Biting your tongue and resisting the urge to correct behavior in public is not an easy task. As teachers, we spend our entire day making sure that students refrain from certain things and act in an appropriate way – but outside the walls of the school – anything, it seems, can go.
Making matters worse is the fact that you are witnessing it, AND it is a student of yours at the heart of the problem. Picture it. Sitting at a table in a restaurant, eyes fixed on the menu as you consider the stir fry or the fish, and it happens. The sound emanates from the booth on the other side of the half-wall. The piercing squeal of a child, unhappy, in the first throws of what can only be described as a fit monstrosity.
You glance across – paying particular attention to get a look at the child, while avoiding contact with the parents. You summon your best teacher gaze. You know – the icy cold stare of death and you glaze over your prey and survey the situation to assess your approach. But wait, you’re not at school, and this isn’t your battle. Save your strategy for the classroom, you think. You’re supposed to be enjoying your time off and having a nice meal in a restaurant, right?
But wait, you know that kid. They’re in your class. Oh, it figures. Now you have a choice to make. Do you put on the teacher hat and walk over to the table to intervene – simply by saying hello? Or do you hang you head, ignore the noise and push on with your dinner? Only you can decide.
When I taught in London, England, I had to ride the overland train and city bus to my school – with students for my school. The problem started for me when they chose to swear or acting inappropriately, while I was in full view of what was going on. In this situation, I felt powerless caught between wanting to correct them, and yet, I had no power on the bus with this lot.
Choose your battles carefully. For me, eventually I found a quiet seat on the upper level to avoid the problem. But if I had known the students or felt like I carried weight with my words as a teacher – I would have found my teacher hat. Our brain is always in the role and “teacher mode” is, sometimes, not so easy to shut down.
Have you ever corrected another person’s child in public? If not, how did you choose to handle the situation?
During Neilʼs 9 years of teaching experience, he has taught in London, England; Ontario; public and private schools; elementary and secondary; junior; intermediate; core french; developmental skills; and now junior gifted (grades 4,5,6). He is a Reading Specialist that has been incorporating technology in his practice consistently throughout his career. Neil has recently published his first book entitled “Ignite. Incite. Inspire.” – Examining 21st Century Issues in Education, which is a collection of teaching articles and posts written from January to December 2011.