As many of the elementary students in our district will be writing Memoir in May, I thought it might be a challenge for me to write my own memoir. This idea is something that I have been playing around with as a project for my closely approaching retirement years. My thoughts have been: write about the changes in teaching from the 1970's to 2012. Now, I should be able to come up with some examples and stories during that time!
When I first think about what was different, I think about one specific time. It was the beginning of a school year in the early 1970's. The day was warm and the principal had called a teacher's meeting after school. It was to be held in an upstairs classroom, so that meant it was going to be HOT. No air-conditioning for that building. Even with the windows open, those rooms facing the west were like ovens since the sun had been beating down on them all afternoon. We struggled in and took seats at children's desks. This was a fourth grade room, so the desks fit fine.
The topic of discussion was: Should women teachers be allowed to wear pantsuits to school. It was always a rule that female teachers must wear skirts or dresses. If they had playground duty, which they did quite often, they could put pants on under their dresses or wear long coats to fight off the cold.
The discussion went back and forth about why and why not this was to be allowed. The women all felt that they could be better teachers in pants since many primary teachers sat on the floor with their students. Naturally, the issue of cold weather also came up. Most of the men felt that if they wore pants, the students would not learn as well due to the fact that they would not look professional.
The way I remember it, the topic was not settled that night, but left to be discussed again. Of course, we know now that eventually the dress code did change. I don't remember when exactly that happened. I just remember the heated discussion that went on that night. For a new teacher, it was scary and frightening to see professionals get that upset about what someone was wearing and not an issue about how students were learning...not really.
As I look back on this episode, I wonder...what is it that we are hotly discussing in 2012 that has more to do with our pride than the students' learning? Something to think about!!!