Great Moments in Teaching #4: School’s out !

If you teach… don’t do it where you live. I mean, sure… it’s convenient to be able to walk about 300 meters to school. But there is a downside, especially when there are several schools in your area. Why ? Because you will meet your students.

Yesterday I was wandering down the street after buying some banh my and other snacks and I passed a school. One which I did not teach at and had never been to. At that moment, school let out and hoardes of young squealing Vietnamese boys and girls poured out. Oh oh. Mainly “oh oh” because the street instantly filled up and I had negotiate kids on pushbikes, motorbikes with their parents and running from school. No easy task. But also “oh oh” because I thought “I hope I don’t teach any of these kids at night time”.

Naturally that was the cue for an older student to call out “Hey ! Mister D ! How are you ?” and I looked over and there was one of my teenage English students. I waved. Suddenly a group of younger students burst out of the gate chanting “David ! David ! Hello ! Hello !” I grinned with embarrassment and waved and mumbled “Hello” and tried not to make too much eye contact. I was in casual clothes, picking up snacks. That can sort of burst the “student-teacher” relationship when they see you outside doing… you know… normal stuff. I think half the school knows I live around here now. What’s amusing though is that that also means that many of their parents know me in this area, even if I don’t know them. While I see the parents briefly each day when they pick up their kids, they are always on a motorbike, wearing a helmet. But when I see a group of middle-aged men or women sitting around having coffee or noodles in the main street and they all smile and chuckle as I walk past I think “Oh crap. Do I teach their kids ? Suck in your gut… hide that beer you’re carrying.. smile politely !”

That’s the danger of teaching too close to your home. Just sayin’.

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