Should you share personal information with children?
To a point, yes.
A good teacher is not afraid to reveal pertinent information to students about himself or herself to show them that he or she is human like them (Straw, 2003).
But this needs to be appropriate. No one should be sharing how stressed they are and how little sleep they’ve had or how much marking they’ve got. Children don’t need to hear this.
If you want to share some of your private life that is positive and relevant then do so as it can establish rapport with children but a line has to be drawn.
Some teachers choose not to say anything about themselves and unsurprisingly come across as distant. Some choose to overshare, egos take over and lesson-time is compromised – class time isn’t the ‘me show’.
Sharing tales, anecdotes, stories and lessons learned are all good because you can use them as learning opportunities to illustrate a point but that’s it. Share something about yourself such as a hobby or maybe a family story but don’t go too far into you personal life and remember to protect it.
It’s not hard for pupils to find out information about you via social media which is why your private life has to be safeguarded. If you do use social media then don’t use your name so that children (and parents) can just do via a search and find you. Use a pseudonym.
Children will like it when you share a little something but they don’t need to know everything and they shouldn’t be able to mine it from social media either. Keep politics and religion well outside of your teaching – these need to be off-limits.
Disclosure of any irrelevant personal information is highly unprofessional and could be something you regret.
You don’t have to be ‘Top Secret’ about everything but there is confidential information that stays where it is – school communities are the one place where things go viral quicker than a ‘share’ on social media.
It’s your choice whether to share details about your sexuality and this could feed into educating pupils understanding that no textbook would ever achieve. For example,
I could not be more proud to be a member of staff at @LonghillSchool.
We are an inclusive school which will not tolerate discrimination in any form.
— Miss L Holland (@Miss_L_Holland) August 2, 2018
Straw, D. (2003). Let students know you’re human. Community College Week, 15 (140, 4-5