'Sup, Reddit-heads? (That's probably not a real term.)

Back in November, I had what I felt was an odd experience. Something that could generally be considered to be out of the ordinary, something that wasn't really appropriate, something uncomfortable and hopefully not to be repeated. Commenters here and friends in my daily life were all horrified (and mildly entertained - because let's be honest, also kind of funny in an oh-my-god-did-that-REALLY-happen way). No one ever suggested that I should've ignored the situation. No one ever shrugged it off as a normal rite of passage. No one ever seemed surprised that I asked the student involved to leave.

Until two days ago.

Two days ago, I got two comments. Anonymous comments, of course, because why have the balls to leave your name and real email address when you can hide behind the secrecy of the internet? Yes, I'm anonymous too...sort of. But not in the same way, I don't think.

The comments haven't shown on the post because I manually approve comments that are added after a post has been up for four days, and frankly I haven't wanted to post these two. But the first said this:
Oh, the SHOCK, the HORROR, a kid feels an attraction for boobs!!! That's totally unheard of!

Be glad that he asked first, when I was a kid I never did, I'd just go ahead and feel the land it as if it was my property, and people wouldn't take it too seriously either, after all it was just a kid!

Regarding as to why the kid would think the answer would be different, well, when you're young and inexperienced those things don't hold that much value and every subject is as natural as any other (which is how it should be, but people like to complicate).
Really. Reeeeeeeeeeeally. Is that so, Anonymous Ass #1? You used to just go up to women and feel them up? If you're not a registered sex offender these days, I can only assume you've gotten real fucking lucky so far and it's just a matter of time.

Then came AA#2. Same day. #2 was less dickish, just...well, just stupid:
How is this weird? I'm sure you're not the first teacher to get that question, and he's not the only kid who ever asked. He's a kid damnit, kids get pushed into all kinds of stuff by their friends. I can't understand you asked him to leave. you should have had a talk with him instead so he would learn it was not ok.
Y'know, maybe I should've just let him stay. We could've sat down and had a cozy little tête-à-tête about the situation. And then in the end we could've both had a good laugh about the misunderstanding. Except, wait. I was ALONE AFTER SCHOOL WITH A FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD BOY WHO'D JUST ASKED TO FEEL ME UP. (This is where I'd use that sarcasm mark if I had it, just in case my AAs don't get this either.)

And, uh, spend about 13 seconds Googling and you can find bazillions of examples of inappropriate student/teacher relationships. Weird how I didn't want to end up allegedly in one of them (again, sarcasm mark!). Homeboy learned it wasn't okay; I just wasn't the one to explain it to him because I needed to protect myself first.

I couldn't figure out why a three-month-old post was suddenly getting all kinds of attention. So I went to my trusty Google Analytics and found that on Saturday, 537 people had visited my site. FIVE. HUNDRED. AND. THIRTY. SEVEN.


On a normal day, I get maybe 20 or 30 visits. On a good day, 50. Not 500.

Turns out my little post got picked up and posted by someone on which I guess is a thing where people submit links they like and other people....go look at the links?

Anyway, a gentleman (I'm guessing....) named SputnikKore submitted mine. Interestingly, the consensus on Reddit is that I'm a wacky overreactor; so it goes, I guess. But to clarify.

It's not that I was surprised that a kid might THINK that; I'm not naive and I understand that boys think about sex with any number of people. It was that I was STUNNED that he would ASK that out loud. I kind of can't believe that I need to say that, that I need to explain that I had to have him leave to protect myself from the appearance of impropriety, and that it was most appropriate for someone other than me to finish the conversation with him about why it was not okay.

I always thought that most people get it, that they understand what teachers deal with and that they sympathize, and probably most people do. I'm going to assume that the handful of clueless Reddit commenters are in the minority. Anything else would be too depressing.

And it's good for me to remember that although I have a small following, it could grow. Anything I put out on the internet has the potential to get picked up and explode. This was just a small puff of smoke, but another time, I could have a crater blown into my semi-privacy.

(Image credit to sklathill)


Rachel said...

Be warned, this is going to be long. Wow. I can't believe some people thought you overreacted!! I just cannot imagine...SERIOUSLY s/he would have sat down w/ the kid and explained why that was inappropriate? Yeah, that wouldn't be awkward or asking for a lawsuit. And obviously your AP didn't think it was the wrong way to handle it!! I went back and looked at what you said to him, and I don't see how you could have done it any better. You told him you were uncomfortable and that it was inappropriate, then asked him to leave. You didn't immediately jump at him and bark GET OUT!

I agree that they missed the entire issue. The issue is that he asked an authority/mentor figure, not just that he wanted to touch boobs, dumbasses. Ugh. Some people. Apparently all those people want their sons to have intimate conversations about what kind of touching is appropriate with whom, etc. with a near-stranger and NOT them, which is creepy.

That is so insane! Hope they haven't gotten under your skin. Why did that person wait until NOW to post it on Reddit anyway?! haha obviously I am getting too emotionally invested in this. Know that you've got a lot of teachers at your back ;)

luckeyfrog said...

You did exactly what you should have. You did tell him why he needed to leave (he'd made you uncomfortable). He did need to leave! (I've been told even with elementary students that it's not a good idea to be alone with them- even when they HAVEN'T asked to touch your chest!)

Perhaps at some point it would have been good to sit down and explain it, but NOT alone after school with no one around. And I agree that it might be better for a counselor or other teacher to initiate the conversation. Wanting to touch a woman is completely understandable, and I suppose it was more polite to ask than just grab, but the fact that most students do not ask shows that most students realize there is an obvious and necessary boundary between teacher and student.

If you would have stayed, the boy could have fabricated a story about something inappropriate happening. You could lose your job, your license, and your reputation. If you hadn't reported your side of the story first and then a boy decided to brag a fictional story to his friends, someone would have questioned why it wasn't reported, "if that's all that happened."

I'm a new teacher, and we've been told time and time again- if in doubt, report it to someone. Just in case, document it. Tell someone. Have it on file before you NEED to have it on file. Maybe to someone outside of education, it seemed like an overreaction- but not to me.

teachin' said...

Thanks, guys! That's what I thought already...but it's nice to have it confirmed by others. MUCH appreciated.

"I'm a dreamer but I ain't the only one Got problems but we love to have fun" -K'naan, "Dreamer"

I teach eighth grade Language Arts at an urban school. My kids kick ass and will change the world. I want everyone to know.
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