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January 13, 2023

What to Wear When Teaching in a Proverbial Sauna

I taught in a school built in 1871.

It’s pretty cool to say that, in theory. The school was lauded as a well-known Catholic institution focused on college preparatory education for middle to upper class students. But while our reputation for educational excellence was strong, teaching in an older building brought challenges, like radiators that bang, clatter (interrupting my class – rude) and produce blasts of heat.

Basically, I was teaching in a sauna.

In the spring and fall, we could keep windows open to create a comfortable environment, sometimes bringing in fans to circulate the air. During our Minnesota winter, the hot, humid air caused me to have strings of bad hair days, we had to dress for below-zero weather outside, and then go on to teach inside. Students became sleepy and wilted, succumbing to the heat by napping or disengaging, and frankly, I wanted to join them.

If you’re teaching in a sauna disguised as a classroom, fear not! We’ve put together 5 tips to ensure you and your students avoid becoming overheated while teaching and learning.

1. Cardigans and lightweight jackets are your best friends when it comes to regulating your body temperature; it’s not a coincidence so many teachers have cardigans draped over the back of their chairs (we see you and affirm you). Express yourself with your old letter jacket, tracksuit top, or even an army jacket from the thrift store. Pair these ideas with our next suggestion…

2. Wear a short-sleeved or sleeveless top under another layer. Do: wear the graphic t-shirt with Sesame Street or a positive quote. Don’t: roll out your old “Sex Pistols” concert tee (students won’t get it, and admin may find it questionable at best).

3. Find wicking fabrics that can keep you cool, and maybe grab that terrycloth headband that says, “Vigorous Teaching In Action” to keep you from beading up on your brow. Yes, we really are suggesting athletic clothes for your classroom wear; teaching is a workout!

4. Get yourself one of these beauties or a handheld fan—you can pretend it’s a scepter for the Queen or King Teacher you are! For your classroom: bring in a fan or another cooling device to revive your students and keep the air moving.

5. Stay hydrated with a sweet water bottle and encourage your students to do the same.

You’ve got the fashion sense and style, just add your teaching magic! No matter what your space looks like, these 5 tips can keep you and your students comfortable for engaging in the important work of learning, even in a building from 1871!


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