How to survive bumping into one of your students during the summer vacation

3rd June 2016 at 10:02
Whatever you do, don't panic

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The months of summer are the best chance you get to recharge your battery and get a few bars back on your meter. By an amazing coincidence this may also involve actually visiting bars, which is nice. But one odd consequence of summer vacation is that it can throw students and adults into simultaneous proximity by chance. This terrifies some teachers, who react as though they’ve seen a ghost.

Do not panic.

Students (for the most part) don’t bite.

Here are my tips for dealing with running into a student:

1. Keep cool

If your body language says "ZOMG IT’S A STUDENT!!" then it will make them think you’re odd, and they’ll be right. Meeting a student outside of school can be an opportunity to make a connection with them that surpasses the classroom. I don’t mean invite them to Sunday brunch, but it is amazing how even the thinnest encounters can give you juice for a better relationship at school. So, make sure you say hello. If you’re feeling hipster, lift your head up in a reverse nod, like a horse pulling against a bit. Apparently it’s how children say "hi" these days without conveying effort or concern.

2. Don’t run away

It is natural to feel a bit awkward if you’re at the mall catching a movie, or chillaxing at a rowdy restaurant, and Shaheda Wilkinson from 9F is standing next to you in the line. But really, who gives a monkey’s? I’ve seen teachers hide wine glasses and sit up straight, as if children can’t handle the fact that you may have the odd craft beer with your lesson planning. Or even a not so crafty one. Just do the "nod" thing again. Show them you care not a bit.

3. Keep even cooler

Sometimes the kids themselves don’t handle the encounter very well. Believe me, most kids will either be paralyzed with embarrassment, as is proper and natural, or possibly even polite and courteous towards you. But there are a few who will believe that, being out of reach of any principal or failing grade, they can tell you off with impunity. If they do, don’t get worked up. Don’t get mad. Serve justice, like revenge, cold when you get back to school. Treat it as any other behavior incident even though it happened beyond the school gates. Knowing that, you can settle back into the last fortnight of piña coladas and minnow foot spas. And, if that's not possible because the student graduated or existing school policy prohibits it, behave like you're a teacher. Because you are, and that's a good thing.

Good luck, hipsters.

Tom Bennett is the TES adviser on behavior and author of four books on education. He tweets as @tombennett71  

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