Avoiding Awkward Situations With Teachers

Ifedunni Segun-Abugan, Opinion Editor

At times we are faced with unfavorable situations, most of which are haunting.

For example, think of a time someone waved at you and you waved back, only to find out that the person wasn’t actually waving at you. Or maybe you tripped in public and tried to play it cool by turning it into a somersault, but just ended up making yourself look like an even bigger fool. That’s the way most people feel when they see a teacher in public. If you don’t know what to do when you are stuck in this situation, your best option is just to wave hello and be on your way. But just in case it’s not that easy to remedy your situation, all you have to do is take these tips into account:

Don’t try to look away. The truth is, teachers have more to fear from seeing a student outside of school than the other way around. So the odds are that if you spot one outside of school grounds, they’ve probably spotted you first. If you see them and they’re turned the other way, then you’re fine— make a run for it before you’re seen. But if they are looking your way when you spot them and you’re both at eye level, don’t look away. Hold your ground. Keep your stance. After you’ve made it clear that you’re not afraid to be seen, sabotage their defenses by throwing them a confident wave and “Hi, Ms. Decker”. Then saunter off in your original direction.

Keep your cool. No, I don’t mean try to turn your untimely stumble into a somersault. I mean don’t overreact, especially if you’re with your friends. Don’t try to be sly and whisper to your best friend. That will instantly give you away and might even be seen as rude.

“Hey Roger, is that Ms. Decker over there?”

“It is! OMG! I’m not dressed appropriately! My pants are too low and I’m wearing a hat indoors! Hide me!”

Relax. Your teacher knows that you’re not in a school environment and will not hold you up to school standards in that moment. Well, unless you’re breaking the law (and please try not to do that in front of a teacher).

Don’t make it obvious to your parents that it’s your teacher. If you’ve never had the misfortune of an unplanned parent teacher conference then you don’t know the true meaning of the word “disaster”. So just in case you are excited to see your teacher in public, try not to yell “Hi Ms. Decker!” to the whole world because then your mom or dad will take the opportunity to have a little chat with said teacher in the middle of the dairy aisle.

Don’t do anything in public that you wouldn’t want your teacher to catch you doing. There is a very fine line between screwing around and screwing around. And I’m not talking about the screwing around that your math teacher warns you about whenever you get put in table groups. I’m talking about the screwing around you do with your buddies when you temporarily have no cares in the world.

I had a very inopportune encounter with my history teacher Mr. Bellows at our friendly neighborhood Safeway. During this encounter, I made the poor decision of pretending to be an eel and proceeding to dance like one while pushing my shopping cart. In just those 5 seconds of brief debauchery, Mr. Bellows popped up on the other side of the aisle and said, “Hi Ife”.

The embarrassment from the situation was a wake-up call which I chose to answer. Don’t act like a child in public. Behavioral errors that belong in the “childish” category include: dancing while pushing a grocery cart, dancing in a grocery cart, racing to the cashier and outrageous public displays of affection. If you wouldn’t do it at school, don’t do it in public, because if you are ever spotted by a teacher doing these things, your relationship with that teacher can get very awkward very fast.

Treat your teacher in public the way you would treat your teacher in the classroom. As a student, I couldn’t imagine a worse situation than seeing a teacher be treated like “one of the guys” by a student. If he’s Mr. Green in the classroom, that doesn’t make him ‘Sylvester’ at the movie theaters. It’s a simple sign of respect. This also means that you shouldn’t be rude or disrespectful just because there won’t be any codes of conduct you’re breaking.

Don’t kill their vibe. Yes, some teachers are more chill than many of the students at DV. They have lives and they have friends. Don’t be embarrassing and approach them while they’re on an outing with friends.  The odds are that any time you see teachers on outings, it’s the only time they get to be on outings because they have so many papers to grade. They deserve to have student-free time in student-free environments.

So, if you happen to see a teacher out trying to have a good time, just lay off. Let them be free.