and ask me if i could come over to get the daughter out of bed so she would come to school. I’ve had a student slash my tires. Another two or three have threatened to kill me. Primarily, though, my students have loved me and felt comfortable with me. And I have always been proud of that. This show, however, made me wonder if perhaps these are not the best policies…
As a teacher, you walk a fine line. Your students need to feel respected by you if you want respect to be returned. But how close is too close? I will really have to think about that now.