Punk Rock Teacher and the Freedom to Be One

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“To me, punk rock is the freedom to create, freedom to be successful, freedom to not be successful, freedom to be who you are. It’s freedom. – Patti Smith

This morning I was a baby kitten and I had two caregivers. They fed me, played with me, gave me rules and timeouts when I broke them. They dubbed me, “Kitty Blue Hair” or simply “Blue Hair” for short.

N often is comforted in the morning by stroking my jacket spikes. Some, lovingly, call them horns.

I used moshing as an example when talking about bodily consent, we then practiced moshing and in turn, practiced telling each other ‘No’, ‘I don’t like that.’ and checking in with each other even though consent was given, to make sure consent is still being given.

The punk world is a vital part of who I am as a person, and being able to share this world with my classroom has been really wonderful. I am always aware that this is a privilege I am allowed, that most in the educational field are not. I have worked in schools where I had to wear a uniform. I have worked in schools where you had to cover any visible tattoos, couldn’t have unnatural hair colors, and couldn’t have piercings. I once was written up for wearing jeans.

“A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed up in identical caps and gowns that ‘individuality’ is the key to success.” – Robert Orben

Even in niches of education where we value individualized curriculum, respecting each child as their own person, we sometimes don’t do a great job of modeling this. Teachers sometimes seem like they are reading from scripts, all doing the same work in the same way, even dressed in the same clothes. I believe this is a huge disservice to our work.

In my seven years of teaching, I have worked with teachers with a variety of identities, interests, and personas. I have worked with teachers who love to tell jokes and make people laugh, bringing whoopie cushions and the like into the classroom. I have worked with teachers who are dancers, bringing dance shoes, instruments, and dance moves to the classroom. I have worked with teachers from different cultures, who bring artifacts, languages, and food from their culture into the classroom. No matter what my co-teachers have brought from their own life, it has always enriched the space.

“When the purge of teacher individualism is unrestrained, eccentricity, initiate, and individuality become the casualties.” – Andy Hargreaves

 

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