Yet another week of school-wide special dress-down days.
These days, it seems we "commemorate" events by dressing down: Sweats Day, Jersey Day, Hat Day, Mascot Day, etc.
We wear crazy socks for reading: Go Crazy for Reading! Then we turn around and wear crazy socks for drug awareness: Sock It to Drugs. For one, we show support; for the other, we tout our opposition. Confusing.
Schoolwide dress-up days really do a couple of things: they disrupt learning, and they give teachers (and students) the opportunity to dress down.
We can't say that they support school unity (a common defense), because everyone in the class doesn't participate. Every student, and every teacher for that matter, does not own a sports jersey or shirt. If everyone does it, I could see the unity defense coming into play, but they don't. When only a handful of students participate, it is, instead, distracting to the class. Crazy Hair Day becomes Look-At-Me-My-Mom-Tried-To-Outdo-Your-Mom-In-The-Crazy-Department Day. Unity? Methinks not.
Not only that, but I happen to believe educators should dress professionally. There are occasions for wearing jeans, such as a field trip to the local cave, and there may even be reason to wear shorts, like during the end-of-year field day, but on most days, if teachers wish to be considered professionals, we must dress professionally. These dress-down days are excuses for teachers to "be comfortable" by wearing pajamas, sweats, and other unprofessional gear. Never do we seem to dress up to promote our so-called unity.
And that brings us to Pajama Day, which seems to happen more and more as years go by. I hear people making fun of people who go to WalMart in their PJs, but then I see the same people promoting public pajama wearing in the school hallways. There's a mixed message here. Besides, we have no reason to wear night clothes to school - or in public. The flies and buttons are not as secure as day-wear clothing, and the whole set-up is generally less supportive. In other words, adults tend to jiggle more in their pajamas than they do when they dress for success. Let's just leave it at that. And then they complain that their students are less attentive to lessons.
The same goes for Hat Day. As I continue to teach students to follow rules and use manners, I must realize that we have a dress code for a reason. It states that no hats are allowed, as well as no sleepwear, and no house shoes. It's harder to consistently expect kids to dress appropriately when we also encourage exceptions to the rule. In addition, it is always bad manners to wear your hat when you are inside a building. People like to see your eyes when you are talking to them - not the shadow from your hat.
Don't take this the wrong way. I do believe there is a time to dress "special". That time for me is when it is appropriate to the lesson at hand. I've never done dress-up days for my lessons, knowing that not everyone will or can participate, but I concur that they could be used effectively to enhance the mood and setting of the class.
Early in the year, last year, I supported our kindergarten students by encouraging my students to dress in particular colors on specified days. Most students were able and willing to dress in shirts to help teach our youngest Eagles. Also, I could still dress professionally in the designated colors without dressing down.