We’ve all had that one super cool teacher before. The one that uses a bit of teen slang and seems to remember back when they were a stressed-out student who wasn’t really sure where life would lead them. The one that cracks jokes in class and is frankly a bit more lenient and amiable than the other austere teachers.
I mean, after all, aren’t those the kinds of teachers that we tend to strike a liking towards as students? They’re fun, easy to talk to and know how to take it easy on us hardworking students. What’s not to like, right?
The only aspect that I urge people to be careful of when forming a bond with any teacher is to be aware of the line between teacher and student. Although the teacher could be a super great person, school districts have composed strict codes against inappropriate teacher-student relationships for a reason.
Now I’m not saying that by having a couple conversations with your favorite teacher, you’d be putting yourself in a precarious position. Nor am I implying that misconduct will always occur if you’re too familiar with your favorite teacher. I am simply stating that no matter how cool and fun the teacher, the line is planted there for your own protection. Both emotionally and physically.
To fully understand my story, I would have to make a couple things clear to you. This story does not include any sexual misconduct. The relationship that I held with my teacher for about a year and a half was merely similar to that of best friends. Nothing more than what best friends are like, somewhat of a mother-daughter relationship.
This is a story of emotional investment and the unfair crossing of lines and the burning of bridges.
This is my goodbye to a relationship that has convoluted beyond repair. This is my closure.
For my own privacy’s sake along with the privacy of my school, I will not be disclosing what school I attend nor any other names and details that could implicate anyone.
However, in the hopes of clarity for the reader, I will disclose that I am a sixteen-year-old female teenager in her junior year who goes to a high school with roughly 500 students. For a fairly small school, we only have eleven or so teachers and nine classrooms. Like I said, small.
I also ask this of you: as you read my story, I ask for you to put yourself in my shoes. Put yourself, as best as you can, into my mindset.
I did not write this story to gather sympathy or to bring myself into the light of being seen as the sole victim. This whole situation resulted in two victims and two perpetrators. She and I were both the victims and the perpetrators. We created this mess and I write this for all to read in the hopes that I will be freed. After all, the truth does tend to set us free.
With all this in mind, I’d like to begin at my childhood for a quick second to better explain the story. I am adopted. I grew up knowing I was adopted. Despite my gratefulness and any other positive feelings that may stem from knowing I was given a better life through my adoption, all my life, it feels like I’ve dealt with the aftermath and the pain from knowing this simple fact.
To know that you’re different at seven years old and that your family is your family but not your family.
To say the least, it was a lot for me to comprehend. Many other events occurred throughout the years, my self-esteem lowered, insecurities grew and my mind grew ever so convoluted.
The older I grew, I searched for more and more people who would love me unconditionally to make up for the people who gave me away out of conditional love. The primary people who were thrusted at by the end of the stick were teachers.
Fifth-grade teacher, sixth-grade youth ministry pastor, eighth-grade English teacher. All past female leaders in my life around age 35-40 to look up to as a mother figure.
I just wanted to feel wanted in the most irrational way by these people who didn’t know the first thing about me.
On a different note, I suppose that you could say I’ve always been a bit of a teacher’s pet. In fact, looking beyond this strange quirk of mine, I still enjoyed the company of all teachers. That isn’t to say that I was a complete friendless loser. I simply liked conversing with adults and getting to know them. They were fun and they weren’t full of drama. They were stable.
My first year at my high school, I had a teacher for zero period. Let’s call her Ms. Doe. She was a married Asian woman around 45 years of age. As I sat in her class, my tragic quirk of wanting to feel as if I was wanted struck again. I hung around after class to have little conversations.
Some time passed, a semester went by and gradually, my mental health took a nose-dive. I chalk it up to being at a precarious age and starting to question my existence more and more. My adoption was a huge part of me and every day, I felt like a waste. I hated myself and every day, I spiraled into this hole of self-harm and anger towards myself.
It was April of 2016 and I could no longer act as if I wanted to be alive. Then, I had this crazy thought of last resort. I thought, ‘Maybe if I talk to Ms. Doe about some of my feelings, this pain might ease up. Maybe talking about it will heal me a little.’
