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The Half Hug

half hug

Many teachers have a hands-off policy where they never make any kind of physical contact with a student. They believe that if they maintain this policy that nobody will ever have reason to falsely accuse them of any kind of crime. I respect this policy, but it’s not my style. I like to wake up sleeping kids by patting their arms, to give high-fives to students who do well, and when they are overcome with grief or happiness, they might attempt to hug me.

The problem is that a hug is rather intimate, and can bring up awkward situations like the correct cheek distance, appropriate squeeze strength,  or the problem of chest-brushing. My solution is the half-hug. A half-hug is not an outright rejection of a child who comes to you with open arms. It’s less uncomfortable than a full hug. It has little connotation that can be misconstrued, and a back pat adds that universal sign of platonic affection* so that there are no mixed signals involved. It also leaves a free hand for self-defense or sipping coffee.

In today’s day and age, it’s prudent to take measures of precaution: never be alone in a room with a student with a closed door, never discuss a student’s physical appearance, and if faced with a hug, a half-hug is acceptable as long as it is executed correctly (see diagram), and in public.

* If you did not know, a hand patting your back during a hug signals absolutely no romantic interest. Take note, those of you who are single. If you are dating and the date ends with a hand patting your back, it’s best to move on.

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About celinatinsley

Ms. Tinsley is a high school English teacher, who has been in the classroom for 15 years. Give or take one or two. She lost count. She also hasn't been in the same classroom for that long. She leaves occasionally to go home and sleep so she can dream about a job where she earns respect. She loves her students but not in a creepy way. And when I say "love," I mean "likes enough to go to work most days." Although she did call in sick today. And it felt good. And she might do it again tomorrow. But otherwise, most days are pretty good. Rather, not that bad. Well, mostly worth living. She has published a book entitled, "Teachers Talk Smack," available through Amazon.com. She has garnered much critical praise with this original work full of charming illustrations and humorous anecdotes about the joys of teaching. Well, she has garnered one review from her best friend at work on Amazon.com. And the book really is the opposite of the joys of teaching. She is currently working on her second book about teaching. By "working," I mean roughly brainstorming in her head.

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