Official Blog of the Education Exchange Corps

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dress to Impress: Keeping Kids Engaged with a Suit and Tie

"I like your suit. Are you famous?"

I don't normally wear suits to our summer academy, but I'm also interning with the Missouri Attorney General's Office. I try to visit Clay Elementary as often as I can during my lunch breaks. After my latest visit, I'm not sure why Justin Timberlake forgot to mention that playing dodgeball in a suit and tie is pretty awesome. And if you can dodge traffic in a suit, what's the problem?

I've noticed that my dress calms even the craziest of kids around me. It interests them. They immediately want to know what I do or what movie I'm working on. I guess Harry Potter's resemblance will continue to be a topic of interest for the foreseeable future.

I used to dress up a bit when I was substitute teaching. No matter the grade level, I got compliments from kids, and I'm not a tremendous dresser by any means. The high school kids I worked with told me I was the best dressed at the school.

Kids notice what you wear. I think it makes them feel like you care, or at least it makes them feel special to be taught by a movie actor.

Then just yesterday, my fellow board member Johnny Buse lent me his copy of How To Be An Effective Teacher: The First Days of School by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong. It's a cute read with several pages about dressing to impress kids.

But dressing up doesn't just impress kids. It gives them expectations of what they need to do to be professional, to be like you.

I help coach a high school Mock Trial team at Career Academy. I was sitting in a classroom with the kids before a tournament with my tie draped around my neck. One of our younger students asked me if he could see the tie.
"Sure." I handed him the tie and he tried to tie it. The coaches ended up helping him out, and when he finally got it, he walked right out of the classroom and disappeared for 10 minutes. When he came back, he still had the tie on.
"I was wondering where that went!"
"I just wanted to show it to some people," he said. "I feel powerful."

It was the first time he had put on a tie.

There are so many tools we can use to teach kids, and the longer I've been doing this, the more interested in the little details I get.

Don't worry, folks. You don't have to dress up to volunteer with us. But I'm pretty sure I'll be playing a few more games of dodgeball in my dress shoes this summer.

Elad Gross is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Education Exchange Corps.


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