Skip to content

Professor-Student Relationships: Ethics and How to Relate with Students

Professor-Student Relationships

The professor-student relationship is one of the greatest relationships you will ever have. There is a lot of confusion about how to handle ethical problems in this type of relationship. 

This article will discuss some of the most critical ethical issues facing professors and students that should be taken seriously.

Can Teachers have Relationships with Students? 

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the issue of teacher-student relationships. Some say that teachers should not be able to have any relationship with their students.

Teachers can have relationships with students if such relations are educational or professional to promote learning, teaching, or research for academic purposes. However, teachers cannot have sexual relationships with students. They can only have personal relationships that are within the boundaries of professional codes of conduct.

Professor-Student Relationships

Others argue that having a relationship with an adult student outside of school is acceptable, but only if it does not affect the education process.

Teachers should be able to have relationships with their students. This is because teachers are human beings, too, and we must be treated as such.

Teachers should have a good relationship with their students because it allows them to learn from their mistakes and improve at what they do. 

How a Professor-Student Relationship Should be

1. Respectful

A professor-student relationship should be respectful. The professor is the authority figure in the classroom, and students are expected to listen, learn and follow directions.

A student who fails to respect their professor’s authority can expect negative consequences for their behavior. There are many ways to show respect to teachers and professors in class. This is especially so by virtue of them being your educators.

The professor must treat the student equally, not as a subject or an object. If the professor feels that his power over the student is too great, he should reexamine his attitude toward the student and his role in their relationship.

2. Friends

The friendship between a professor and student is the foundation of any educational institution. The relationship between the two is of trust, respect, and care. A good relationship is important to the success of both parties.

A professor-student relationship should be based on mutual respect, trust, and care for each other. The instructor has a responsibility to treat students as individuals with unique personalities and needs.

4. Have Boundaries

Professor-Student Relationships

The boundaries that should be drawn in this relationship are the ones that allow each party to feel safe, secure, and happy with the other person. 

Either party can set these boundaries, but they will be most effective if both parties agree on them together so that they feel comfortable discussing their needs.

Boundaries can take many forms, but they all serve one common purpose: to protect the safety of all involved in the relationship.

5. Based on Academics

The professor and student should have similar goals and interests so that the relationship can be mutually beneficial. They must be willing to help each other grow in knowledge and understanding because it’s important to grow as a person through education.

A good professor will also help his or her students by giving them opportunities to present their work in front of an audience or gain recognition for creative projects they may have worked on. This helps boost student confidence and decrease anxiety levels, which can have a negative impact on learning.

6. Formal

A professor-student relationship should be formal. The relationship between a professor and a student is very important, and it can be very beneficial to both parties. 

Students benefit from the opportunity to learn from their professors and develop as scholars, while professors get to teach students who are dedicated and ambitious. However, this relationship can only be successful if there is a clear understanding of what it means to be a professor-student relationship.

7. Helpful to Students

The main goal of any professor is to help his students achieve something in their lives. He wants them to succeed, and he wants them to do well in the future. 

This requires that the professor has a good working relationship with his students because one cannot help another person if there is no trust between them.

A good working relationship between a professor and his students means that both parties are open about what they want from each other. 

The student will know what kind of feedback he needs from his professor so that he can improve himself, while the professor will know how much effort his student puts into learning new things and how much progress he makes daily.

8. Be Clear and Honest with your Expectations

Before you begin teaching your class, think about what you expect from them as students. The bulk of this should be based on their performance in previous classes and how much effort they have put into the material. 

You may also want to consider what you expect them to do regarding research, homework assignments, and exams!

Can Professors have personal Relationships with Students?

Yes. Effective teachers can have good relationships with students, but they must be aware of the importance of boundaries and avoid abuse. A good teacher will make a strong connection with their students. They will use their personality and knowledge to help the student understand a concept or solve a problem.

The teacher should be willing to work with the student on issues that are important to them, such as bullying or family problems.

In addition to having a personal relationship with students, teachers should also be able to recognize when something has gone wrong within the classroom environment, such as when students are being bullied or harassed by other students or staff members. If this happens, teachers need to take immediate action to prevent further harm.

Professor-Student Relationship Ethics

1. Honesty

Honesty is the most valued virtue in the professor-student relationship. It is a must for both the student and the professor, to be honest with each other. 

The professor should not expect his student to be dishonest because he has to depend on his honesty in any situation. The student must depend on his honesty to pass the course and gain knowledge from it.

Being honest with each other is one of the fundamentals of a successful relationship between students and professors. It helps them get closer, understand each other better and make decisions that would benefit both sides.

2. Respect

Professor-Student Relationships

The ideal relationship between a student and his or her professor is mutual respect for each other’s talents and accomplishments, coupled with an understanding of the different roles each plays in the learning process. 

This type of relationship ensures that there is no conflict between student and teacher, but instead that both parties benefit from each other’s efforts.

3. Responsible  

The ethics of the teacher-student relationship lies in the fact that each party has a responsibility toward their integrity. This should only be professors having friendships with students and nothing beyond that.

The student must respect his teacher and his rights and learn all he can from him, while in return, the teacher must be guided by a spirit of objectivity and impartiality when teaching. As a result, both parties will benefit from this relationship. 

Professor-Student Relationship Stories

New York Times reported that Harvard University became one of the leading institutions in the US to enforce a ban on professors having romantic relationships with their students. The move came when the panel reviewed its policies. 

Not only professors, but the ban was also the non-teaching staff. These non-teaching staff should also avoid having any affairs with undergraduate students. 

The purses of banning such relationships are to prevent potential exploitation. They argue that student-professor relations may lead to sexual harassment.

Earlier, some other institutions that came up with policies to prevent romantic or sexual relationships were Yale University and the University of California. 

Inappropriate teacher-student relationship

An inappropriate teacher-student relationship is a relationship between a teacher and a student that is not in good accord with the rules of teaching. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • Physical contact between teacher and student is inappropriate.
  • Teachers give rewards to students who do well in tasks or classes.
  • Teachers give attention to students who are better than others.
  • Teachers ask questions to students who are younger than other students in the class or ask too many questions at once.
  • Pretending to be friends with students who do not like him/her, or making fun of them if they do not like the teacher.

How to avoid inappropriate Teacher-Student Relationships

Here are some tips on how to avoid inappropriate teacher-student relationships:

1. Be a Role Model for Students

Be a positive role model for students and treat them with respect. Students want to see that you have integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness. If you do not follow these qualities, then why would they follow in your footsteps?

2. Know what drives you as a Teacher

What makes you tick? What motivates you? If a student can get an inkling of what it is like to be in your shoes, then they will be more likely to listen to your advice and suggestions than someone who does not understand the reasons behind your actions or decisions.

3. Ready for Good and Bad Days

Sometimes students go through tough times in their lives and may not want to talk about it with their teachers at that particular moment.

However, there will be other times when they want to talk about what is going on with them or with others around them who are experiencing similar issues at the same time they are experiencing these issues themselves, so the sooner they can identify what is going on with them or those around them so they can address it ahead of time.