Friday, October 29, 2010

Diverse Demographics & An Interview

Earlier Drafts:
These T-strap heels accompanied me to Saturday brunch with my parents.
This leather belt cinched together a hybrid dressy/casual look.

turquoise button-down shirt (Old Navy)
fuchsia cardigan (Loft Petites, borrowed from sister)
brown pants (Ann Taylor Petites)
leather belt (Ann Taylor)
brown metallic T-strap heels (Anne Klein)
turquoise cuff bracelet (Leighelena in Austin, Texas, purchased at half-price)
brown leather laptop bag (gifted from mom)

Happy Friday, all!  Will you excuse my photos today?  The Mean Girls scowl on my face is courtesy of the direct sunlight, which chased me around my home's perimeter for a half-hour.  I finally found relief in a sliver of shadow on the back patio, and, welp, here are the results.  Can't win 'em all.  If only my schedule allowed for late afternoon, instead of mid-morning, outdoor photos.

Anyway, I wore this ensemble yesterday for an interview at a local private school.  It wasn't my first time meeting the administrative faculty (more on that in a moment), so I opted for a comfortable alternative to my standard blazer, this berry-hued short-sleeved cardigan.  Aren't the shirred sleeves an interesting feature?  At first I feared the girlish detailing might read too juvenile for a professional setting, but I mitigated the cutesy-ness with the collared shirt, belt, and tailored trousers.  Looking "too young" is my personal paranoia -- is it obvious yet?  What's your take on this outfit's professional register?

Also, I kind of dig this color trio.

On the having-met-the-faculty-before topic: this semester I've been serving as Assistant Ballet Teacher in the school's extracurricular program. The students and their parents are delightful, which is why I'm hoping to substitute teach during the regular school day as often as possible while I continue job hunting.  Care to share your tried-and-true strategies for successful substitute instruction?  I'd welcome them!

My latest turn in the world of arts education has me wondering about dressing to suit student demographics.  See, in addition to instructing at the aforementioned private school, I also teach ballet at a not-for-profit studio in one of the city's lower-income neighborhoods.  In fact, I teach these diverse classes back-to-back on the same day.  It makes for quite the contrast, moving from an environment of privilege to one of profound need.  Although it's true that I spend class time in a leotard and tights, I arrive in layers of street clothing.  And my students have noticed.  At the private school, they tally the number of Ralph Lauren Polo logos on my apparel; at the non-profit, they ask why I deprive my arms of bangle bracelets.  Both sets of students are acutely aware and curious of sartorial choices -- theirs and my own -- so how should I address the disparities which such choices often reveal?  What adjustments in clothing, if any, would best demonstrate social sensitivity?

  •  Have you taught students of lower-income populations?  Of higher-income populations?  How did you dress for the classroom?  How did you discuss sartorial issues with your students?
  • Any substitute teaching tips?  I'm all ears!
  • What's your take on my latest interview look?


Between Laundry Days said...

I love this outfit! It's totally professional and "grown up", but the colors and sleeve detailing keep it interesting and fun. I really love this as an interview outfit!

Sassy Molassy said...

Very interesting what children notice! They are just taking it all in. I love this look as well. Very fun, yet put together.

Katie, Interrobangs Anonymous said...

I think this is a smashing interview outfit - for any job. Love the sleeves, and the belt is the clincher (or cincher).

In museums, we have all the different demographics come through. I don't have much experience with how children from different backgrounds react to my clothing (because when I worked with the public I was always in uniform), but I have seen the socially influenced ways they react to subject matter, so noticing clothing doesn't surprise me.

Your comment about dressing for social sensitivity reminds me of a lot of the discussions we have about exhibit development and programming - you always want to keep your audience, and everything they're bring to the experience in mind (hello constructivism). However, you have to keep the truth of the experience in mind, too. We've had people ask us to change what we do/say/show to integrate with our audience, but if that change is incorrect to the truth of that experience, we won't. Should the same apply for people? Social sensitivity is a good touchstone, but you still need to be you.

Scholar Style Guide said...

Love the pants ensemble-- this is what I have been trying (and failing) to achieve with pants looks. I think the bright color makes a big impact, but I also agree that the skinny belt and the detail on the sleeves really make it work. The cuff puts it over the top into the awesome category, for me. I think it's perfect for an interview, as well: it reads as young and stylish but also professional, put together, and "you."

I'm intrigued by your discussion of these two different "audiences" and Katie's comments above about how this relates to her work at the museum. In the class I'm teaching we've been talking a lot lately about how to appropriately address your audience-- the same kind of balancing act is required in our writing. We have something interesting to say, and we have to remain consistent with that message, but we also want to do anything we can to help express that message adequately to the people we think should care about it.

When a single text (or outfit) has to address two very different audiences, it's certainly quite difficult to navigate. I don't know that I have anything particularly helpful to say about juggling the two audiences, but it sounds like both groups are engaging with you by talking openly with you (as we hope readers engage with our writing), so it seems to me like you might already be on the right track.


Scholar Style Guide said...

Cute color combo - and I'm with Liz on the sleeves.

As Liz mentioned, I think the most important thing you're doing in balancing these two audiences (in terms of clothing) is generating conversations and bringing up different topics about style and what our clothing connotes, even if not explicitly. You're a critically thinking style mentor! (Hope that makes sense)


Caitlin said...


First, I must tell you that your hair looks amazing. Second, your outfits speaks volumes. It is sophisticated and mature yet also understood by students. I think that students want to see a teacher that looks like their mom or sister. Isn't fashion all about relationships after all?

You look great!

Brooke said...

This is really interesting, Anne-Marie. I go from teaching at a private college to a community college (back to back) and do sometimes question my clothing choices. My pretty conservative, slightly preppy look is embraced at the private school, white the casual jeans and button up look is much more welcomed at the community college (and all of this is in regards to the students - I don't see a drastic difference in the faculty). My extremes aren't nearly as extreme as your extremes, but I definitely plan my outfits out with consideration for one school over the other each day (although, of course, that changes every day!). Very interesting post. And quite a lovely outfit!

Alicia said...

Hi! I am a graduate student in history and my main income is through substitute teaching for Bay Area, CA charter schools, K-Adult. My students are definitely within the low-income bracket, and there are gang issues at the high school, and even elementary school levels. Since the Bay Area is pretty trendy, I don't have to worry about being too "fashionable" as long as I am covered up and appear appropriate (and I have seen some VERY inappropriate hem lengths worn by other subs). I utilize cardigans a great deal because they can dress up a simple Tee-shirt, cozy up a dress, and make me appear like an adult on a budget. I admit, I love getting compliments from the elementary and middle school students on my outfits! As for student-sub interactions, I have been cussed out in Spanish in the classrooms, been beaten with a stick by a tantrum throwing first grader, and have had some inspiring conversations with potential first generation college students (as I myself was). Keep your sense of humor and sensitivity. Assert authority early on and do not be afraid to ask disruptive students to leave the room-it could be the thing that allows you to actually teach the lesson plan and allow the other students to learn. Always leave the regular instructor good notes. Learn names as fast as possible! Often, students will act out because they assume you cannot write them up because you don't know their names. I have found asking "why" often causes students to think about their actions. If a class was awesome, let their regular teacher know, so that they get rewarded or allow free time at the end for their respect. Most of all, good luck!

Scholar Style Guide said...

Thanks for commenting, Alicia! As a former high school teacher, I wish I could have had you as a substitute, like, every time I was out. Your advice here sounds awesome.