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"Problem" Students
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C76



Joined: 13 Jun 2003
Posts: 113
Location: somewhere between beauty and truth...in Toronto. ;)

PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 5:58 pm    Post subject: "Problem" Students Reply with quote

Hi All,

I’ve got a question for you re student-teacher relations.

I have a job for a few weeks, tutoring ESL. My student seems to have taken a liking to me. I don’t know why, but that’s hardly the point. He has made comments regarding my appearance, etc.

Several days ago, I was furious: My student had the gall to ask me whether or not I have a boyfriend. Internally, I shot back, “What the bleep does that have to do with my being your teacher?” However, I managed to transform my reply into something along the lines of “I don’t like personal questions”.

Today, he mentioned some crap about how I look. Furthermore, @ the end of our session—I teach in the mornings—he offered to drive me home. I politely declined.

I’m not nearly as upset/scared as I am annoyed.

Once I reprimanded him after one of his comments. He said “This is Canada. You can say what you want…” I said, “No you CAN’T.” Mad

This guy is not a little kid, or even a teenager. As I said when I emailed my cousin today, his behaviour has finally gotten on my “last nerve”.

To those who have dealt with similar students, do you have any suggestions? I have a few ideas of my own regarding how to handle the situation. (In a professional manner, I assure you.) Still, I guess I’m posting this because I’m ticked. I'm frustrated and need to vent. I also want an answer to the eternal question “What’s his problem?”
Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad
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khmerhit



Joined: 31 May 2003
Posts: 1874
Location: Reverse Culture Shock Unit

PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a student in Cambodia who asked me to lunch, very unusual for a Cambodian girl. She wasnt a private student, and no i didnt take advantage of the opportunity. It didnt take much to guess her intentions, however.

How fare are you from TO? I suspect the work is picking up now (tho i cant find any myself!) Do you know Hansa at Yonge and Eglinton? They often have vacancies...
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Capergirl



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 1232
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had similar problems with male students, if they can be called "problems". I do think it's flattering that some of them are so taken with me, but at the same time, I want to keep my relationship with them on a professional level. I do not date students. My way of dealing with it is basically by not making an issue out of it. For example, one of my students last year - a young man who is a very talented artist - did a portrait of me. It was very artistic and quite beautiful, but I was not wearing any clothes in the drawing. Confused It wasn't pornographic in any way, though. As I said, it was quite artistic, but it made me very uncomfortable. I smiled, thanked him, and took the picture home with me. It is hidden in a dark corner somewhere now. Wink Another student decided that I was the woman for him and a few months ago he sent me a long, heartfelt email to drive home the point (a point which I had gotten long ago through the many "hints" he'd given me). I made it clear to him in a roundabout way, without ever saying anything about him and me in particular, that I don't date students and that I am currently too busy to get tied down by a serious relationship (i.e. marriage, which is what he wanted). He got my drift, no one suffered much embarrassment over the situation, and our teacher-student relationship remained intact until his graduation this June.

I haven't had to deal with any form of sexual harrassment from students, so I've been lucky in that way. Nonetheless, it's always uncomfortable when students try to change the nature of your relationship with them. I don't really have any advice, C76, other than to say that perhaps you could find a way to discuss teacher-student relationships with your student and casually mention that you do not date students. If he continues to press the issue and you are uncomfortable teaching him, perhaps you will need to find someone else to teach him in your stead.
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khmerhit



Joined: 31 May 2003
Posts: 1874
Location: Reverse Culture Shock Unit

PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
a young man who is a very talented artist - did a portrait of me. It was very artistic and quite beautiful,


Hows about a new avatar, CG? Wink
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Capergirl



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 1232
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 1:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Naked avatar, Khmerhit? I don't think the mods would go along with that one, but thanks for the "helpful suggestion". Laughing

C76 wrote:
Once I reprimanded him after one of his comments. He said “This is Canada. You can say what you want…” I said, “No you CAN’T.”


