Another weird thing happened to me this week, which made me think even more about the fact that I am “letting go” of my old life as a teacher and tentatively stepping into a new role……..this new role being “Volunteer Coordinator” which I guess has a lot of the same qualities as teaching. You have to coax, cajole, teach, recognize, assess, reward to some extent. All of those things.
This week two of my old students asked to be my friend on “MySpace”. How the heck did they find me? I wondered this as I checked my settings, and dummy me, I had it set so that everybody and their mother could look at my profile. Not that I care too much, I don’t use my own picture or my own name………well, it’s a nickname but nonetheless.
I can remember fussing at my kids about MySpace and how dangerous it was and how they should have all the settings put on the highest amount of privacy. And here I am just out there for every creep on Earth to see.
I was so proud of both of them though. It was their own picture (Bad students! Bad students!) but one said she was from Zimbabwe and the other said he was from Hawaii. Good going guys, throw those “Dateline NBC” creeps off your track. At least *something* I said sunk into their brains.
I felt like they were teaching me a lesson, “See?! You have a MySpace too! And you’re doing it WRONG!” and the other half of me felt like they were reaching out. I had left them and so they were looking for me. “Where did you go teacher? Where are you?”
(Side note, yes, I do still call them “my kids” even though I don’t teach them anymore. They were in my classroom for 180 days dammit! One-hundred-eighty days for 86 minutes a day. They will always be “my kids”. I will always be their teacher.)
Which makes what I have to do that much harder. I have to deny them friendship, hit that little “Deny” button. And what’s worse, I can’t let them know why. MySpace won’t allow you to send a message unless they’re a friend. Unless they somehow find my blog they won’t know it’s not because I don’t want them to be my friend, I just feel it’s inappropriate. In this crappy day and age, a teacher can’t really be a friend because mouths start wagging and folks start accusing. It’s not Mayberry anymore. I’m their teacher, and while I *do* feel that a form of friendship is a part of that, here it just can’t work. I’ll always be there to listen and help if I can, but sadly, this just isn’t the right context and never will be.
It makes me so sad to have to do this. Why can’t they have a button that says, “Teacher” or “Mentor” or “Listener” instead of “Friend”? Then I could stay in touch with them, be that second parent, and fuss when I needed to. That’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in letting go of this career, is letting go of my ability to immediately HELP them. I never in my life thought it would be this hard…