Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Challenge

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Do you remember “Chase”? You know, that kid who dressed up in a shirt and tie for the days I had gone home for a family emergency back in October? Well, he made me a little challenge today…

About 9 weeks ago I got a student teacher, Miss Grubbs. As the weeks she spent in my classroom progressed, she began to take over the teaching almost entirely. There were days that I taught for only a few minutes—aside from a few of my reading groups in the afternoons. Well, as my teaching time went down, I sort of got out of the habit of dressing up when I went to school.

Chase noticed.

A few days ago Chase said, “Mr. Z, you used to dress up all the time at school, and now you don’t do it anymore…why not?”

Well, I’d thought about this myself. A part of me was wondering if any of the students would notice…more importantly, if any of them would say anything about the change. After all, how often does someone change something about themselves and we don’t seem to notice or mention it to them? Also, I had to admit, it was much more comfortable wearing jeans and a nice shirt instead of being crammed into a shirt and tie for eight plus hours.

Why had I been dressing that way so long?

Today my class went to listen to a symphony perform. The students, as well as teachers, were required to dress up for the occasion. I have to admit that my class was looking quite dapper in their “best” clothing today. After we’d returned from the symphony we finished the school day but Chase lingered. He walked up to me and said, “Mr. Z, I’m going to dress up every day from now on if you will.”

I looked at this boy. Why was he asking me to do this? There is no dress code at my school other than it has to be modest and reasonably nice. “What do you mean?” I asked, wondering how he’d explain his proposal.

“I will wear a shirt and tie every day for the rest of the school year if you’ll do it too.”

“Really?” I asked. “Are you sure about this, Chase?”

He nodded and extended his hand. “I’m sure.”

I shook his hand to seal the deal. Before he left for home he added, “But Fridays will be dress-down days for both of us, okay?”

“Sure, Chase. Fridays off,” I agreed.

Tomorrow is day one.


annette said...

"Chase" and I had a talk on Fri. about this deal you two have. It went something like this...

Me: So, I hear you challenged Mr. Z to dressing up every day.
C: Every day but Friday.
Me: Why did you do it?
C: It was the only way I could think of to get him to dress up again.
Me (smiling and trying to hide a chuckle): So, he needed you to give him a challenge to get him to dress up?
C: Yeah.
Me (struggling to keep the tone serious): Isn't that going to be hard to have to be all dressed up every day, but Friday?
C: I know! All the way to the end of the year. I didn't think so much about that when I did it. But it's okay. I don't mind it really.(Pause)And if I DO miss a day, I have to read (some large amount of something out loud- I don't remember what) and we shook on it.
Me (with a big grin): Well then, does your Mom have to iron a shirt every day?
C: Nah, I just wear the same shirt.
Me (holding back the giggles): So, that's the trick.
C: Yeah, but I probably should wash it tonight.
Me: That's probably a good idea.

And off he went out to recess, half-typical 11 yr. old, half-pretty cool kid.

Teachinfourth said...


I'm glad to hear the "other side" of the story. I wanted to ask why he threw down the gauntlet in the first place, but I just didn't. Thanks for doing the "detective" work and then letting me know about it. It's good to know the other side.

By the way, dressing up every day isn't NEARLY as comfortable as it was wearing jeans...ah well, we all make sacrifices, right?

K.J. said...

I think it is really neat. You are such a wonderful example to the kids out there.

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