by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
DON’T forget about comfort and mobility
No matter how amazing the costume is, you still have to teach in this all day, so anything that’s really hot or prevents you from sitting down is a probably a bad idea. The costume might be great, but your day will NOT be.
Some common costumes like this are gumball machine, grapes or bag of M&Ms; really, anything that involves a box or a garbage bag filled with something could be uncomfortable.
DO coordinate team costumes with your teaching team or entire class
Everything’s more fun as a team. I’ve heard entire classes doing 101 Dalmatians or teaching teams being a coven of witches. It makes even classic costumes more fun and lends itself to adorable photo ops.
DON’T go controversial
Dressing as historical villains (the Hitler costume is just awkward), a colleague or the principal (unless they have a great sense of humor and even then it’s dicey), anything political or scandalous will get you talked about for all the wrong reasons. Also, be careful with store-bought costume because women’s ones tend to take a more revealing turn on the holiday than you’re looking for. (historical villain tip from John Spencer via twitter)
DO remember your audience
Unfortunately, any costumes referencing movies, TV shows, books or pop culture from the 70s, 80s or 90s (not covered in your class) will likely be lost on your students. My favorite costume of all time was being the Georgia Peaches from A League of Their Own, with an entire team and Jimmy Dugan. I’m guessing that would get a lot of blank stares and “Baseball players don’t wear skirts” in front of the classroom.
Exception: This rule can be discarded if you want to use your costume to jumpstart a conversation in the classroom!
DON’T overlook the basics
Animals, bees, ladybugs, trees, scarecrows, witches, or athletes show you’re fun and Halloween-friendly without taking a toll on your time or your wallet. Just color-coordinate and add some accessories (ears or antennas, leaves, hat, or jersey & eye black) and you’re ready to rock Halloween!
I am pretty sure that a Hitler costume is more than just “awkward,” but maybe I am overthinking it.
Moreover, I wonder how folks in other nations would respond to seeing American teachers dressed as gumball machines or movie characters.