My school has a uniform, I hate it. I have enough things to do in my day without worrying about uniform enforcement. What’s more, I really question the high cost of the uniforms, and if it is fair to penalize kids for something they don’t have much control over.

Our uniform consists of a red golf shirt, either long sleeved or short sleeved with the school logo on it. The kids supply their own black pants. There is an optional black sweatshirt with the school logo. The kindergarteners aren’t required to wear them, but everyone else is.

I don’t recall the exact prices, but it’s something to the effect of $18 for the short sleeved shirt, $24 for the long sleeved shirt, and $38 for the sweat shirt. The school is located in a low income neighbourhood.

When I started working at the school, the Principal who was there was pretty relaxed on the uniform. As long as the kids had a red golf shirt, it didn’t matter if it had the logo. Parents would find red golf shirts for cheaper, and get a couple of them. The sweat shirts were viewed as kind of a nice optional extra, but in the cold months kids could wear what they wanted over top.

She retired a few years back, and her replacement is much stricter on the uniform.

Now are insisting everyone have the logo golf shirts. A fair number of parents seem to just buy 1 shirt per kid, usually the long sleeve. If they only buy the long sleeve, then the kids are too hot in the hot weather. Both the short sleeved and long sleeved ones are inappropriate for a Toronto winter on their own, especially given that the schools are kept a couple of degrees below standard room temperature, so kids often wear something else on top.

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Then this year, they are insisting that the kids have the sweat shirt. Today in an assembly for grades 4-6 one of the grade 6 teachers got up and lectured all the kids about how they were not allowed to wear any sweater other than the uniform sweat shirt, demanding that they take them off right then and there.

Today’s high was 6 c (42 F) and the heat in the school hasn’t been turned on yet. It was cool for short sleeves.

I don’t have to worry about it with the Kindergarteners in the morning, but I am supposed to be enforcing this with my special ed class.

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These kids have a horrible time self regulating, come in hyper, and it is really hard to get them to a calm, focussed state where I can teach them anything. The slightest thing will send them hyper again, so I really have to pick my battles.

In the grand scheme of things, giving highly distractible kids yet another reason to be be distracted because they are cold because their parents didn’t buy them the special sweatshirt helps how, exactly?

Also, I am getting the vibe that at least some of my students are using their hoodies to try to deal with sensory issues. I suspect their senses are overwhelmed, and pulling the hood up over their head cuts out some of the noise and light. My room is awful. It has no windows, so the only light source is fluorescents. There is no carpeting, or anything to baffle sound, either.

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I don’t understand teachers who seem to think that by micromanaging kids and enforcing compliance to arbitrary rules they are somehow going to have a calm, orderly school. If anything the research points to something completely different. Stuart Shanker, one of the leading researchers in the area of self regulation (self regulation in a nutshell is the ability for an individual to adjust their energy level to one appropriate to the situation.) says that when you micromanage kids, you interfere with their acquisition of self regulation skills. They rely on you to regulate them, and the moment they think they are not being monitored, it all goes out the window.

Oh, and the teacher who got up and lectured everyone? He was wearing sweat pants and a t shirt. (No, he’s not a Gym teacher. He does coach sport teams at lunch like twice a week, but he wasn’t coaching today, as we had a monthly lunchtime meeting.)

It makes me uneasy that if a teacher is cold they can pretty much put on whatever they want, but if a kid is cold and doesn’t have the sweatshirt, it’s too bad, so sad. The approach seems lacking in basic human compassion.