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Halloween has always been tough for me as a physical education teacher. Don’t get me wrong. I love the holiday and the enthusiasm it infuses in the kids. I’m sure you can relate to the energy generated when we introduce Halloween-themed games! More than anything, I enjoy listening to the kids’ banter about their dress-up plans and then seeing them proudly wear their costumes on the big day.
Every year it seems ALL teachers come to school donned in well-thought-out costumes they have been planning and designing since November 1…THE PREVIOUS YEAR.
That’s a lot of pressure!
Then, there’s my approach. I ALWAYS wait until the last minute to decide what I’m going to be. I’m the guy scrambling through Goodwill, the weekend prior to Halloween, hoping to discover any source inspiration! Once that fails, I nervously scroll the internet. Nothing! Then the seasonal costume shop, the attic, the basement, the bottom of my drawers, back to Goodwill! Still nothing.
There were several years early in my career when I would reach in my closet, grab my go-to orange flannel shirt and a pair of Timberland boots and call myself a Lumberjack. Other years, I would wear an orange turtleneck with black pants. I would hear, “Are you a pumpkin?’ or “What are you?” Lame. Finally, back in 2000 something with about 10 hours before the School’s Halloween Parade I became a Google costume genius and tied a leaf to the bill of my baseball cap and called myself a “leaf-blower”. I can definitely do better than that.
For some reason, one year, my team and I decided to plan our costumes for Halloween. By planning, I mean we brought up the subject as early as October 1st. As a team, we’d dress up based on a common theme. One time we each dressed up as four iPhone apps including Twitter, Evernote, Facebook, and Bleacher Report. It was cute, maybe even creative, and pretty well received. But we needed something new, something funny, something easy, something unforgettable. What to do, what to do?
One night while watching the Goldbergs TV show, I saw the following clip.
Once I saw Coach Mellor in action, I knew what we had to do.
We unanimously decided to go retro. We would dress up like the physical education teachers who taught each of us when we were in elementary school. Each of us recalled similar outfits: tube socks, white sneakers, tight polyester shorts, snug polo shirts or 3/4 length sleeve baseball shirts, wrist bands, and dark or mirror-lensed glasses. We each had a month to put together our outfits.
The result was legendary. We each concocted our version of Coach Mellor. The moment we stepped into the gym, heads spun around and stared. The kids were more confused than anything else. After all, how would they understand the context? The only PE teachers they ever knew were us, the ones they’ve seen every day. It was our colleagues and parents who looked on with either pleasure or the “What the hell?” look. Some were laughing hysterically and others with jaws dropped, did not know what to think. As funny as we looked, our costumes stimulated conversation. Our peers shared stories about their own PE teachers growing up, which ultimately lead to stories or their experiences in “gym class”, as PE was often called back in the day. Not only did we look the part, but as we were getting more and more attention we began an over-the-top, completely stereotypical impersonation of the old-school “gym” teacher. According to our memories, all PE teachers spoke with a slow, southern drawl, loved to play dodge ball, wore sunglasses both inside and outside, and NEVER smiled. This was, of course, according to the fictional characters we were portraying.
If you’re stumped and need a costume that will be a SMASH hit, then consider the RETRO PE TEACHER! You’ll have a blast. In fact, you’ll be totally tubular!