The students think they’ve got it tough dressing for school. How low can they tie the knot in their tie? How short should they wear their skirt? Which black, branded sports trainer should they wear to side-step the school shoe policy? For a teacher, choosing an outfit for the day is also hugely challenging. Here are 5 observations from my own experience of dressing for school:
It took me by suprise how many 15-year-old boys seemed to have a penchant for a good bit of tweed. I had been wearing a modest shirt & tie combo for years and decided to mix things up a little by introducing a battered old tweed jacket. To my surprise, I was greeted by plentiful compliments from my Y10 form including a, “You look fresh today, sir,” from one of my most troublesome tutees. Mind you, I’m still not sure whether 15-year-olds approving of your fashion sense is good or not.
I hated non-uniform day as a pupil at secondary school because all the students suddenly thought they were on show and would a) dress up to show off and b) look at everyone else from top to toe to ensure that they measured up in the coolness stakes. I was stunned to find that the latter happens when you’re a teacher as well. Your every clothing choice is minutely observed on non-uniform day to the extent that by the end of mid-morning break you long to return to your starched collar and creased trousers.
There’s always a teacher who thinks they can pull off a waistcoat. Simon in Geography springs to mind. He wore a bottle-green number with beige jeans and shoes with no socks. We couldn’t all get away with it but I certainly respected Simon for giving it a bash.
There’s something Superman-like about the transformation of P.E. teachers on a formal occasion. On most days they get away with pulling on some scruffy shorts, a hoodie and some trainers, and rolling into school looking like they’re training for the local Sunday league team. This renders them barely recognisable on the rare days when they might go for an internal promotion, or spruce themselves up for the Y11 prom.
Conversely, if you’re not a P.E. teacher it can be a bit of a surprise to everyone (the students and equally your peers) when you make an appearance for sports day in shorts and t-shirt. There is a joy in distinguishing the regular teacher of sport from the educators who have been drafted in to help out: whilst the P.E. department arrive in their well-worn sports garb, the English practitioners could be mistaken for friends heading out to the beach in their crew-neck t-shirts, deck shorts and sunglasses.
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