October 13, 2007

The Great Shoelace Rebellion

I heard whisperings that Friday would be No-Shoelace Day. I didn't think anything of it because there is a group of 8th graders who like to declare special dress-up days on Fridays. We've already had Greaser Day (in remembrance of a group of boys who were at our school last year) and Cowboy Day (uhm, yea) this year. It's a pretty small group of students, mostly girls, who have their little fun, and considering these little theme days must work within our dress code (solid colors, and collared shirts), an outsider probably would not even realize they were dressed differently. It mostly has to do with hair and accessories, of course.

Before school started on Friday I had dozens of students in my classroom trying to print their weekly assignments for Ms. Social Studies, and while they were in line, many of them were discussing whether they would remove their shoelaces or not. As it turns out, one of their classmates was written up for dress code violation because he had taken the shoelaces out of his shoes. Of course, this was just wrong in their eyes because there isn't any such rule about not having shoelaces. So, they were going to show those deans and not wear their shoelaces, too.

A couple of students asked to borrow safety pins on Friday morning, and it turns out they were using them to hold their shoes on after they removed their laces. Once I learned what they needed the safety pins, I reminded them that shoelaces serve a purpose. Determined to make a point, they ignored me while shuffling around with the tongues of their Chucks flopping around.

Ah, the rebellion! Cracks me up.

I decided that perhaps they didn't want to hear the reason why not having shoelaces might be a problem. God forbid that we should have to evacuate the school with these loose-shoed teens. And people, that is not a far-fetched idea. We've had fires at our school twice in the years I've been here, and just last week we had to evacuate because of a gas leak on the adjacent construction site of our new school. Oh, well. I'm an adult. I'm way over 30, and I don't know anything.

Instead, I went next door to share laughter with the 7th grade English teacher who had my group of students last year. We giggled and rolled our eyes over our goofy kids. She told me that particular group of students did have a tendency to get riled up. She admitted that had she not been a first year teacher last year, she might have been able to channel their rebellious energy into something positive. (Sounds like a challenge to me, doesn't it?)

I'm not sure if anything came of the great rebellion. I know a few students were late to class because they were detained so they could lace their shoes. I also know the student who had first endured the injustice earned himself two days of detention, but I don't know if it was related to his shoelaces.

Throughout the day I'd hear snippets of conversation related to the shoelace rebellion, but it wasn't until after lunch that I found a copy of the student handbook where I looked up the dress code. Okay, so I fell down on the job because it plainly says (in kid speak, not lawyer speak) that if students wear shoes that have laces, those laces should be laced. Of course rather than being mildly amused by their antics, I should have set them straight and enforced the code. Oops!

I do feel a little bad for my students, though. The code pertaining to shoes is black and white. There was nothing to dispute. Those shoes came with laces? Wear them! Poor kids wasted their energy on an issue where they were clearly in the wrong.

I'm sure they'll find a better cause next week.

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