Being vulnerable: stepping into uncomfortable moments with students

The world around us is always changing and things will happen. Currently, we are over a couple weeks out from when the George Floyd death happened. The world has COVID-19 and we are in the middle of another civil rights movements. As a teacher, a major part of our job is help our students process the world around them. We have to bring up the topics of racism, hate and all of us can be the change. I personally believe that this is important.

Why do I need to be vulnerable?

“Vulnerable: susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.”

Oxford Languages

No one really likes to be vulnerable. In a new relationship with a significant other, being open and honest about your feelings is vulnerable. Saying “I love you” to that person for the first time is vulnerable. Having open conversations with your students about tough or sad topics is vulnerable.

As an educator, we have this unique space to speak to these students. We can process information with our students. Currently, right now in the world, George Floyd was murdered by police officers and there are many many more Black Americans killed throughout history through police brutality. There are also other situations that could happen to students. Car crashes, violence, or divorce are just some situations that will affect students. As a teacher, we need to be prepared to process with our students..

How do I be vulnerable with my students?

This starts day one in your classroom. Making sure you build your classroom culture with respect and honesty from day one is huge. One classroom culture aspect that I think is important is having to get to know your students. Everyone tells you to know your students but really get to know them. Making space in your day to truly learn about them and have conversations. I find this is helpful with your “trouble” students. Giving them time to just tell you about themselves. I have done this with kids as young as six to eighteen-year-olds. Sitting down and instead of being upset with them just ask them how their day is going. If your main drive in teaching is your students then they will be the reason you do everything.

If your main drive in teaching is your students then they will be the reason you do everything.

Chloe Allen – The PEHE Teacher

When something comes up that you need to be vulnerable with your students. You have to show them how to be vulnerable by doing it yourself. You can mirror what that looks like from day one. An example of that is willing to step into conversations with students, you can also tell them what your feeling. One note with this is that you have to make sure you have a boundary with this. You want a good connection with students however you are still their teacher.


During tragic moments, also use your resources around you. If you have school psychologists or other community resources, use them! They can be a big help in these moments and give you plenty of other resources to help you and your students.

Overall, it is vital that you are vulnerable and honest with your students. This can help your classroom culture to be better but can also make your lessons even better. Processing with your students helps them feel heard because a lot of students do not feel heard. Let me know your thoughts on being vulnerable with your students.

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