I get letters…
Here’s one that came in to my inbox last night that I read out to my 1oth grader and she agreed, “definitely creepy”. Here’s what this Mom asked:
I have a question about e-mail between high school students and teachers. My daughter’s teacher gave out his work email and work contact information at the beginning of the year. I found that helpful. Yesterday, after finals, my daughter told me that he wrote in her yearbook his personal home e-mail address and a note encouraging her to keep in touch. She is a sophomore. Not a young woman gong off to college. She also told me that he did the same to other girls as well but no boys in the class. They discussed it.
I am finding this a little creepy. Am I over reacting? This man is listed in the phone book so if down the road she wanted to get a hold of him she would not have a problem. I worry that this is his way of having private conversations with my daughter.
I’m usually one to be forgiving and wary of parents misinterpreting situations out of overprotectiveness (something my daughter accuses me of daily!) but in this instance, I have to say that the teacher is most definitely out of line. In fact, even though it’s possible that it would get them fired, I think that my reaction would be to bring this up with the school principal or administrator and ask them to inquire as to the meaning of the gesture by the teacher.
Had the teacher shared his contact info with both male and female students, then it would seem genuinely like a desire to stay in touch and perhaps offer helpful advice and counsel during the summer, but by leaving contact information for each girl, but none for any boys, well, that’s a bit harder to justify or rationalize, I think.
The really great part of this, however, is that your daughter told you about it all and listened to your counsel. You’re doing something right, Mom!
And the teacher? Even if it’s all benign, having their contact info permanently emblazoned in a school yearbook, a book that’s really more for students to build and remember their peer communities than to remember teachers (in my opinion), that’s just daft and quite possibly poor judgment in the first place. Did the teacher not think that parents are going to see this curious message and ask their daughters about it?
I can imagine the conversation…
“Honey? What’s this on page 17? Who is this guy Mark?”
“Huh? (leans over, reads inscription) Oh yeah, that’s just kinda weird. He’s my chemistry teacher and he wrote that in all the girl’s yearbooks.”
“He did? That’s… hmmm…”
Hard to explain that one away as a warm gesture of concern by a connected teacher. Seems more like what they call grooming in the child abuse crime squad, a deliberate attempt by another adult to seem like a peer, like a friend, when they’re not. In fact, teachers need to be extremely careful not to cross this sort of line because, well, it can be easily misinterpreted and it’s just not professional. If it’s all on the up-and-up, then parents should be in the know.
But that’s my two cents. What do you think? Creepy, inappropriate teacher behavior, or nice guy being friendly and poised for a grand misunderstanding?
My advice to the daughter would be to choose not take his advice to ‘keep in touch.’ She doesn’t have to say anything. Just pass over his comment, and when the yearbook is closed, don’t dwell on it.
My advice to the mother would be “Don’t react. Think, then respond.”
I’m a teacher. My students have my email address and some graduates keep in touch (male and female)
I would never EVER hand out my personal email to a student. That’s a given, there’s is zero reason for that to happen.
Sorry if that causes alarm but your girl sounds like she’s switched on so you’ll be right.
I’d report him though