Monday, November 30, 2009

Dresscode: "Russians like mini-skirts" - Monday, 17 November 2009

One of our complaints is that there is no handbook. How are we supposed to know what we are and aren't supposed to do if there is no handbook?

As a parent, I'm also concerned that there is no handbook for students. (As a teacher, too, for I want there to be a section on discipline!)

I had been concerned before we arrived about the uniform--I knew that the school would provide the uniform, but what sort of shoes could she wear? What about the tights?

I quickly saw that there wasn't much of a code. Every day, almost every class has at least one child not in uniform--usually dressed nicely in a suit (if a boy) or a black skirt and nice blouse (if a girl). Frequently the girls have on the correct skirt but a different, but similar, top. The boys often have on different yet similar trousers.

Boots are common footwear here, but children also frequently change from boots into slip-on shoes, dress shoes, or sandals once in the classroom. Shoes are usually dark, however I've seen all sorts of colors (red being the most common after black and white).

Because it's cold, girls wear tights or leggings under their skirts. These come in a variety of colors with a variety of designs, and they wear them all. (Bright purple? Yes. Neon pink? Yes. Pictures of animals? Yes.)

The skirts are in a variety of lengths, from mini-skirt length to almost-ankle-length. Sophia's is almost-ankle-length, because I can't sew well and didn't try to hem it.

PE they wear "sports clothes"--similar to play-clothes or work-out clothes, often sweatpants and t-shirts.

So I realized that I didn't have to be too concerned about Sophia!

Monday, the vice principal came into my room and asked if I was free. I was, and so he told me that he was working on the parent handbook--hurrah!--for next year. He was writing the uniform code and needed my help with the English. (He's Turkish.)

So, first we described the girls' uniform, which seemed a tad silly to go into detail, when the uniforms had to be the ones provided by the school.

*pink, long-sleeve shirt.

It's not just a plain shirt, it's collared and made out of thick material, I kept thinking there was an official name for it, so I asked Christie, who happened to pass by at that moment. "T-shirt," she said. What!? A t-shirt is something casual, for PE. This is not a T-shirt! This is like a polo shirt, I think.

So we agreed on "pink long sleeve shirt with collar." On to

*sweater vest

I was going to go with "red" but no, the v.p. insisted, the color is bordeaux. Okay, if you say so. (The vest is like the color of a dark red wine...)

*bordeaux plaid skirt

That seemed easier, considering I already knew the color word. But then came the question of length. Yes, he did want the skirts to be below the knee, as many private schools in America require. So I wrote, "Skirt must be below the knee." He panicked--I can't say "must". "Must" is implied in the fact that this is a dress code. We must be careful not to offend people's culture. Apparently, skirt length is a cultural thing. Muslims like long skirts and Russians like mini-skirts. (That's what the v.p. said!) So let's be sensitive to other cultures and not stress the fact that we are going to require those Russians to wear longer skirts.

*tights? leggings?

We left a question mark next to those. That's undecided, as are the shoes. Probably the shoes will have to be a dark color. I was allowed to write "must not have flashing lights or wheels." Here, "must" would not offend any cultures.

I brought up jewelry and make-up, a question mark was left by those two also. I mentioned my private Catholic school and its rules (no jewelry except stud earrings, no make-up.)

On to the boys:

*light blue song-sleeve shirt with collar

Here, we had a bigger issue than we had had with the girls' bordeaux. These shirts are definitely not light blue. Can't I tell? It's turquoise!

What? Okay, maybe I can discern I hint of green in those shirts, but that's not turquoise. I had googled bordeaux to check on the color, so I googled turquoise. Turquoise is a whole lot brighter and greener than these shirts!

He said something turquoise being a Turkey color (same root word?) and I searched that on wikipedia. There doesn't seem to be much correlation. But, okay, if turquoise is the color of Turkey, and this school is run by a Kazakh-Turkish organization, then, sure, let's call those shirts turquoise. It's not like the parents are going to go out and buy the shirts on their own.

On to the vests and trousers.

What color are those? Here, he had the simple color word--navy blue--and I was insisting that that was wrong. This color has baffled me for some time--Sophia has one "bordeaux" plaid skirt and one skirt that's this color. At first I had thought it was black. But it's not. It's some deep, deep blue--deep is a better word than dark, it's a deep blue like the deepest parts of the ocean. It's like Superman's hair in the comics (but not where the blue is really obvious.)

But we settled for navy blue. I think it might be Prussian blue, but I wasn't in the mood to google any more colors. (We did google navy blue.)

Belts? I asked. He seemed confused by that. That didn't matter. Oh, but no big, flashy belt buckles. I had to laugh. I thought that problem was unique to the Southern and western USA.

I kept thinking about the Catholic school that I had attended, and so I decided to see what they had written in their handbook. The v.p. thought this was a great idea. He said he was collecting handbooks from other schools, using them as a guide as he wrote our handbook. He had a USB with him; so once I downloaded the handbook, he copied it to his USB. We quickly glanced over the long handbook. He said he knew that Catholic schools were well-known for their discipline. I pointed out a lot of the areas where it mentioned discipline; I also mentioned that they could kick out students who misbehaved. We both noticed that where it mentioned dress code, it stressed the length of the skirts.

It may yet be another year before we have a handbook, but at least one is on the way. And a little bit of St. Mary's Catholic School may be in the handbook.

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