Thursday, April 4, 2013

What Say You?

Okay, I'm coming back to my trusty Advice Council today because I am need of advice. And counsel. This time I'm looking at you, teachers among the AC, to provide the expertise.

Here's the set-up: Every spring the Small Town High School band director calls to see if I can accompany her students at the regional music contest. Someday she's going to have a forehead-bopping moment and think "Hey! I could get someone with some actual musical talent to do this!" and she will no longer call me and that will be the end of the community service that I love perhaps most of all, but I digress.

Last night the students performed in a mini-recital for parents. The goal of this event is to help them get over the performance jitters that tend to mess up contest performances. It's low-pressure and informal, a good run-up to the real event next week.

The clarinet quartet performed first, then were required to stay and hear the dozen soloists who followed their short-ish song. I was sitting at the piano so I had a perfect view of the increasing boredom among the clarinetists, and after four or five subsequent soloists had played I saw a couple of the girls stand up between numbers and go to the back of the room to "put their clarinets in their cases."

That phrase is in quotes because the real reason they went to the back of the room was to retrieve their phones. This is in direct violation of the no-cell-phones-during-a-performance rule. Oh, they thought they were being all sly and crafty as they palmed the contraband (because that doesn't look suspicious at all) and the band director was busy tuning the next soloists so she didn't see it. I did, though, and here is where I need your teacherly advice:

What should I have done?

What I did do was wink at one of the girls, to let her know she had not earned her Bourne Identity stealth award yet. To her credit, she blushed. But she also then checked something on the phone she had stashed in her lap. She was embarrassed but not embarrassed into compliance with the rule.

Should I have ratted her out? My assumption is that the teacher knows this kind of thing is going on, and until I call her attention to it she can be humanely ignorant and save herself some hassle. But maybe she would rather know, because my knowledge (and wink) imply my complicity in (and approval of) this behavior?

What say you, oh wise ones of my Advice Council?


  1. I am eager to hear responses to this question because as oldest (10) gets older this is the kind of thing that makes me volunteer less in situations outside of his classroom or really structured activities. I hate the internal debates I end up having with myself related to drawing the line on the behavior of kids who are not my kids and for whom I am not directly responsible. Am I supposed to act like their teacher and tell them to knock it off? Am I supposed to be a disinterested third party and ignore it? How long must it go on and how disruptive must it be before I should take action? Is the teacher aware of these things and choosing not to take action, which case I also should do nothing? GAH! I hate attempting to make the proper judgment call outside of my own home or the classroom, so I've learned to avoid those situations and save myself the stress.

    So, basically, I have no advice - unhelpful!

  2. I've spent the last 16 years teaching our kids that house rules extend beyond the house. They've been taught to behave above and beyond what's expected from teachers, elders, etc. I realize that doesn't always happen, but that's the expectation we've given them.
    Early in the school volunteer role, I let something slip by one of my daughter's classmates and she called me on it when we got home. It made me realize that I couldn't expect them to uphold our teachings and expectations if I wasn't willing to do the same on my end. So since then, I've been the "hard-nosed Mom".
    But now that I'm thinking about it, this hasn't been so hard. I think the kids know I'll back up what the teachers expect, so they don't push the issue. There have been a few uncomfortable moments here and there, but all in all, not that many or that uncomfortable.
    But MQB, I think you've already taken care of everything. You surely don't think that in Small Town, the teacher hasn't already received a link to this post? ;)

    1. Ha! Mom of 4, honestly, I had not even thought of that!