Integrating Personal Life With The Classroom – Positive Or Negative?

In my past education training, I’ve been cautioned to keep my personal life out of the classroom. This, of course, is understandable, as certain things can get misconstrued and there are even legal issues between what is ‘school-related’ or ‘home-related,’ especially with topics like religion or faith.

But what about hobbies? Interests? Passions?

This ELA Socials & Science teacher, Abbie Williams, talks about how she bridges the gap between her experiences and the classroom experience. Her story is fun and inspiring, but I’m curious what you think.

Should she share so much about her personal life? Is this helping or hindering her students? What argument, if any, is there for keeping teacher lives separate from the education setting?

“My social studies students are often regaled with stories of places I’ve visited in Europe, North America, and Asia. Showing them photos and sharing my experiences with them makes it all the more real. I want to inspire my students to explore beyond the boundaries of our city. I know that my photos and stories have made history and travel look more accessible to them. If I can do it, so can they.”

— Abbie Williams

In this post, “From Across the Oceans and into My Classroom,” Williams talks about how she takes her traveling experiences and connects them with classroom content. For example, showing real lif ephotos of glaciers, volcanoes and rivers to her earth science students, or ‘grammar fails’ from local signs and businesses. She’s also used pictures to test students, or told stories to give them behind-the-scenes information on a place or region.

“Whether you’re traveling near or far, show your students the “real life” version of you and “real-life” examples of what you teach,” Williams says to close her piece. Her excitement is tangible, even through the text.

I’m curious, though, what do you think? Is this valuable for the students? Should there be a bigger line drawn between what’s shared and what’s too personal for the classroom?

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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