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Public school teachers: Do you play with any parents who have kids in your schools?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by MarTONEbass, Dec 20, 2013.

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  1. MarTONEbass


    Jun 19, 2009
    Norton, MA
    I went to a jam session last night with a guitarist and a drummer in the town next to the town I teach in. The guitarist has a kid at my high school. I only found this out after jamming for a while. I am a special ed teacher and have no direct contact with his son and I'm unlikely to have much if any contact with his son.

    For reasons of personal privacy, I do not live in the town I work. I don't want to run into parents in the grocery store, etc. I don't have much to hide, but I do like my privacy.

    I had a good time and felt we clicked personally and musically but I am having reservations about moving forward. You never know what can happen or what will get back to people at my school.. especially if things eventually go south.

    Am I being paranoid or too cautious? How have others handled similar situations? I'd really like to hear from some other public school teachers who have dealt with similar situations. Thank you!
  2. Taught for the last decade but no longer do. I wouldn't do it... would never feel safe being myself.
  3. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    I don't think it is an issue. If he wants to talk about things at school, just mention that there are confidentiality rules that you must adhere to.

    I teach in a residential school for at-risk girls. Even though I live 40 miles from the facility, there have been times when a local kid, whose parents I know, was sent there. The first time, something about their daughter is broached in the market, etc., I stress the laws of confidentiality. No more is ever spoken of
  4. MarTONEbass


    Jun 19, 2009
    Norton, MA
    I think in this scenario I am less concerned with the confidentiality of students, I am used to keeping my mouth shut about my students whoever I am speaking to. I am more concerned with things about me getting back to people at school.
  5. Spent

    Spent Supporting Member

    May 15, 2011
    Upstate NY
    I also live in a different town than I teach and for the same reason. I would occasionally see parents of current students at gig and one set of parents in particular were at every gig; we even played his birthday party. I don't drink when I go out, a DUI would ruin my career and set a bad example, so I was always on my best behavior. I would be lying if I said that I was 100% comfortable with students' parents present at a gig, our profession seems to be getting a little extra scrutiny lately. While I would be reluctant to be in a band with a parent, I would feel totally comfortable jamming with them occasionally.
  6. Surely teachers aren't social lepers even in their own town?
  7. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    I would follow your gut. But if all we're talking about is playing some innocent gigs at a local venue, what's the big deal? It's not like you're doing lines and throwing back shots with the guy at an after party, right?
  8. Oh. Jammin' Mon, why didn't you say so?
  9. Space Pickle

    Space Pickle

    Apr 15, 2013
    I'm also a teacher. My answer would be no. Keep any relationships with parents professional. Sucks, but it's the safest bet.
  10. MarTONEbass


    Jun 19, 2009
    Norton, MA
    I really appreciate all the different perspectives, guys, thank you. I'm not exactly throwing back shots or doing lines or anything too crazy like that. I'll have a beer or two on a gig, but I am always very careful not to drink too much for reasons of professionalism.

    And to be clear, these guys want to start a band, not just jam informally. There would be rehearsals (at the drummer's house, the guitarist is the one with a son in my school) and gigs.
  11. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    In that case, no. Tell him you're too busy with other things (like teaching). The lines start to get blurred and I know I wouldn't feel right having that kind o relationship. I respect you for even being concerned about it. It means that you take your job seriously. Teachers need to do that.

    Do whatever the hell you want within reason outside of the school district.
  12. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Personally, I think you're worrying too much. There's no conflict of interest, since you don't teach this guy's kid. You act professionally and don't misbehave at gigs. So what's the worst that can happen? Word gets around the school that Mr. Martone plays in a band in his spare time? Doesn't seem like a big deal.

    The fact is that any PATRON at a venue you play at might turn out to be some student's parent or older sibling or cousin or something. I appreciate being a private person, but you can't put up the great wall of China between different things you do in life.
  13. I played with a guitarist who had a son in the school I teach at. I never taught the son and see no reason I shouldn't have played with him. Like you, I never get carried away when I play out, but I do enjoy myself. We seem to live in a society of fear, and I have come to the point where I decided that I wasn't going to be paranoid. I teach well, and I play well. I don't do anything "wrong" when I am doing either. If it feels like a good opportunity you should not live in fear of taking it.
  14. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I wouldn't expect my kids' teachers to isolate themselves from the world. A couple nights ago I played a gig with the band teacher from their middle school. It just wasn't an issue. If I expect teachers to play out, then I expect to run into teachers on the bandstand.

    When I was a kid, my parents were friends with a number of my teachers. I think those teaches were tougher on me. ;)
  15. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I remember one of my father's fraternity brothers was an in demand organist for church and other functions and played with many of his students parents and the students themselves in his second job.
  16. MarTONEbass


    Jun 19, 2009
    Norton, MA
    Thanks again for all the different points of view on this conundrum. I've been giving it alot of thought over the last few days.

    The administrators of my school already knows that I play out on the weekends, so I'm not concerned with that aspect of it. I do take my job seriously, but I don't necessarily need to isolate myself. However, teachers are under much more scrutiny lately.

    What might make this an easier call is what happened when I sent them a follow-up email: They had each emailed me the day after thanking me for coming down and telling me that they enjoyed it. I wrote back, appreciative of the thought. I let them know that I had been in contact with a few other people/situations that I was going to check out before moving forward, and I also suggested some tunes for our next get-together. ( I also said at the end of the night that I was actively looking for a new music gig) They sounded fairly disappointed in their replies to this email, like they thought I was going to commit on the spot. Then I remember how vague they were about their goals when we were together. They didn't really present their goals, desires, amount they wanted to gig or rehearse, and were even vague on song selections.

    So I am dealing with some guys here who are good musicians, have had some positive experiences, but are maybe in a different mindset than I am used to. This is something that I need to seriously consider along with the teaching in the same building as the guitarist's son as I move forward.
  17. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    I'm retired after 36 years of teaching. I giged the whole time and never had this as an issue. But I would not have done it. True, in a perfect world this would be a non-issue, but teachers have to be aware of public opinion and hearsay. Not worth the risk. I did play in a band for several years with a former student, but they had been graduated by at least 10 years, married (twice) and living in a different city from the school.
  18. Trayster2


    Aug 13, 2012
    I live & teach elementary students in a small(ish) community. I am also pretty careful about what I do in public, & keep my private life under wraps. But I don't think gigging would matter much as long as the content of the music isn't offensive. Maybe options are a bit different here in FL though. There are a lot of beachside places where I think my parents & students would enjoy seeing their teacher perform live music!
  19. why don't you try the truth, as in what you spelled out in post one. you know, instead of half truths, excuses, and outright lies?
  20. MarTONEbass


    Jun 19, 2009
    Norton, MA
    I agree, it may not be worth the risk. I make decent money teaching and one little piece of hearsay could ruin the career that I've worked hard to build up over the last 10+ years.

    Interesting perspective, and as liberal as Massachusetts can be, teachers are still under a great deal of scrutiny.

    It's easy to get on your moral high horse and tell me what the right thing to do would be. I am aware of the "right" thing. Unless you have been a teacher, you cannot possibly understand this scenario. I am trying to do the "right" thing for me and my family.

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