The young, male teacher dilemma

Let me preface this post by saying I teach middle school U.S. History and Spanish. This is my fourth year teaching, and I started right out of college.

This is the last week of class before Christmas vacation, and my students never seem to disappoint me. Every morning, they act like it has been years since they have seen each other as they squeal in excitement. They walk into my classroom full of energy in the early hours of the morning, and I try to reach their same level of excitement, with a few cups of coffee, of course!

Recently, one topic has been on my mind: compassion. In the society we live in, teachers must be weary of teacher/student relationships, and male teachers, specifically, must tread lightly around female students. 

I try to verbally tell and visually show my students how much I care for them on a regular basis. I praise them continuously, and I want them to know that they mean more to me than the 45 minutes they are in my classroom; however, I don’t think my students view my compassion as much as I try to show it. As a young, male teacher, I have to find ways to show my compassion without (for lack of a better word) being creepy. The middle aged, female teacher down the hall calls her students “sweetie,” and she pats them on the back. I don’t feel that it is appropriate for me to call my students “sweetie,” nor is that word in my regular vocabulary.

How do male teachers show their students that they care for them? Maybe it is in the kindness in my voice, the patience in my actions, and the warmness in my smile. Maybe it is in the way I sarcastically kid with them. Maybe it is in the way I inquire about their weekends and the way I can connect with them through pop culture references. Maybe it is in the way my classroom door is always open, and I never kick out students after school.

At the end of the day, what I really want my students to know is that I do care for them, even if I show it in unique ways.

One thought on “The young, male teacher dilemma

  1. On a slightly related tangent to your post…It’s so interesting to consider the gender differences in academia – and different standards for men and women employees. This is true at the college level too, where I teach. Just recently at a holiday party, a man employee was trying to scoot past a female employee in a tight space. Instead of saying “excuse me,” he placed his hands on her hips and gently moved her to the side. Knowing this individual, I know he certainly didn’t mean anything offensive, but I couldn’t help but recognize the different standards for men and women. If a man was standing there instead of a woman, would that individual have moved the man in the same way? Probably not.

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