F is for Friendships at School
There are a few teacher Fs I’d like to write about, but I’ve got to choose one: Friendships at School. This is one of the things I find very interesting amongst my students.
I have watched so many friendships evolve in my almost 10 years of teaching; both amongst staff and students. Student friendships are beautiful to observe when they work, and really sad when they don’t.
In my roles as Form Tutor and Subject Teacher over the years, I have especially seen the building and breaking up of more friendships than I can remember. Indeed, I have been part of many discussions with parents, teachers, and students on this issue. It is one that makes many parents and students anxious, especially during the transition from primary to secondary school. It is also unfortunately a worry that plagues many students throughout their school years and beyond.
It is so lovely when friendships are beneficial to all who are part of it. They really can be the making of some young people, inspiring positive thoughts, feelings, and actions.
It’s lovely to see students working together …
… supporting each other to set and achieve helpful goals …
… encouraging each other to aspire to be more …
… challenging each other to give and do their best …
… inspiring each to behave and achieve …
These kind of friendships are so lovely, really nurturing, and very attractive; they promote kindness and generosity in so many ways.
Parents want them for their children because it makes them better people and it’s one less school related palava to worry about. Teachers want them for their students because it makes for better lessons and nicer classrooms. Schools definitely want them to thrive because they make for better pupils and calmer playgrounds.
Then there are those friendships that are parasitic and destructive. They turn
… lovely students nasty …
… polite students rude …
… conscientious students nonchalant and lazy …
They cultivate insecurity, aimlessness, and time-wasting. Parents cry for help about them to teachers on parents evening and over the phone. Teachers hope their students don’t end up in them; and schools definitely try to prevent them. All who care for those involved in these kind of friendships discourage them.
Friendships that build up are wonderful, but those that tear down and destroy are so sad. I regularly tell my students some things I wish I knew I knew in secondary school:
I realised after I left secondary school that my school friends and acquaintances, and even enemies, are such tiny parts of my life. None of these people, however lovely even, were a guaranteed part of my future. They definitely were not worth getting into trouble for, or negatively impacting my future for.
I went to 3 secondary schools altogether and the one I spent the most time at was one with over 2 thousand girls. I was in the same Form Group with about 60 of them for 5 years and in boarding school with hundreds.
Guess what? I can just about count how many names I remember on my 10 fingers; I think I remember a few more faces. The same goes for the teachers who taught me at this school. Even more, I haven’t particularly kept in touch with anyone, including my closest friends since we said our goodbyes decades ago. These doesn’t take away from the friendship we had, indeed I remember those closest to me fondly. Life happened to all us as it does, and it took us on differing paths.
The negative consequences – then and later – of any poor choices as a result of bad friendships just isn’t worth it.
Many students of course see, when they get to A level or college, that they can do without friendships they thought was their life whilst they were in secondary school.
My best wishes to parents as they navigate the friendship road with their children. I really hope that my students will take care to cultivate advantageous friendships for themselves … that those who are caught up in bad friendships will have the courage to break out of them.
There goes one of my teacher Fs – Friendship in School for now.
Do / Did you have any struggles with friendships in school?
#AtoZChallenge: Considering Teaching from A to Z in April 2015
E is for Exam Musings