Different Hats: Teacher, Parent, Colleague

At a school basketball game I long to be "just" a Mom. However, I'm still a teacher. The friends I sit with are either parents of my students, colleagues or both!  That's what it is like at a small school. So what do we talk about? Usually we focus on the game and talk about parenting things. We also talk about trips to taken or we share "that is so Dutch" stories. Occasionally, however, we tread on topics I'd prefer to steer clear of, for example how a friend’s child is doing in school. I don't mind if it is about her child in my class but I really dislike when the conversation wanders to other classes and other colleagues. I already see my colleagues from both sides of the fence: they are my colleagues and they are the teachers of my children. That's a fine line to walk, especially when, in a faculty meeting, one of my children makes it on to the "students of concern" list. I try to make it really clear when I am wearing my "teacher" hat and when I am wearing my "parent" hat. I'll even preface my comments with "I'm speaking as teacher" or "I'm speaking as Mom".  A colleague with whom one of my children conflicted and who often raised my child's name in meetings told me that he was really impressed with how I managed both hats and that I never made anyone uncomfortable with the double role.  So, I think I'm doing a fairly decent job in juggling my hats. In any case, recently, at a basketball game, a parent asked a question about a teacher in seeking advice how to approach this teacher in a parent teacher conference. I diplomatically began a response when another colleague/parent turned around and with venom unleashed a tirade against this teacher. I was shocked and uncomfortable. The conversation was about a colleague of mine who I respect as a very dedicated teacher.  She cares about the students and seeks to make wise and "right " choices as a teacher.  I attempted to advocate for my colleague without offending parents and other colleagues court-side. Another fine line to walk.  I think that even if I agree with other parents, as a parent, I still have the obligation, as a colleague, to speak with respect and support of my fellow colleagues.  Of course, it is good practice in all areas of life to speak respectfully of others, otherwise, just remain silent.