Should a Teacher Be Strict or Friendly with Students? 5 Pointers to Ponder

I am always here for my students, no matter what!  This is my perseverance in reaching out!

I am contemplating how I am to my bunch of learners and how I build a healthy relationships with them. How do they look at me? How do they regard me? That I often ponder the question, “Should a teacher be strict or friendly with students?”

building relationships with students

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Well, I just love the relationship we have built. Perhaps, I really appear as a teacher, a parent, and a friend to them. It’s my way of keeping them engaged and connected.

Let me share with you how I came up with this impression of should a teacher be strict or friendly with students.

Definitely, I am confident that my students and I share wonderful moments both inside and outside the classroom.

Should a Teacher Be Strict or Friendly with Students?

May Teachers and Students Become Friends? Or  Should There Be Certain Boundaries?

Let me tell you a little secret!

Being a teacher and a mother to too many children with varied personalities and attitudes, I always patronize with that perseverance to do the best for them and offer them the best learning experiences. Yes, that’s true, I consider myself as their teacher and their second parent, this keeps me and my students on the same rope!

Nevertheless, I always remind myself of the question should a teacher be strict or friendly to students.

It’s just like saying:

  • ” I am your teacher and I will teach you sincerely”
  • “I am also your friend whom you can trust, but I set margins.”
  • ” I am your second parent and I’m doing my best to be sensitive to your emotional needs.”

Developing strong relationships with my students has been one of my classroom management strategies. I believe in its efficacy and I adore its results.

During my years in the teaching profession, I always believe in the power of teaching with compassion. My students feel that they mattered to me and that being with them is perfect happiness for me as it is for them. I know it deep in my heart.

I remember a colleague who once asked me how I managed to establish good relationships with my young learners despite my very strong and strict personality. I answered simply, “Well, I earned their trust by letting them know that I care for them.”

Yes, I do care about them and appreciate their worth.

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” Alice Walker

For I am a friend to them, I give them opportunities so their voices are heard and they become successful and productive.

One even caught me by surprise when she said, “You received a lot of flowers and chocolates during teacher’s day and your birthday is always remembered by your students even though you are so strict and stern!”

I laughed! And, when I gained composure, I said, “I may be stern but I’m still human after all and my students know about that! The secret? Well, I teach from the heart and I don’t aim for perfection from my students but engagement!”

Teach them well my friend and give them what they really deserve!

#1 So, we’re friends, but I set limits and not distance…

interacting with students

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For me, distance has a negative connotation. How can I understand my young learners if I am not near in proximity?

The process of building a strong and positive relationship with my learners begins on the first day of classes. I make them feel comfortable by making personal connections, but, there’s a but!

I set a line that should never be crossed.

By that, they are very aware that I am their teacher who accepts them for who they are and is very willing to help them and give them advice, but not to hang out with them just like their peers. I set the margins, my fellows!

I really work hard to build a positive relationship with my learners so that even though we’re not in the classroom, they know very well that they are appreciated and their existence has meaning. It’s because we manifest respect for one another.

Because aside from teaching with compassion and sincerity, I reach out to them individually.

I have taught them lessons that will guide them throughout life and one of them is the value of respect. It’s one of the greatest foundations for building positive relationships in the classroom.

I really convey nice words when they are to be given the consequence of their action. I avoid confrontations because I don’t want to stain their emotional aspect. If, for example, one has not completed the outputs on time, the implementation of the consequences might be strict but I should listen to their reasons as well.

As days and months go by and many behavioral problems occur, I made them understand from the very beginning that classroom rules, routines, as well as set expectations are consistent and that everyone should meet them all.

Rules are rules. Also, they should always apply them.  Implementing them to everyone is justice, but applying them to a few is downright unacceptable! Treating my students fairly helps them gain confidence that they are safe under my care and that they really belong.

#2 Teaching the value of respect

Respect captures other qualities such as obedience, self-control, and reverence. This is the string that keeps me attached to my students even though they are not my students anymore as they get promoted to the next level of education.

Mutual respect in the classroom helps me to provide structure to my classroom management. I always believe in its importance in maintaining a well-managed classroom.

Beginning on the very first day of the school year, I set clear and consistent expectations for my students so they will be guided accordingly. I tap my best classroom management strategies to help my students unlock their full potential and develop self-esteem.

National Education Association states that building a good relationship with our students entails treating them the way they would like to be treated, and that is with RESPECT.

Let them be aware of what they are doing and its consequences.

If the classroom is highlighted with mutual respect it will succeed in giving the learners the best place for learning.

#3 My students understand why I’m doing such and such…

When students understand the situation, more likely they will develop self-awareness. Explaining things to them from the start will help them uncover the reason why it happens to them.

Reminding and greeting my students doesn’t mean that I am using the buddy-buddy system. Of course, that is not so! I am just telling them that I am a concerned school authority who truly cares for them.

Hence, I’m very clear with my notion that I am a teacher and a friend to my young learners, but I never distance myself from them. For me, it’s being “away”. I don’t like it. My friendly gestures shouldn’t be misunderstood. That is why I am making them understand every inch of the rule.

Being a friend to my students doesn’t mean I stop being their teacher…

Being a friend to our students doesn’t mean that we turn lax with our classroom management plans. Also, it doesn’t mean that they can stay with you at your table all the time and be involved in casual conversations. That is not how I see it from my perspective.

Although I interact with them, because it’s part of my teaching goals, it should be with a purpose.

If they take the friendship too far and cross the limits you have set, then that’s wrong and they have to understand that too.

As per my experience, this has been my strategy of knowing my students inside out. The more I know them, the more I can be creative with my teaching strategies to be sure that I cater to their diverse interests. I am just making them feel that going to school is not a hassle and isn’t painful at all.

Moreover, I let them know that I am willing to listen to their concerns and to know their interests. Doing so will help me win their trust and confidence which could impact productive learning.

Anyway, a teacher and a friend have different definitions and I’m conscious of that. It just means that being their friend, I am not their usual buddy and peer but I am someone whom they can trust and depend on.

#4 Is it all right to befriend students on social media?

kids in social media

Photo by Yoel Peterson on Unsplash

Well, this is a different idea, really quite different from the relationship we are building in the classroom. I am certainly wise when it comes to this realm.

We do have our Group chat and FB page, but it’s purely for their academic updates, especially now that our school is considering virtual learning.

Hence, for me, we should put a barrier or distance on this one because our personal details should not be an open book to our learners. As teachers, we are being looked up to as their role models, so we should stick to it.

The positive relationship we have with our students in school, be it virtual or face-to-face, should have limits, I should say.

#5 I interact with my students and it impacts student learning.

Interacting with our students could help them build confidence and feel comfortable in the classroom. Being friends with your students could mean having conversations with them that encourage them to open up and express their thoughts.

Doing so can enhance students’ learning experience and increase their academic performance. It helps them create a sense of identity in the classroom as they always feel good sharing their ideas and opinions.

So, let me present my final thoughts!

Teachers and students may become friends BUT, there should be boundaries. Do you know what it means?

We can befriend our students, but we should not be “too friendly”. That is why we should set boundaries, but we should not keep a certain distance from them. Keep good terms and make our students enjoy learning and unleash their productive selves.

This sounds good to me. By doing so, I am making my lessons more enjoyable and fun.

Let me reassure you that building a strong relationship with your learners by teaching them compassionately and by being their friend will make learning more fun! But, just remember, you have to set boundaries.

I know that it’s doable, so let’s carry on!