blog break

Sorry I'm wearing my hoodie

During one of the breaks during a two-day staff development activity, a teacher walked by me. She was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and had the hood pulled up so that it was covering her hair.

As she passed me, she turned and said,
"Sorry I'm wearing my hood in class. The air is kind of cold in here."

She seemed to be a bit embarrassed about the fact and then added,
"But I don't allow my students to wear their hoods in class."

She gave me a smile and then continued on by.

Why is it that teachers grant themselves freedoms they deny their students? After all, if it's okay for her to have her hood up in my class, why shouldn't students be allowed to wear their hoods in her class? Stated simply: is the wearing of a hood in class proper conduct? Yes or no? Right or wrong?

Personally, I don't really care. I'm more concerned about what's going on inside of the head than what's covering it. Which leads me to the point of this entry.

I grant my students as much freedom as they can handle.

Freedom, as most of you know from my writing and speaking, is one of the five basic student needs Bill Glasser has identified as critical to their overall success in the classroom. The other four needs are: power, fun, safety, and love.

For instance, my students have the freedom to work away from their assigned seats. (This is somewhat enhanced by the fact that we do have some free space in our classroom. There's always the kidney-shaped reading table students can sit at if it's not being used by a group. There's the small carpet at the front of the room students can work on. Just make sure you grab a clipboard so that your handwriting doesn't suffer. There are any number of walls a student can lean against.)

All I require is that the student be productive. That's the bottom line. Move if you wish, but stay on task. And if the move causes you to get off task for any reason? Move back to where you normally sit. It's your choice. (In the classroom, freedom is nothing more than allowing students to make choices. According to the research, it's the choices children make that help to build their character. And when you have character, you have hope for a better future.)

So wear a hood if you wish. I'm okay with that. Just don't let it get in the way of your ongoing quest for an education.

What if, though, the student is "hiding" in the hood and not engaged in the lesson? The student has a choice: wear the hood and stay engaged or remove the hood if you can't stay engaged. It's as simple as that.

What if the student's hood is hiding the fact that he is also wearing a set of ear buds which are connected to an iPod so that he can surreptitiously listen to music? In that case, the student has violated trust and will need to remove both the ear buds and the hood. That's assuming, of course, that I had previously stipulated that listening to an iPod in class is forbidden.

Which brings up a related thought: what if listening to music actually enabled a student to be more productive? The music might just eliminate classroom distractions and facilitate the student's ability to concentrate on his writing or reading or math. (I'm listening to some music right now as I write this entry. It's playing softly in the background and creates a nice little cocoon of sound. And, it should be noted, there have been frequent periods of time in which I didn't really notice the music at all because I had become so engrossed in wordsmithing. It just kind of fades in and out depending upon my focus.)

All I'm trying to say is that we don't always know what's going to help and what's going to get in the way. Wearing a hood? Working away from your desk? Listening to an iPod? Could be okay; could be a problem. Add to that mix the fact that every student is different and handles freedom in slightly different ways and you come to the conclusion that teaching is truly an art.

So, let's take a deep breath and think before making blanket statements about classroom policy--no hoods in class--when a more flexible stance might just allow students an opportunity to flex their freedom muscles. And that's the beauty of the arrangement. Freedom is possible only when it is accompanied by self-discipline and personal responsibility. Show some restraint and self-control and you can have the freedom. Conversely, freedom can be denied until such an ability is demonstrated by the student.

As always, it's up to the individual.



Thoughts Main Page

Class Cards

Clip Chart









Secondary Classrooms

Sign Language

Student Numbers

Teacher Responses