So, I took my shot. I walked into her classroom during lunch one day and asked her if I could talk to her because I felt like I could trust her.
I told her about my adoption, my life and the deepest parts of me.
The more I talked, the more she listened and seemed like she cared. At first, it was great and I felt like I had finally found someone to open up to. It felt like we connected emotionally. I just didn’t feel so alone anymore. This became a weekly thing where I’d come in and we’d just talk about random things from how I was feeling to what I thought of school to what shows I had been into lately. This weekly thing became an every other day thing. I came in during my free period and we talked during her down times while she was teaching.
Then one day, I showed her the deep gash in my arm and she automatically took me to meet the principal. From there, I was transported to be interviewed by mental health professionals who then took me to a psychiatric ward. Then, I was transported to a psychiatric hospital. I received treatment for a week and returned to school.
The psychiatric ward was somewhat indescribable to me. It was quite an experience that I don’t tend to speak about.
I wasn’t angry that she informed the principal about my mental health.
While it is true that at first I felt betrayed, with time I did understand the big picture. It was her job on the line.
Upon my return to school, things continued mundanely as I still spoke weekly with Ms. Doe until summer break arrived.
On my private Instagram account, I allowed Ms. Doe to follow me and I followed her back. It was our way of connecting. At the time, I had thought she was so cool for always being there for me.
Over the summer, I felt as if my mental health had been put on pause. No school meant no anxiety and no people to bring me states of discomfort. I was safe in the comfort of my own home and the people I chose to surround myself with. But, all good things do come to an end.
As sophomore year commenced, my mental health began to feel weary again. With this state of trust that had been accomplished to a certain degree between Ms. Doe and I, I had reached out to her once again as the school year began.
She was still my teacher for sophomore zero period.
However, the only problem was that she felt that her duties were over with. She thought that my mental health had been cured and that I was on the straight and narrow path to success.
Yet, as the clingy adoptee, I wanted her to accept me and I wanted to be close to her. I wanted her to care. It broke my heart that she felt like she had done everything she needed to regarding me. The first two months of school were a tightrope, where I would be in her classroom with my friends during breaks to talk.
Whenever I tried to talk to her again, she would tell me to find some friends.
I don’t exactly quite remember where the turning point was.
All I distinctly know is that by mid-October, we formed a bond closer than ever. She would give me rides home from school and buy me food. We would go get food together and spend every school day talking together about random subjects.
She loved to gossip and I did as well. I would talk to her about all the new things going on as of lately and she would talk crap about her coworkers.
As you might be able to perceive by this, the entire dynamic of our relationship had turned to friendship. We exchanged phone numbers and texted, called, FaceTimed. She even came to my adoption organization’s fundraiser gala. We were like best friends.
I know it sounds so hard to believe. A student and a teacher FaceTiming? I mean, that’s got to be unheard of. Yet, that’s exactly what we did. We’d sit on the phone for hours at a time talking about life and different things.
I won’t lie and say that there weren’t any advantages to her being my teacher because in all honesty, there were. She gave me occasional extensions on classwork, special passes on whatever misbehavior I conducted and tutoring help. However, while she did give me occasional special attention because I was one of Ms. Doe’s favorite people, she was still extremely hard on me at the same time.
Ms. Doe expected a lot from me. She expected me to be the best because she saw the potential. She also knew that she favored me, so sometimes she would crack down harder on me just to make it seem that she were being extra fair.
This was our relationship. Gossiping and getting food together. We were inseparable.
It was around this time that I met my biological mother, who decided for a second time that she did not want anything to do with me. This ripped a hole in me and I needed someone more than ever.
At the time, it genuinely felt like Ms. Doe was there for me.
As most relationships do, it grew toxic and twisted.
We were this dynamic duo on the outside, but underneath, our relationship was rotting at the core. Due to the fact that we were so close, we felt like we could speak in any way that we felt to each other. If one of us were hurting, we would try to hurt the other.
For instance, one day in the middle of class, Ms. Doe and I were talking in our free time. I made a joke about her accent that was not appropriate for the time and place. I momentarily forgot my place as a student and spoke as if I were her friend. She lashed out at me as anyone would have done had I insulted them.
