This morning I had a student say to me, upon seeing me for the first time that day, “I like your shirt!”
It was just an ordinary blue button down Oxford shirt, but it was a long-sleeved shirt, see. The first I’d worn all year. Your basic Hal Gurnee outfit. Up until now it’s been nothing but the same 5 or 6 polo-style short sleeve shirts I own. Over the past year I had pared down my wardrobe, for travel purposes, and I’ve been slowly replenishing the work shirts since I got back. And so, since the year started, it’s been a simple uniform of khakis and polo shirts. I’ve had these weird skin sensitivities lately, but I recently discovered these shirts, and they’re fabulous. They’re pretty much all I wear.
Anyway. Why am I writing about shirts? Because yesterday, to coordinate with our Boosterthon Fun Run®, I wore the second of two red polo shirts I own. I wore the other one on Friday. Actually, I wear the red shirt every Friday, because it’s “spirit wear” day, and I get to wear blue jeans. Simple pleasures of life, people. So another student catches me in my wardrobe faux pas, and says, “Why are you wearing a red shirt? It’s not Friday!” I guess, according to him, I end the workweek like Tiger Woods does a golf tournament.
The point of all this is not about shirts, or the lack of variety in my sartorial selections, but about what kids remember. I could complain that some spend more time remembering the oddball details, instead of putting proper punctuation at the end of their sentences, but that’s a losing battle. Kids remember weird stuff. (My former student Liz still busts out stuff I said in class 14 years ago like it was yesterday.) This causes many of us to develop that very cautious, rehearsed voice, where every word is chosen very slowly and deliberately. You never know what kids will remember, so sometimes its best to choose your words with caution and care.
I am not very good at this. I talk to them in a regular voice, and I try to avoid that “teacher voice” as much as possible. Our daily Boosterthon visitors to our classrooms have very rehearsed, affected voices, and I don’t think the kids like it. I think they take offense when you talk to them like you’re a textbook, or a game show host. Show them some respect, recognize them as proper individuals, and use your own voice when talking to them. That’s what I do, and I hope that’s something that they remember.