I've been teaching middle school for nearly four years now—6th/7th grade language arts and social studies—and here’s one piece of advice for new teachers: style over substance. Tweens engage with panache, not nerdiness. The most powerful tool in my classroom is not the SmartBoard or our desktop computer, but the leather jacket I purchased in 2017 and have worn every day since. Here's why:
—I look cool as hell. A quick Google search tells me leather jackets "offer a timeless, classic style that conjures the rebel personas of Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp, and Mel Gibson." Not bad company! Plus, with my gun, I look like the Terminator. I also frequently remind my students that fighter pilots in World War II wore bomber jackets to protect themselves against freezing temperatures in high altitudes. Instead of the Pledge of Allegiance, I start the morning by reciting Randall Jarrell's poem "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner," and then point to myself and say "me!!" a couple times.
—My classroom is freezing. I keep the thermostat set to 59℉ and open the windows during winter because otherwise I’d get too hot in my leather jacket, though I tell my students it's because I want to simulate a "movie theater-like atmosphere," as we watch a lot of documentaries.
—It allows me to identify the fake-woke virtue signalers. My students are from Generation Z, so the majority of them are vegan. For every new class I teach, there're always one or two shitheads who call me out for wearing leather. At first I didn't know what to say, but now I calmly inform them that my Saint Laurent Black Leather Classic Moto Jacket (MRSP: $4790) was purchased secondhand (a lie), and that whatever nylon parka they're wearing carries a carbon footprint magnitudes larger. Then I yell at them for viewing veganism as a purity test, which makes them feel pretty bad.
—My favorite anime characters wear leather jackets, like Vash the Stampede and Goku in the episode where ChiChi teaches him and Piccolo how to drive. Don't tell my students about this one.
—My leather driving gloves would look creepy without a corresponding leather jacket. As I mentioned above, my classroom is freezing; my students and I have serious risk of frostbite on snowy days. That said, my Italian Peccary Cashmere-Lined Deerskin Driving Gloves would give off Ted Bundy vibes if worn on their own. As my students would say, "not a good look."
—I've invested the majority of the school's pension assets in the common stock of Tandy Leather Factory (NASDAQ: TLF), a Fort Worth-based wholesale distributor of leather products, and use my cool jacket as advertising at parent-teacher conferences to attract new capital. I plan on forming a coalition of investors to amass a majority stake in the business and assume control of operations, establishing myself as Chairman/CEO so I can move on from teaching.
—Follow Biker Smooth on Twitter: @biker_smooth