I believe in the old adage that you should dress for the job that you want, not the one that you have. Of course, I am not a 13 year old middle school kid whose idols are JayZ and Beyonce. I am not a fan of dress codes. Yet, I am also well aware of how our society has hyper-sexualized teens. The other day I saw a 12 year old girl walking around the store with her mother. Both were wearing daisy duke booty shorts! Why does a ten year old need to show off her thighs and butt!? I don’t believe children should come to school dressing like hookers and thugs. Yet, at the same time, I remember what it was like to wear the hottest trends and how that affected your status. I had a situation this week that made me really start second guessing my support for any dress code. It had nothing to do with yoga pants or leggings, booty shorts or shirts with offensive slogans, but over hoodies. I had a situation with a student over a wearing his hood on his head. Of all the dumbest things I have had to get contentious with, I would have never thought it would be over something as supercilious as a hood on a head. You would think I would have better things to do with my time…and I do!
According to dress code policy, hoodies are allowed but your head must be uncovered at all times. Not hats, hoods, bandannas, just your head. The phrase, “take off your hood,” is almost as routine as “get to class,” and “quit sucking face.” Most of the students roll their eyes and then comply. After they turn the corner, they put their hoods back on. I don’t know how many times I keep saying, “take off your hood,” to the same students everyday. It’s the same with the sagging of the pants. It is an endless quagmire of a confrontation.
I am not sure if it had something to do with it being October, or that it was a Friday, but the constant repetition and redirect over hoods was starting to wear thin on me. One particular young man, had been directed by me to take off his hood while I was walking down the hallway. He complied. Not three minutes later I saw him wearing it again. Maybe it was the disrespect and defiance that set me off or the fact that my fellow teachers just stood there and did nothing.
I informed that young man that I was writing him up for dress code.
One hour later, he has the same hood on again, so I told him I am adding another referral for insubordination. He snapped back some smart comment and instead of letting it go, I decided to be a smart ass. You know me, I just have to get the last word. The young man got heated and desired to charge at me. His hooded friends began to try to hold him back and I told him, “Oh, please do.” Another teacher grabbed the young man and walked him down the hallway.
Lunch time comes and I sat there feeling about as low as I could. I let something as stupid as a hood and a dress code turn me into the very equivalent of everything I hated about my teachers. I didn’t feel proud of myself at all. I went to my principle and explained to him what happened. I told him that I cannot be the only one trying to enforce rules that no one else is going to follow. I also told him how stupidly I handled that situation. I shouldn’t be getting triggered over something as ridiculous as hoods.
I sought the young man out. He is a good kid and other than being out of dress code, he does not get into trouble. He is a great athlete and pretty smart young man. When I found him I apologized and let him know that both of us are better then we both acted. I also let him know that it’s part of my job to make sure that the school rules are followed. I explained that after numerous times of getting on him for his hood I just had to write the referral. I told him he was a great kid and that neither one of us needs to be getting stupid over hoods. He nodded his head and we shook hands.
Come this week, I refuse any longer to concern myself with a dress code. Unless it is undeniably a violation I am not getting involved. I believe it was Thoureau that once said, “If the law be of the nature that it forces you to harm your fellow man, then disobey the law.” I am not a transcendentalist, but building relationships with children is vital to my success as teacher. I cannot be seen as someone who gets triggered easily because of hoodies.
On another note it would be nice if my fellow educators followed suit with the same policies that we are needing to reinforce. If teachers are seen as fractured and not supportive of one another’s decisions, than we might as well let the kids rule the roost. We cannot have a successful school when teachers act about as lackadaisical as the students when it comes to school policies. Present readers who are colleagues are not part of this problem.
As always, thank you for reading Tales From The Red Pen. Subscribe and comment. Most importantly share share share! Until next week I bid you…Adieu.