As teachers, there may be times when we have to speak with a student in private for one reason or another. This is understandable as ascertaining the needs and challenges of each student would enable teachers to better help them improve academically.
Students see us as mentors and our community and school experts the highest moral values from us. In a litigious society, every action or activity taken should be heavily contemplated to avoid any misunderstandings.
Activities like giving a student a simple hug can easily be misconstrued which can lead to the destruction of a teacher’s promising career. Actions like hugging students, or simply giving them a ride can lead to dire consequences for teachers.
As a result, teachers sometimes walk on eggshells around students as a simple accusation is all it could take to ruin a career. For whatever reason, being found alone with a student can lead to suspicion.
While it’s easy to make decisions to protect yourself as a teacher, these decisions may not always be in the best interest of the student. This article will try to answer whether teachers can be alone with students.
Why Teachers Shouldn’t Be Alone With Students
Before we answer the question, let’s first take a look at the reasons why teachers shouldn’t be alone with students.
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Educational institutions have the trust of parents and the community which is why parents are able to leave their children in the hands of these institutions. These institutions are also governed by regulating bodies to ensure they adhere to the standards of the district.
To protect both teachers and students, regulations are instituted at both or either district and/or institutional levels. Teachers are sometimes prohibited from being alone with students irrespective of the situation.
Situations like one-on-one tutoring, counseling, afterschool or recess detention, and make-up tests are seen as risky by some institutions. It’s worth identifying your institution’s regulations governing this before any intentional breach of these policies.
Imagine you’re in your office alone with a student, they come out and claim you did something indecent to them. You try to deny it because you know you didn’t do any such thing.
Unfortunately, your word as a teacher means nothing in this case the school will instantly take the word of the student as the truth and so will the general public.
While students don’t go around intentionally accusing teachers of things they haven’t done, it’s advisable to protect yourself by avoiding such situations.
Not only can you lose your job and your license over a fake accusation by a student, but you could also face jail time. To avoid this situation, it’s advisable that you’re not alone or at the very least, you stay in plain sight or keep the door open.
Having a one-on-one with a student of the opposite gender can be dangerous for teachers as any accusations from a female student against a male teacher would be even more dangerous.
As a result, some educational institutions have regulations banning male teachers from being alone with female students. While female teachers may also be banned from spending time alone with male students, male teachers have the added disadvantage of being instantly seen as predators.
Why Teachers Spend Alone Time With Students
Teachers may be alone with a student for various reasons including helping them with their studies by providing tips, helping with college applications, a student might come into a teacher’s office to drop a paper or to ask permission for an extension.
While there’re multiple reasons why a student a teacher might be alone in an office it’s unadvisable as this comes at a huge risk to the teacher.
Guidelines For One-On-One Talk With Student
Other People Around
Avoid talking in places where there’s no one else around. If a student comes to your office and wants to talk, simply get up and walk with them to the hallway to talk or where a camera can fully capture your interactions.
Most educational institutions have regulations against teachers touching students for any other reasons besides emergencies. Ensure that you put some distance between yourself and the student to avoid unintentionally touching them.
Irrespective of how emotional the student may be over a situation, refrain from touching them to avoid any misunderstandings.
The use of appropriate language is key when speaking to students. Remember to maintain a professional interaction with students by refraining from suggestive languages. Show 100% professionalism in your interaction with students.
Camera In Office
If you have a working camera in your office, you may meet and talk to a student in your office. In the event of any accusations, footage from the camera would enable the institution to clear up any misunderstandings.
If you’re still willing to speak with a student in your office, ensure that the office door is wide open and that people pass by frequently.
Ensure that other teachers or the principal of the institution are aware that you’d be spending some time with a student for a legitimate reason. If your institution has a place designated for interacting with students, you can leverage this to avoid any misunderstanding.
Ensure that students understand your role as a teacher by showing concern appropriately. Trying to talk like your student or treating them like a friend is unadvisable as a teacher’s role is to serve as a role model to their students, instead of a friend.
Treating them like a friend makes it more likely for them to unconsciously behave inappropriately in the middle of a discussion.
Students need healthy adult role models who can demonstrate appropriate interactions. Don’t try to take a parent’s or a friend’s place in their lives. That doesn’t mean we can’t be uplifting and compassionate but be aware of how you show affection as it can backfire.
Can Teachers Be Alone With Students
Yes, although unadvisable, teachers are allowed to be alone with students if it’s appropriate to the situation and precautions are taken. Precautions include avoiding closed doors, using appropriate language, refraining from physical contact, informing a principal, and ensuring you’re not alone in the vicinity.
These precautions may seem extreme, but they’re necessary to protect both the teacher and the student. While most students don’t have the habit of accusing their teachers, it’s advisable that you protect yourself. The impact of any wrongful accusation could be devastating to a teacher’s career.
Are Teachers Allowed To Drive Students Home
Driving students home is another form of alone time with students. This isn’t recommended by most educational institutions unless the teacher happens to be the parent or guardian of the student. To put it simply:
Teachers can only drive students home if they have consent from parents, the educational institution or they’re kin of the student. Outside this, the teacher driving the student risks more than their jobs as they could lose their license and even face jail time in the event of an accusation.
Except in the event of an emergency, any teacher who drives a student home without the consent of the institution or parents risks losing their jobs.
If this teacher is accused of any inappropriate behavior, it won’t take any convincing for the institution, parents, and the public to believe the crime. Save yourself the trouble and value your teaching license and freedom.