Author Topic: Awkward moment at the retreat  (Read 4051 times)

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citadelle

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Awkward moment at the retreat
« on: March 09, 2013, 02:34:11 PM »
I am a teacher of a core subject in a middle school. We recently had a retreat for our whole "house" of students, about 150. It is a fun retreat, lots of games and music and a message of treating others with respect.

An adult volunteer was needed for one of the activities. The group leader had met with my colleagues and I beforehand and we had agreed that my coworker Sophie would be the volunteer.

When it came time for the activity, the group leader announced on the mic, "We need a teacher volunteer!" This was Sophie's cue. However, the group of students began to chant my name. I did not in any way encourage them to do this.

Sophie and I and the other teachers were standing in the back. I gestured broadly to Sophie, to try to encourage the students to call for her. It didn't work. The group leader met my eye, and I stepped back hoping that Sophie would step forward. It felt very awkward. Finally, Sophie gestured to me and I went forward as the volunteer to assist in the activity.

It felt so wrong. I knew that Sophie didn't really care if she did the demo or not, but it felt like the students were expressing a preference for me and I worried that would embarrass or hurt her. She is one of my closest friends.

I know that the group leader made a mistake in the way she asked for a volunteer. She should have just called Sophie up, since she knew that was the plan. But since that didn't happen, should I have gone up? Should I have insisted that Sophie go up instead? Should I say something to Sophie about the awkward moment? I don't want to "humble-brag" to her, and I know she would brush it off and say it didn't matter. But what if it did? It doesn't help that the whole message of the retreat was respect, and I feel like I was disrespectful to my friend.

TootsNYC

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Re: Awkward moment at the retreat
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2013, 06:08:09 PM »
You were on the spot, and thinking on your feet.

But probably you should have stepped forward much sooner instead of trying repeatedly to get Susie in on the activity. That actually highlighted that the students were "choosing you over Susie."

Or make your consultation w/ Susie & leader seem more like a conversation and less like a "gesturing Susie forward."

Redsoil

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Re: Awkward moment at the retreat
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2013, 08:19:28 PM »
Sounds like you did fine.  Might be easiest just to simply ignore the incident, apart from a light-hearted "Kids!  Wouldn't you know they'd be contrary!" or something similar ("best-laid plans..."  etc.)
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citadelle

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Re: Awkward moment at the retreat
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2013, 10:50:14 AM »
You were on the spot, and thinking on your feet.

But probably you should have stepped forward much sooner instead of trying repeatedly to get Susie in on the activity. That actually highlighted that the students were "choosing you over Susie."

Or make your consultation w/ Susie & leader seem more like a conversation and less like a "gesturing Susie forward."
Thanks. That makes sense. In the moment, I was trying to get her up there, and I admit that I didn't want to just jump forward. It was awkward, but I guess some moments just are.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Awkward moment at the retreat
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2013, 11:12:43 AM »
I wouldn't necessarily assume that kids chanting for you was a sign of them liking you better or anything like that; it's more a sign that a ringleader thought "Wouldn't it be funny if Citadelle was up there?" and started the chant and that other kids joined in for kicks.  I wouldn't feel the need to say anything about it.

(My personal list of "favorite teachers" and "teachers who are good sports about being embarrassed in front of students and who enjoy being funny" are overlapping but not congruent sets.)

citadelle

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Re: Awkward moment at the retreat
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2013, 11:21:55 AM »
I wouldn't necessarily assume that kids chanting for you was a sign of them liking you better or anything like that; it's more a sign that a ringleader thought "Wouldn't it be funny if Citadelle was up there?" and started the chant and that other kids joined in for kicks.  I wouldn't feel the need to say anything about it.

(My personal list of "favorite teachers" and "teachers who are good sports about being embarrassed in front of students and who enjoy being funny" are overlapping but not congruent sets.)

Ha... good point!

blahblahblah

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Re: Awkward moment at the retreat
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2013, 04:14:15 PM »
Also, since there were more teachers there than just you and Sophie, it really wouldn't have been that awkward for Sophie. It's not like you and Sophie were the only choices available and the students called your name instead.

citadelle

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Re: Awkward moment at the retreat
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2013, 12:29:44 PM »
Yes, in the grand scheme this was really no big deal. I haven't said anything about it to Sophie or anyone else, and all is well. Thanks for your input.

Lynn2000

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Re: Awkward moment at the retreat
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2013, 11:28:44 AM »
I think it was just an awkward situation, and you did your best on the spot. However, I think it's very strange that Sophie didn't step forward, as she knew that was the plan. In your description it sounds like she never did anything to indicate she was willing to follow through on the agreement she'd made to be the volunteer. When the students started chanting your name, you could have smiled, staying leaning back on the wall/in your seat (obviously not going anywhere), and shook your head. Then Sophie could have stepped forward, per the plan. You could even have gestured to her, like you were passing the "honor" on to her.

I grant you, there was a lot of awkward in this situation--the announcer's misstep, the kids unexpectedly chanting your name. But it seems to me that Sophie contributed a lot to that, when she knew what the plan was. The vibe I get is that she didn't really want to be the volunteer, even though she had agreed, and was happy to cede that spot to you when the crowd insisted. In which case, there's no need for you to feel like you did anything wrong by her.
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