How to Deal With the Paparazzi

Yesterday, a colleague and I went into school for a bit to spread out on the tables in the media center and work on a mix of personal and professional projects. We both get a hint of cabin fever at home, so we make a point to go to the school every so often during the summer (against the advice of, oh, everyone we run into or talk to about it). It’s just what we like to do, ok?! It makes us happy, and you all know that’s what I’m all about!

It wasn’t our work session that was interesting, however. It was lunch. You see, when you go out for lunch in the area in which you teach, you’re bound to see at least one student in the process. Well, we didn’t see just one; we saw several. Twice.

One thing you need to know before we move on: This colleague and I are very close. It is not uncommon for her to look at me and ask, “Are we best friends?” To which I, obviously, respond by changing the subject immediately with the sole intent of making it uncomfortable for both of us. It’s a little game we play. Another thing you need to know: We’re both very dramatic people. We can and will make a big deal out of everything (seldom maliciously, of course). If you want to know why I’m telling you these juicy little tidbits, read on.

Student Encounter #1: Paparazzi at the Grocery Store

I had exactly two things on my shopping list (dish soap and green food coloring…don’t ask), so I was able to drag my colleague (that’s getting annoying, so let’s just call her Gertrude) into the grocery store. The beginning of the visit was mundane: We entered, scouted out the aisle signs for soaps and cake supplies, located our bounty, and checked out. At the checkout line, though, we were spotted! A group of overly tan girls, standing behind a too-small Starbucks merchandise display, were snapping our picture with iPhones. Can you imagine our fury? Our disdain? Our rage? You can’t? Well, you’re smart then, because this has happened to us on multiple occasions (believe it or not) and we not-so-secretly love it. Don’t get me wrong, though! Just because we love it doesn’t mean we won’t blow it astonishingly out of proportion!

“How DARE you?!” I yelled while simultaneously swiping my AMEX and making small talk with the lovely girl behind the register. “We didn’t ask for this life!” screamed Gert while fishing out her sunglasses in a futile attempt to hide her identity. The girls, naturally, tried to hide, but mugs and hot cocoa mix do not really make great barriers for two incensed educators that have just had their privacy invaded. We swooped down upon them, demanding to know who they work for, who sent them, and how much our photo is selling for these days.

Now, I know what you’re all thinking. How could we be so mean to these scared, startled little girls? We weren’t. This entire scene (and trust me, it was a scene!) took place with smiles on our faces and honey in our voices. The girls loved it. They know that we were making a big deal out of it because: 1) It was funny and 2) We like them. I can’t imagine one of those crotchety teachers having this much fun with students at the local grocery store. So, my advice is this: When you encounter students in public, make a scene. They will know they’re loved, and will have a positive story to tell their friends (who you may have in class someday!).

Student Encounter #2: 6 Ounces of Smoothie

After the grocery store, we decided to hop into the local smoothie place. You see, Gertie knows several students that work there, so a free smoothie was a very real possibility for us. Upon walking in, we soon discovered that two students she knew were, indeed, working. To our horror, however, they were not able to give us a free smoothie. We would have to settle for 50% off. For teachers, that translates to sharing a $1.76 kids-sized smoothie. As the students made our 12 ounce smoothie, they decided to poke fun at the fact that we would each be consuming 6 ounces of smoothie. My response, as a health-minded individual (ha!), was, “As human beings, the amount of smoothie we should consume each day is exactly ZERO ounces, so we’re actually having an infinite percentage more than we should.” They laughed, we laughed. It was great.

That’s really about it. The conversation was great, but nothing to write home about. The primary takeaway is that it was a great way to connect with students in an environment where they are comfortable being themselves. Yet another great example that teachers need to admit that they are real people, too!

Do you have any fun, random stories about running into students around town? Email me with them and I’ll share them with the TCST community!


I have a unique perspective on teaching. As a young guy, I still have that “world is my oyster” perspective on life, so I am more than willing to try new things in the pursuit of happiness. I have always been a naturally happy person and don’t shy away from trying to make others see that it’s easy to be happy! Thus, the blog you’re reading. The main impetus for actually putting all the work in to getting this blog up and running? A coworker stopped me in the hall one day and actually reprimanded me for being so smiley all the time. They actually said that I shouldn’t be so happy as a teacher! My response? Screw that! I SHOULD be happy. I now smile at that coworker EVERY time I see them…and usually say something like, “Isn’t this such great day to be a teacher?!” They don’t usually smile back… Don’t be like them.

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