As a fifth-year teacher, I confess there are many things about teaching I still haven’t mastered. However, I have perfected the art of picture day. Not being the least bit photogenic, I was not born a fan. I had to tough out eleven years of embarrassing school pictures before I could hire a professional photographer – with serious airbrush skills – to create some decent-looking senior photos.
For the next four years I naively believed I’d put his all behind me, using professional headshots for resumes and junior recital posters.
My First Year Teaching
Unfortunately, I was in for a rude awakening when I stepped on the gym floor for my first picture day as a teacher. I made the photographer retake my picture four times before she sent me away with a staff ID that I was still not pleased with. I threw my ID in a random drawer and left it there to die, thanking God that Chipotle a would also accept a pay stub as proof of employment on Teacher Appreciation Day.
Of course, I had forgotten it was picture day. I arrived dressed on the edge of business casual and totally homeless.
In a panic, I tore through the theater dressing room for makeup to help salvage my face, but to no avail. Instead, I came across a pair of giant, nerdy glasses that we had used for a character in our school play the previous year. I put them on and they looked ridiculous… and I loved it.
I decided that in order to preserve my delicate self-esteem, I would try to look awkward and ridiculous in future school pictures so at least I could claim that I don’t actually look like that.
Years Three and Four
In 2014, I decided to take my picture day outfit up a notch: I added a dress with adorable little Siamese cats printed all over it and a frumpy sweater.
At that point, I decided that picture day needed to have a different theme every year.
Last year, I added in some props and dragged other staff members into my shenanigans. The band director and I were taking our students to Disney World that year, so we both decked ourselves out in Mickey gear for picture day.
This year, most of the middle school teachers have gotten involved in the picture day shenanigans. I wish I could say it was my idea, but one of the teachers suggested that a whole group of us try a “Brady Bunch” frame where we’re all looking in towards the center (which will have greater benefits in the yearbook than on my staff ID). Hopefully, I didn’t screw it up…
I am not the first, nor will I be the last teacher to take a crazy school photograph. It’s a rich tradition which I am glad to share with you: please feel free to copy any of these ideas or adapt them to fit your own style. Raid your school’s costume closet, pull out the ‘80s marching band uniforms, and/or get your coworkers in on it—or don’t, it’s your call.
I just like taking dumb photos. It turns something I didn’t like into something I look forward to. Perhaps a goofy ID photo makes me more approachable to some students who are as excited about picture day as I was. I know it breaks up a lot of end-of-the-year tension and stress when I see myself looking like a total dork in the yearbook. My plan for 2017 is to nail my handstand so they’ll let me take my photo upside down. We’ll see what happens with that!
Victoria Bailey is a middle school and high school choral director in the beautiful town of Lyons, Colorado. She graduated from the University of Colorado – Boulder in 2012 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education.
Aside from teaching, Victoria enjoys staying in shape and eating sushi burritos as much as she can… even though those two activities completely cancel each other out.