It’s an undeniable phenomenon, that your own interests and life happenings become intricately connected to those of your students. After a few months, day after day in close company, you form an intimacy, the special relationship between teacher and student. Some are more closely bound to you than others, but even those who are more distant have their pull on your thoughts. One can’t help but take the students’ achievements and obstacles home in some form or fashion at the end of the day.
Just how much should you open up and let in? I don't believe I have a true answer to that question. My honest answer at the present time - as much as is necessary to get to know the student as a whole person, the affects of their lives as they exist outside of the classroom. As much as is needed to form a student-teacher relationship with trust and ongoing understanding as the foundation.
Students' background stories fill in gaps in the teacher's eye, paint a broader portrait, providing valuable information in what factors should be considered in your daily pedagogical approach, but also in how you view and treat each student as an individual. I would argue that forming personal, trustworthy relationships is at the heart of differentiated teaching. I believe embracing the personal components of teaching means seeing each individual and meeting him or her where they are, creating individualized and agreed-upon goals set against realistic yet high expectations. This is an idea that I easily embrace, and with this awareness I continue to strive (and struggle) to form these transparent and supported relationships that influence my teaching approaches and give each student a catalyst for loving to learn.