When I roll into the playground on my bike before there are any kids around, I don't think much about my appearance. I am primarily concerned with the day ahead of me: whose classes will be paraded in front of me, what if any special tools or materials will be needed, and are there any special adult or child interactions that are on the schedule. I am not thinking about my sartorial splendor. It's only on those rare occasions that I have to stop and chat with a student or custodian who happened to cross my path before I was ready to emerge from the cave that is my room. Standing there, astride my bike, with my helmet squashed down securely over my sweat coat hood and my gloves pulled on tight, I suddenly feel better prepared for Extra Vehicular Activity than discussing what's for lunch that day.
That's when the snickers begin. Not the candy bar. The derisive laughter. The fact that I have just ridden over two miles to come and share my knowledge with the youth of my community is sometimes obscured by the fact that I look more like a homeless scuba diver than a teacher. I know that the last thing I should do is be defensive about my appearance. I am, after all, the one who regularly counsels our kids that it doesn't matter how you look, it's what is inside that matters. I know that. But I can't help wondering what their reaction might be if I showed up in my Coolmax performance enhancing bike tights and thermal Gore-Tex outer shell and wraparound cycling goggles. Then again, maybe I can.