I could spend hours and hours lamenting about the downsides of my job. This should not surprise you. I’m pretty sure that most people, no matter what their chosen profession, are in the same boat. You can love the goal, love what you’re working for, and still the brand of pen that your company supplies can drive you up the wall.
It happens. It’s the little things, as always. First world problems, right?
Obviously, it’s no big shock that teachers can complain with the best of them when we feel like it.
What may surprise you is what I have found to be the most common complaint at my work: the dress code.
Now, if you’re not a teacher but you have some sort of a close relationship with one and are aware of what we traditionally wear to work, I know that there’s a GIANT thought bubble over your head going “WTF?”
You’re allowed. Simply put, in a normal work environment, our dress code would be a fucking Godsend. I mean, we girls can wear a “dress blouse” with pants and Toms. At my school, we can even wear a school-emblazoned tee/hoodie with our dress pants and sandals (just no flip-flops, k?). And let’s not forget the men. Not only is there no need for suits or ties every day for men, they can also have facial hair. When that rule changed over recently, it was just as exciting for them as it was for Ken when Mattel released the 1995 ‘Shaving Fun Ken Doll’ model. So manly.
But to truly judge how flexible that dress code is for our occupation, let’s look at what we do on an average day:
- stand on our feet for 45-minutes at a time, teaching.
- move around the room to help the children CONSTANTLY.
- make sure they get to class on time by means of hounding them to death.
- stand outside during a fire drill.
- sit in a freezing cold room because it finally broke 80 and the air conditioner is super-thrilled to be in use.
- stay at school for sporting events, club meetings, staff developments, and paper grading parties (not really as festive as they sound) until way past contract time.
- wrestle with the copiers, occasionally catching some toner stains/metal burns.
- sit on the floor to help with a group project.
- accidentally lean against the chalk/dry-erase board.
- do awesome hands-on projects that end up being not just on-hands, but also on-clothes, and even (strangely) on-hair.
Then there are the people who wear very expensive and fashionable clothes that are definitely not too casual…but maybe not so kid-friendly. Actually, maybe the problem is that the clothes are TOO kid-friendly. IF you know what I mean. Now, on my campus, this isn’t much of a problem…especially compared to some of the other campuses that I’ve had the privilege to be on.
But I still have to acknowledge that we teach hormonal teenage boys. And, uh, maybe we should make sure that those skirts really do hit our knees while our necklines…you know…don’t.
So when my compadres complain about the dress code, or the people who don’t exactly follow it, I get why. I do.
But I’m also 24. I know that sometimes people make judgement calls that are less that correct without intending to offend. I know that what one person interprets as appropriate and even classy is what another person wouldn’t be caught wearing when they’re doing spring cleaning or under the influence of strong pain medication. I understand how exciting it is to get a new outfit and want to wear it right away, even it it’s not as appropriate as one might wish.
I get all of that because I’ve been there. In all of those scenarios.
And I’ve worked in other fields. Soooooooo….yeah, I’d much rather be wearing ratty old jeans on the painting project days, and I wish fervently for tennis shoes when I dashing down the halls in my “business casual sandals” because yet another meeting ran late and the kids are probably ripping apart my room (though hopefully not each other). But it could be a lot worse.
Now, I’ve got my own problems with it. But most of them aren’t so much about what is or isn’t appropriate for school/working with kids. And for the most part, I love our dress code because of my own general preference for self-expression with clothes. I can be a hippie and be within my requirements as a teacher. It works.
My problem exists in that a part of me that lies dormant most days. The part that really, REALLY wants to dress like a damn grown up.
This means that I would actually need to own a suit.
I’d need a few more pairs of kitten heels.
I’d need to buy make up. And wear it.
I’d need to make putting on jewelry a legit part of my morning routine.
I’d also need blazers that fit me better.
And yeah, sometimes that would mean a slightly higher hemline or a silk blouse that has an open back or sleeveless neckline. Maybe even what my friends jokingly refer to as “business slutty.”
But, I remind myself, I’m not there to impress the kids with how awesome I dress. I’m there to teach them to read. So I’ll throw on that school-colored shirt with khaki pants again tomorrow and save the adult clothes, in every sense of the word, for happy hour.
Doesn’t stop my inner-NPH from mentally yelling ‘SUIT UP!’ when I see my t-shirt and pigtails combo in the mirror some days. Guess that’s just part of being a fake grown up, eh?Top photo credit: brennuskrux. I love Creative Commons.