It was a regular day of teaching for Juan Gonzalez—or so he thought.
He’s a third grade teacher in Dickinson, Texas, and while his students were unpacking their things one morning, he heard a whisper. It wasn’t just the usual “my dog did the funniest thing” kind of whisper. It was serious with a hint of drama.
“I saw Mr. G in shorts,” one girl secretly told her classmates.
He thought back to the weekend where he had seen one of his students at Target with her mom—and yes, he was wearing shorts. (By the way, they were typical khaki shorts—not biker spandex or super short.)
“It was a very casual meeting,” he says. “She didn’t mention my shorts at all. We hugged. We talked about our weekend. And that was it.”
He went over to the group of students talking about the shorts encounter. “Hey what are you talking about?” he asked.
“Mr. G—why? Why do you have shorts?”
He laughed but didn’t really have an answer for her. “I don’t know. I just do.”
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A Writing Lesson
Mr. G continued his day. His school is departmentalized, so his focus is on writing, reading, and literacy. He had a new writing exercise he wanted his students to try for the day.
“We’d been writing personal narratives,” he says. “And most recently, we’d been talking about taking the small moments in life and writing about them. I want my students to see how they can take a small seed or detail and make a story out of it.”
As he was explaining the assignment to his students, the girl who had seen him in shorts had a light bulb moment. “I’m going to write about that time I saw you in shorts!” she said.
The result was a hilarious, entertaining essay with the final line, “That day, I learned Mr. G does have shorts at home to wear.”
A Love of Reading and Writing
While the shorts incident has created quite a laugh for Mr. G and his followers on social media, he loves that it’s getting people talking about writing.
“Writing and reading have been huge drivers for me in what I want to instill in my students,” he says. “People say ‘Wow, you have funny students,’ but I think if you just let your students be themselves and write, they’ll do great things. When my students come into our writing workshop, they’re not just students—they’re authors.”
Mr. G says his goal is to get all of his students to start a reading and writing life. Even with all the technology to compete with, he believes it’s incredibly vital and definitely possible. “The research tells us how important it is,” he says. “So any way that I can make reading and writing exciting is important to me.”
As for wearing shorts in public, he will continue to, even at the risk of seeing his students. It is Texas after all. “I guess it was just too much leg for her,” he says with a laugh.
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