do not touch students! - ProTeacher Community





daizey11 daizey11 is offline
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do not touch students!
Old 11-04-2013, 09:51 AM
 
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I am going to begin subbing the first of the year and I ran across a handbook for a local district. Reading through, I noticed 3 times it said do not touch the students. I understand that coming from a preschool background I am used to hugging and loving on the children almost as if they are my own I wont be able to do those things, but handshakes, pats on the back, etc not allowed?


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Old 11-04-2013, 10:47 AM
 
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I always assumed that it meant do not touch them to control them or get them to do what you want as a form of discipline. I shake hands with students all the time and occasionally do a pat on the back.
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Old 11-04-2013, 12:16 PM
 
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I know what you mean....there has been a change to the rules where I work also whereas there was no mention of this before in my employee handbook but now it is....I worked at a school last week and literally placed a paper between myself and a student because they were so close to me, this was a kindergarten class sometimes they will just rush right up to you and grab you and the more you back up the closer they get. It's sad that I never had to be concerned about this before. Even when a bunch of them come up to the desk and walk up to me I'm finding myself making sure that they stand in front of the desk where there is some distance there.
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best practice
Old 11-04-2013, 12:36 PM
 
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I would touch students any differently than a professional adult would touch another. If you feel you must hug the should to shoulder sideways one is best putting as much distance as you can between you. handshakes are very welcome at my school and everyone does that even student to student.

I would never push or refuse a hug from a small child but after about kindy age I avoid them. Even the littles I usually give those while standing which naturally puts distance.

Better safe than sorry.
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Old 11-04-2013, 12:40 PM
 
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keep it simple.
i work in the high school and i touch students shoulders if i am trying to walk behind them so they don't slide their chair into me, i touch a shoulder for their attention, i will sometimes touch the top of their arm, i will touch shoulder and go down tot heir level when they are putting heads down, i pat their back, i shake hands. Now when asked for a hug and i often am (yes in high school) i always hug if asked or offered out in the hallways where there are video cameras and you do a teacher hug where you don't embrace very close, etc. I get a lot of special ed kids who ask for a hug in the halls... i can never refuse unless i am sick and i always tell them.


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Appropriate Contact
Old 11-04-2013, 01:29 PM
 
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Hi daisey11:

I think handshakes, high-fives, and pats on the back may be appropriate at times to build rapport with students. However, you are smart to question physical contact with older students as in many cases it may be misinterpreted.

Personally I don't do hugs or pick up students or do anything of that nature just to be on the safe side. Hugging and loving on older student's is not appropriate especially as a substitute. Like someone else said better to steer clear of that. You are an authoritative figure and preschoolers and school age children are at different stages of development therefore you cannot expect to treat them the same.

Plus, as a substitute you are in and out and are basically a stranger therefore it is definitely out of the question.
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Needy Kids
Old 11-04-2013, 01:52 PM
 
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The kids in my district are so needy that yes, they will ask for hugs even if you're the sub for the day and they just met you! Some will even just run up on you and fling their arms around you. For the little ones grades K-3 I'll usually just accept the hug (what else is there to do? It would be cruel to push them away) but for the big ones grades 4-8, high school, I'll turn to the side and extend my elbow out and say, Hugs for home! And then extend my hand for a high five or fist bump. That usually works and then they know not to ask or try to hug me again. Handshakes are also fine.

I generally don't do pats on the back unless I'm trying to get their attention so I can get by; like in the hallway. Some of the little ones like the kinders and firsties like to hold my hand but I rarely do that. I'll only hold hands if I have car duty after school and I have to escort them to the parking lot or playground. That makes me nervous because I have had 'runners' before so when I have little ones I hold the hands of the ones who are skittish until they are safe with their parents.

Last edited by Mercury; 11-04-2013 at 03:05 PM..
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:38 PM
 
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I don't give kids hugs but I am big into high fives and hand shakes. If a kid wants to hug me, I'll let him/her do so and give a quick hug back/pat on the back and then move on. I do a lot of verbal encouragement. If a kid wants to hold my hand I'll let them, but it's never something I initiate. Most kids who will offer hugs or want to hold hands are in kindegarten, and at that age I think it is OK.

There was this one time when in a middle school, a girl who was really upset and who I knew well wanted a hug so I let her hug me and patted her on the back/gave a quick hug and moved away. I don't think that was inappropriate. Hugging girl middle school students is definitely something I do not do, this happened in one particular situation and I don't think any of the students or staff saw that as inappropriate. It was years ago so I probably would have heard about it by now.

But yeah, you can't be too careful.
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Removing judgment?
Old 11-05-2013, 08:59 AM
 
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I suspect in many cases there is room for professional judgment that might be "off the record." Personally, I tend not to initiate touching... But I don't act like the kids have a disease either. I think part of our task is teaching appropriate behaviors in a world where there is much to fear but also a need for compassion and connection. Age is a factor but so is the circumstance. Surely the safest stance is no touching, but what do we lose when we take it? A fourth grader crying her eyes out during a writing unit because she is writing about the death of a pet is probably deserving of a reassuring pat on the arm or shoulder from her classmates and her teacher. Particularly when she explains, "I have to do this."
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Old 11-07-2013, 06:22 PM
 
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I sub 7th a lot. They like to hi 5 a lot. That knid of touching is fine with me. But I always find the hand sanatizer after.
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