If you didn’t know I was a high school teacher (that’s my day job) then you must not have been reading my blogs. If you didn’t also know that I’ve been experimenting with fancy tie knots these past few weeks then you just don’t know me at all. You see, I consider it my duty to look my best — including going out of my way to exude a sense of crispness and a subtle high-fashion that belies my profound respect for my students and fellow faculty while at the same time showing off (in terms relatively simpler than actually going to the gym) my best assets. As a teacher, I am a public figure whether I like it or not. Don’t worry, I like it. But I am well aware that every misstep is immediately perceptible to a potentially hostile audience. For starters, I walk around my classroom. My
audience students are seated. That puts them squarely at eye level with my midsection. If my belt is frayed, believe me, I’ll hear about it. If I have (as I have had in the past) one cuff that came unhemmed on my way out the door and, let’s say in a pinch, I quickly hemmed it up with a well-placed safety pin… Well, I hear about that too. And if I, God forbid, ever sleepily mismatch a tie/shirt combination, then oh boy will I hear about that.
So I get up real early and I get it right! I even plan out my attire the night before, sometimes the week before. I’ve taken to wearing a suit to work almost every day. The other male teachers are catching on. More and more I’m seeing jackets along with the shirts and ties. I mix it up and wear bow ties from time to time. Guess what? I’m seeing them make a come back. The best part on that front is that I have many students who come up to me and ask “Mr. H., show me how to tie that!” I tweet and they tweet back and they ask me to recommend fashion tips before their dances. As I’ve taught them “Listen kids, I raise my standards because I want you to up yours too!” Wait, that didn’t sound right. The point is that if I bring it, they’ll bring it. And every day, they’re bringing it.
Tonight was another round in the bi-yearly ritual known as parent-teacher conferences. The good news, despite the fact that it’s Valentine’s Day, is that I only had five conferences scheduled. Every one of the parents who came in sat down at my desk, looked at me, and began to speak. But instead of the usual “so how’s my son/daughter doing in your class?” I got the more pointed “so how’s my son/daughter doing… Oh my! What an interesting knot in your tie! How’d you do that?!” This lead to a great recap of the above-mentioned points followed by my explanation. “You see, dear parents, I figure that I need to give your son/daughter something to stare at.” The parents looks quizzically. “It’s like this. Sometimes they get bored listening to my voice. Heck, sometimes I get bored listening to my voice. With the Trinity knot or even the more fanciful Eldredge knot here I’ve given them something to behold. They can stare at it while I’m talking. It’s close enough to my head for me to think they’re actually listening. And their brains are hard at work the whole time as they try to figure out the pattern of how I tied it! It’s a win-win-win!”
Then I hand them a grading sheet and a business card and send them on their merry way. I love my job.