Awkward Encounters of a Local Teacher

1 Jan

When I took my teaching position at a local school, I knew that running into my students around town was inevitable. I knew I would see them at the grocery store, at Target, at local sporting events, and I knew that some of these encounters were bound to embarrassing (i.e. no shower, no makeup). So far this school year, I’ve been right about both of these things. What I didn’t really plan for was the sheer awkwardness of it all.

What are you supposed to say, when you run into your students in public? Do you introduce yourself to whoever they happen to be with, knowing that if it’s a parent you’ve probably already met them? Do you stop and chat or do you just wave and keep walking?

These are the questions that I was faced with last night when my husband and I ran into a student of mine at Best Buy. I wound up asking the student if he was enjoying break, telling him I’d see him on Tuesday, and then walking away. Not an unpleasant interaction, but I still felt dumb about it. My student was with a woman, presumably his mom, and I know I haven’t met her before because he’s a student in a class that I just recently started teaching. I knew the second I walked away that I should’ve introduced myself, or at least said hello, but at that point I was already in another aisle and it felt like it would have been even more weird to go back and do it. Now she probably thinks I’m incredibly rude and anti-social.

Or, maybe that’s just how I think she feels. Maybe I’m over-analyzing the situation. Maybe I’m feeling dumb about nothing. All the same, I’m tempted to email her and apologize. But, then again, what if it wasn’t even his mom? *Sigh*

Part of the problem is that I’m still new to this gig. I don’t know the protocol or the unspoken expectations for these situations. My hope is that I’ll get better at these awkward public interactions and that eventually they won’t feel awkward at all. I guess only time will tell, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed, just in case.


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