Does Your Student Like You? (my thoughts as a teacher)

Image result for teacher crushes
Source: Scoop Whoop.

…that’s the question.

Especially if you’re a teacher, you might have thought of this question over the years you’ve been teaching. And especially if you’re a young and/or conventionally-attractive teacher, it might be all the more apparent that at least one of your students is bound to develop romantic feelings for you.

As an English teacher who’s been teaching abroad in France for almost four years, I admit that I’d been quite oblivious to students liking me, up until last year during my first year of teaching at the university level. Prior to that, I was teaching middle school to high-school students, who in my eyes were super young…and I didn’t teach many hours, so it was probably rare that they would see me enough to develop any feelings.

Now, I wouldn’t consider myself good-looking, but I’m told that I look young. I’m in my mid-twenties, but I’ve at times gotten mistaken as a first-year undergrad by administration. While I haven’t told my students my age (nor am I planning to impart it to them), I’m sure they know that I’m not much older than them, which can be a problem if boundaries aren’t established.

What kind of boundaries, you might ask? Simply put, I’m talking about discipline: I made the mistake of not establishing set rules during my first year as a university English teacher, and that was a nightmare as many students didn’t really respect me, let alone acted like total assholes. Despite being close in age with them (I’m talking no more than five to six years apart), it’s a matter of being firm, even mean, in the beginning of the year, so that they know that you mean business.

…and that’s how I think students start to like you. Paradoxical as it sounds, it’s not being nice that’ll earn you respect: it’s by being firm and unapologetic in what you believe is right. Sure, students might dislike you at first, but putting them in their place (especially as uni students) will earn you more respect in the long run. Plus, having an authoritative air to you is an attractive trait. Not totalitarian, but at least a strong front.

Any case, I’ve noticed since starting my job at the university that there are a few students whom I’ve suspected like me. Whether it’s platonic or an actual teacher crush, I find it rather flattering, although I consider them like children. Quite endearing, actually, as we both know that nothing’s going to happen. Here are some signs I’ve noticed when I suspect a student likes me:

1. Staring— I get this A LOT. I’ll say, though, that staring doesn’t always mean that someone likes you. It can also mean that they don’t understand you! Especially since I’m teaching English as a foreign language, I’m sure some students, who are weak in English, are staring because they have no idea what to do.

I guess what differentiates this type of staring with actual mutual interest is when they look at me when they think I’m not looking. What they don’t realize is that I have peripheral vision, so I can sense that they are looking. And when I look at them, they quickly avert their gaze. Kind of cute, although I admit at times it makes me uncomfortable, particularly when they should be doing work. No distractions, please!

2. Blushing– I think this is a more-obvious sign that a student can like you. Again, it depends on the situation: after all, blushing can also be reserved for embarrassment or just pure shyness.

But the times when I talk to them individually during class activity, I see their cheeks turn pink before their entire face follows. Some even try to hide their face with their hands, turning red as the classmates around them start noticing, even teasing them. Might be from being singled out (which I know is never an ideal situation), or maybe from actually getting my attention? Who really knows?

3. Trying hard– This one particularly applies to students who are rather weak in English, but all the same want to do their best in the subject. It’s an admirable trait, whether or not it’s because they like me or because they want to do well to graduate from university. Seeing them slave away during in-class assignments, and staying until the end of exams to make sure they got everything correct are awesome traits that I wish upon each and every one of my students (even if it’s not always like that in reality).

4. Being funny– Now this one is pretty tricky. I don’t like class clowns who disrupt the class (and I’ve had a few of those), but rather I like the ones who are goofy, but not for the sake of the classes’ approval, more so just to get me to laugh, at least smile (as I tend to keep a neutral face on during class).

In fact, I have a student whom I’ve had for two semesters. While not the best in English, she never fails to make me smile with her goofiness, as it’s usually harmless and doesn’t distract much from class. Sometimes, it’s a matter of brightening up someone’s day!

5. Being clumsy– Vague as this sounds, I guess a synonym for this is just being awkward in front of me. Could be something like stuttering, freezing up when I talk to them, or staying after class to talk to me about something irrelevant. Again, it’s endearing, and it’s obvious that they can’t hide it well.

One incident I remember was just a couple of weeks ago when my students had to do oral presentations in English. There was one pair who took turns presenting their subject and, while one of the girls was presenting, the other was leaning against the whiteboard, waiting for her turn to speak. She tried propping her hand on the marker/eraser ledge, but slipped, so she had to steady herself. As small and subtle that movement was, I thought that was kind of adorable. She was also unbelievably nervous, as she rattled off her part of the presentation at lightning speed. At least she tried…

…any case, these are just some signs I’ve reckoned that show that students might like you. Once again, they might not necessarily be 100% accurate, but they are good indicators!

Let me know if you’re a teacher and had a student crush on you– otherwise, have a good day! 🙂

— The Finicky Cynic

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