I meant to respond to this comment earlier. I have heard similar statements from students. I always tell them that just because you can say something, that doesn't mean you should. Wink
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Wolf



Joined: 10 May 2003
Posts: 1245
Location: Middle Earth

PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 2:37 am    Post subject: Re: "Problem" Students Reply with quote

C76 wrote:
Several days ago, I was furious: My student had the gall to ask me whether or not I have a boyfriend. Internally, I shot back, “What the bleep does that have to do with my being your teacher?”


Well, I might not be able to help out as much as a naked drawing of Capegirl Shocked Wink , but may I ask where your student is from?

Many of my students in Japan and some of my students in China have had no problem asking me about my marital status, girlfriend status, etc. I've gotten such questions from both genders. Many people precive the West as completely open about absolutely everything (thank you, TV, movies and internet Rolling Eyes ) and so I think there are some who do not realize that many of us would rather not answer such questions.

I also have had all sorts of (less than comfortable for me) offers of help from students of the opposite gender. I wasn't always sure of their motives, but I made clear (just by my behaviour) that a student helping a teacher would not be synonymous with a romantic rondezvous.

I don't know for certain but perhaps - and I'm just throwing this idea out I could be wrong - some misunderstanding is taking place. You might try remiding your student that in Canada there are certain things that one cannot say to - or do with - a teacher.
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Roger



Joined: 19 Jan 2003
Posts: 9138

PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not to appear churlish, but to us guys your problem is one that we deal with differently, I suppose.
Maybe for a guy to have the attention of a female focused on him is more rare and therefore more flattering than it may be for a female... and precisely this may be why we feel western females are, ahem, a little stand-offish.
It is not rare for students in East Asia to display more than an ordinate personal interest in their male teachers (speaking of my own experience). Female expats, on the contrary, seem to complain that they do not spark off the same amount of interest in their students.
This is true both of college students (who are under duty to refrain from romantic involvements with each other!) as well as from "more mature" students. So, what is the conclusion?
Perhaps as teachers, we should accept that we expose ourselves to a very large extent, especially so as expats in foreign lands. Local people are more curious about us (and we about them). We are a kind of public figures and have to serve as role-models. That may mean that we sacrifice a bit of our privacy upfront by informing our students what's in it for them and for us, and what's not allowed.
My answer is not tailor-made to your problems as a teacher in Canada, yet I am sure what I have to do is equally true for you. Many of my students are bored, lonely, emotionally starved and disorientated. Some girls have been known to go to extreme lengths in pursuing extracurricular activities with me. There was this one that always snuck into my evening class after the attendance sheet had been filled in (by an attendant of our training centre), so she could save paying the tuition fee. After class, she would talk to me. I had to shake her off. I told her I had a partner, but she would simply follow me.
One night, she actually had followed all the way to my home and knocked on the door at 11 p.m. That was the moment I had to be highly undiplomatic.
It means that no matter what I say in front of my students some - but not all! - may try to play by different rules. It is 50% up to you to discourage adventurism. The other 50% are opportunists that exist anywhere in the world. You know how to deal with them, I am sure!
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Capergirl



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 1232
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roger wrote:
Not to appear churlish, but to us guys your problem is one that we deal with differently, I suppose.
Maybe for a guy to have the attention of a female focused on him is more rare and therefore more flattering than it may be for a female... and precisely this may be why we feel western females are, ahem, a little stand-offish.


I think that this is an uncomfortable situation regardless of gender. It is flattering to the person receiving the attention (male or female), but only to an extent. The truth of the matter is that this behaviour is inappropriate and if the situation continues, it could become an annoyance (and much less flattering). I can certainly understand C76's frustration with her rather aggressive student.

Being the teacher puts us in the power position of this "relationship" we have with students. In my mind, that means a romance is out of the question - does that make me stand-offish? I think it actually makes me professional.