She yelled at me in front of the entire class. As the class fell silent, I tried my best to turn away as I felt my face growing red. Then, all of a sudden, I was crying in the middle of class.
Ms. Doe, upon seeing me shed a couple of tears, grew angrier. She raised her voice at me. The whole class averted their eyes to us.
It was my mistake and I take full responsibility for my inappropriate joke. I know it’s all about knowing the time and place. If it makes any difference, I didn’t mean any harm by what I said and had it been only the two of us, the joke would have gone by without any issues.
The problem with that exact situation is that I should never have felt comfortable enough to make the joke in the first place. Along with this, Ms. Doe should never have felt comfortable enough to put the whole class on hold to reprimand me on a deeper level than the average student. The whole scene puts the student, teacher and the entire classroom in an awkward situation.
That is one reason out of hundreds why the line exists between teachers and students.
With this as a prime example, I would like to segue into other instances where our friendly relationship became a burden.
Often times, Ms. Doe and I would get into many fights. As we fought, many unkind words and exchanges would be thrown about.
I remember, once, there was a meeting for an intro to an AP course after school one day. The meeting was held by the teacher that Ms. Doe disliked the most at the high school. Now, usually I stop by Ms. Doe’s room after school to have a quick chat before I head home or get a ride from her. For the sake of wanting to feel some sort of independence from our constant relationship, I had decided to go to the meeting beforehand. I was standing in line to go in to the meeting with my friend when Ms. Doe stepped outside from her room to close her door and made direct eye contact with me. She saw that I was standing outside of her hated co-worker’s room and glared at me before she went back into her room.
After the thirty-minute meeting, I stopped by her room with my friend. I was greeted with instant anger and she told me that I wouldn’t be helping her with the project for my grade anymore.
The precise thing to know about this situation is that Ms. Doe had asked me to film and edit a video for her staff meeting on Friday. I had been out of the country for a week and had missed school, so I had needed to make up a video project anyways. She had told me that the staff meeting video would cover the points for my missing video project, so I had agreed to help.
The video was to be due by Friday and it was only Wednesday. You can imagine my surprise when she told me that she couldn’t trust me to do anything right, all because I stopped by for an informational meeting for an AP class first. We still had two days to finish the video and I had spent the morning filming for her.
Out of spite, Ms. Doe had then told me to check my grades. I checked my grades to find that she had put in the video project as missing. This dropped my grade by nearly 20% and placed me from an A grade to a C grade.
After I finished the video and turned it in to her by Friday regardless of the drama that had ensued, she reverted my grade back to its original state. However, that is little the point of this example.
She, later, even admitted to me that she was a bit jealous that I was standing outside her archnemesis’ room. Her words, not mine.
My problem with what had happened was that she had felt that it was justified for her to take personal issues between us to manipulate my grade instead of communicating. I never wanted to be close with her for the grades. Yet for her to drop me to a C from an A simply because she didn’t like that I was standing outside of her hated co-worker’s room was too much for me.
It was at this time that I realized how corrupt our relationship had become.
This relationship was not something that should ever have gotten to this point.
Before the end of sophomore year, we did resolve that issue. But, when we came back from summer break, I tried to ease her out of my life. I did this because I knew it was better for us in the long run. No one was benefitting from that relationship anymore.
On a regular basis, we spent an hour laughing and having a great time, weeks hurting each other and months angry and resentful towards each other.
So many events have transpired of petty caliber between us. It seemed like we were just trying to spite each other in any way we could. She hated that I was easing out of our friendship. Once, out of anger on the way to a school field trip, she took off on the bus with the rest of my junior class. She left me behind on a field trip to get back at me. In turn, I would boycott her classroom and ignore her to get back at her.
We strayed beyond the acceptable teacher-student relationship and I do regret it. Despite the fact that she had helped me through some things and I had been there for her through some things as well, at the end of the day, she affected my mental health more negatively than she did positively. She truly hurt me a lot as I’m sure I may have hurt her.
She broke me more than she fixed me.
We were a mess, no matter how many great laughs we shared and no matter how close of friends we seemed to be.
Boundaries exist between teachers and students to spare everyone from getting hurt. The more professional it is, the less likely that someone will get hurt.