Etiquette School is in session! > "So kind of you to take an interest."

Keep Staring, She Might do a Trick!

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AnaMaria:
This is a non-verbal exchange, but it involves people "taking interest" in something that is none of their business.  I usually keep up the non-verbal aspect by just giving them a look, but I so want to turn to them and say this line out loud!!!

I have worked as a teacher's aide and a private school teacher for a few years, and am currently pursuing my teaching license (and student teaching in the public schools).  All these experiences have given me plenty of experience- good, bad, and ugly- working with children. 

Yesterday, one of my 5th graders suddenly became ill and I was walking her to the health office- using one hand to hold a waste basket in front of her, and the other to hold her hair back.  She was flushed, sweating, shaking, stopping every few steps to be sick, and clearly miserable in every way.  As we made our way through the hall, we passed a few adults (school staff) who shamelessly stared us down as we walked past- I don't mean a sympathetic, anything-I-can-do-to-help look; they looked like they had never seen a sick child before!  Come on, you don't have to work in a school to know that puke happens!!  As I mentioned, this girl was in 5th grade, old enough to know that people were staring and to feel embarrassment on top of her misery!

Sadly, this isn't an isolated incident- when you work with elementary students, you see a lot of sickness, and I can't count how many times I have seen teachers, parent volunteers, or other school staff flip out and DRAW ATTENTION to the sick child (not in a helpful way!) or just sit there staring as a colleague attends to the child.   Often times, the other children are more polite and compassionate than the adults.  I won't even get into what I've seen in public (including the waiting room of the urgent care clinic).  Yes, I understand that watching someone throw up is gross and awkward, but WHY KEEP STARING AT THEM, or SCREAMING about how grossed out you are????   Don't people know that being sick is bad enough without the stares, or, worse, strangers screaming about how disgusting it is??

TootsNYC:
I wonder if someone in your position could say, "Please don't stare at my student; this is hard enough for her."

It might make the student feel good that you were sticking up for her.

And a quick frown and shake of your head would certainly be polite.

AnaMaria:
@TootsNYC, definitely something I can remember once I'm a tenured teacher.  Unfortunately, as a student teacher, I have to really, really watch everything I say, especially when I don't know if the staring adult is a parent volunteer, another teacher, or someone from the administrative office!

NyaChan:
"Let's give her some privacy everyone" in a pleasant tone and then try to shift between them and her a bit to add a physical component to the verbal suggestion.

lakey:
This really surprised me. I'm a retired Catholic elementary school teacher. As OP said, children vomiting is common. In the lower grades it is also very common for students to cough and sneeze on you. Then there are the bloody noses. Any teacher who isn't used to this stuff by the end of the first year is in for a rough career.

My sister in law is a high school art teacher and this post reminded me of a story she tells with great good humor. During the first week of classes she had passed out to her students some new art appreciation textbooks. Since they had large full color pictures of art works they were much more expensive than most textbooks. The students were sitting there with these books in front of them and she was telling them how the books were very expensive so they had to take good care of them, when one boy barfed all over his. The poor kid was mortified. She just told him it was okay, and handed him a wastebasket for his walk to the office.

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