I've never dealt with this situation in Asia with students (most of them were children), but I did have similar problems with male teachers and even with one of the directors in South Korea. Those "problems" crossed the line into the Canadian definition of harrassment. It wouldn't have done me much good to explain to them that, in my culture, such behaviours are inappropriate. Not when they were seeing movie starlets dropping their clothes at the blink of an eye. In Canada, I feel that I have more control over this kind of situation. If I were being harrassed by a student, he would cease to be my student. Male teachers and bosses would never, in this day and age, harrass a female teacher so that is a situation I do not deal with here. It's certainly something I think about when contemplating going to Asia next year.

I do find it interesting that Western male teachers in Asia are getting the same kind of unwanted attention from female students. As flattered as you may be, you must feel the awkwardness and discomfort that go along with it. Talk about a "turn of the tables". Wink
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Cobra



Joined: 28 Jul 2003
Posts: 436

PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wear a wedding ring and tell my students that I am faithful.
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Capergirl



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 1232
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does that work, Cobra? Very Happy
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Cobra



Joined: 28 Jul 2003
Posts: 436

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

YES!

When they ask about my wife I explain we are only separated while I teach at this uni. I carry a picture to show them. Actually I introduce my fictional wife in my first day introduction because the problem is so common. I cut it off on the very first day.

I employ up to 10 students for various jobs in and around my home and none of them bother because I made myself very clear that first day.

When I look in the mirror I know without any doubt that the only thing they could be interested in is that trip to a foreign land.
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seriouslydog



Joined: 02 Jun 2003
Posts: 32
Location: states

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wolf,

Do these pants make me look fat?


Last edited by seriouslydog on Thu Aug 14, 2003 1:49 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Wolf



Joined: 10 May 2003
Posts: 1245
Location: Middle Earth

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No.
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C76



Joined: 13 Jun 2003
Posts: 113
Location: somewhere between beauty and truth...in Toronto. ;)

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You guys are wonderful!

Thanks for all your hints and experiences. It's comforting to know that I'm not the only one who's dealt with this...

Interestingly, a few months ago when I was a TESL student, I found myself developing a crush on some of my ESL charges. Mind you, I didn't do or say anything inappropriate. I sort of crushed from afar... (Recently I told a friend about these new incidents. I said I was sure that God was giving me payback. Wink Perhaps He is. I hate karma. Confused )

Wolf, my student is East Asian. I gather that asking bold questions is a common practice. (I've heard this from new Asian-Canadians, visitors, etc.)

As for any misunderstanding, I can see that happening. I'm fairly open and sweet with everyone. My boss has already been alerted. When we first spoke about my student, he suggested I try a more businesslike approach. (And please don't dog my boss. He's a great guy. We're practically buddies. And I was thinking about implementing his method anyways...) Quite honestly, I know the type of world we live in. I know very well that certain people might take my demeanor the wrong way.

Indeed, one day last week, I tried using my new "attitude". My student was surprised. He said, "You mad at me or something?" I briskly said "No", and continued with my work...

A naked drawing, Capergirl? Ick. Creepy.

And I said "No you can't" re free speech in Canada because I was incredibly flustered. Embarassed

Here's a lesson for you all: Be wary of giving your students a writing exercise where you let them scribble down whatever is on their minds.

This proved to be my first mistake.
Rolling Eyes
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Capergirl



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 1232
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

C76 wrote:
A naked drawing, Capergirl? Ick. Creepy


Shocked It really was a very beautiful, artistic drawing...you know, strategically placed hands and all (note: I did not pose for any such drawing). There was nothing pornographic about it, I was just uncomfortable with the whole thing because he was my student. Confused

C76 wrote:
Here's a lesson for you all: Be wary of giving your students a writing exercise where you let them scribble down whatever is on their minds.

This proved to be my first mistake.


Great advice. I will definitely try to avoid that. Wink
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