It seems every time I sub I fill a different role. I can't tell if I'm subconsciously emphasizing certain aspects of my personality just to test out student responses, if aggregate classroom attitudes really vary this much, or if I can blame the following on the clothes I wear.
As discussed in my last post, I recently wore a bow tie to a middle school. Some students took to calling me "Mr. Bowtie." I think it's catchy. The immediate impression of eccentricity seemed to make my eccentric moments (lapses in memory or a candid admission of how I can be both boring and fun) more humorous to the students.
The next day I subbed I returned home feeling like I had "Mr. Accessible" written across my forehead. That's not dirty. It means that on that day, students (high school) were incredibly accepting of me due to an unusually lenient attitude of mine. While students were working on projects with computers, I would walk around the class and help, chat, or correct as needed. I was caught by surprise once when I walked passed a student who abruptly closed the lid of his friend's laptop and I chuckled automatically. Both kids were surprised by my reaction and we all laughed. I soon said that I was willing to laugh "because I know that it won't happen again," which I followed with a friendly glare. Another boy once got up to go distract some others and, while walking, had to hold up his pants to keep them from falling off completely. I said, so the whole class could hear, "Hey, _____, I was going to tell you to wear a belt, but as I see you have one on, I suppose you just don't know how they work." Everyone laughed, including him, and he returned to his seat to work and remained on good terms with me for the class. At the end of the day I found myself giving a bit of a pep talk to a [stoner] student who sought me out for a question. We talked for a few minutes and he seemed very receptive. I like the accessible approach.
Today, I was a sub in an elementary music classroom. I worked with three kindergarten classes (and some other older ones) and officially never want to spend consecutive days with students under 11. One was fine, more would be crazy. My mind is not suited for tiny children. It is today that I felt like "Mr. Who?" My last name really isn't very hard, and I'm happy if students use its initial, but I got the blankest stares from students today when I introduced myself, and was just "Mister! Mister!" or "man with long hair" for most of the day.
I almost forgot that I mentioned clothes at the beginning of this and then only mentioned the bow tie as something relevant. I always wear a tie, and I arrive and leave school with a sport coat (which I often have on during the day too). Importantly, while the tie and coat set me apart (especially from HS students) as mature and educated, certain friends of mine have made sure I can also coordinate my clothes well enough to be accepted by the modern fashion standards of twenty-somethings. I think it's this combination of both youth and maturity in my first impression that enables the kinds of interactions discussed above.