Haircuts confuse teachers

14 Jan

Coming back to work after three weeks off for winter break is hard for many reasons. When I have that much time off, I forget how to wake up early and work all day. Usually, the week before coming back to work I will have terrible dreams about forgetting students’ names and dealing with severe discipline issues. This week was my first back after three glorious weeks off. While I didn’t forget anyone’s name and nobody got crazy with me, there was one thing that threw me through a bit of a loop.

A bunch of my students came back with new haircuts! For most, it just caused me to give them a double take, realizing that one of my students did indeed walk in the room, not an intruder from another class. For others, though, it took me more time to figure it all out. In one class, for example, I was passing back some graded papers. I gave a student back his paper, or at least I though it was his, when I came upon another paper and couldn’t find the student. I searched the room with my eyes for several minutes, trying to remember who this kid was and where he sat. Just as I was about to go check my seating chart, I realized that he had cut his long surfer/skater hair and now looked exactly like one of my other students in that same class. I had never had trouble distinguishing the two before because their hair really set them apart. But once the long hair was gone, I was officially confused. I fixed my mistake, giving each student their own papers and realized that I identify my kids by more than their faces. Hair, clothes, height, and weight all play big roles in how I remember them.
When I see my students a year or two after they were in my class, I can’t believe how much they have changed. It shouldn’t be such a surprise, though. If I look at my collection of yearbook pictures from high school, more than just my hair changed in those four years.
What are your struggles when coming back from work after a long vacation?

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