Friday, June 17, 2016

The Clothing Crisis of a Frustrated Teacher: Is Clothing Rental a Solution?

[A quick note: This is not a sponsored post and I'm in no way affiliated with Gwynnie Bee or Le Tote  -- just a stressed out teacher searching for solutions to make life easier.]

No. No. No. Maybe.  Frantically, I push through the clothes in my closet, ever mindful of the clock.  I am now 15 minutes behind schedule. And I still have nothing to wear.

Out of options, I dump the clothes out of the hamper and grab one of my favorite blouses. It has some glue on it, and a streak of marker, but those disappear with a bit of Tide to Go, a stream of tap water, and some persistent scrubbing.

Finally out the door, I am now 20 minutes late. Forget coffee and breakfast. I just need to get the library open before the bell rings.

And therein began a typical day during the school year.  I hated the self-imposed stress of getting dressed, almost as much as I hated my wardrobe. I needed a different strategy.  I needed a resolution to my daily clothing crisis.

The biggest issue (then and now) is that I’m working on losing weight, and many of my basics are baggy or hideously outdated. I don’t want to invest a bunch of money in clothes that (hopefully!) won’t fit in six months.

At the beginning of the summer, I decided to take the plunge and try clothing rental.

Have you heard about the companies that rent clothes?  I’d been lurking on a couple of websites and was intrigued by the idea. Think of it as Netflix for clothes. 

Here’s the basic concept:
  • Pick out clothes in my suggested size.
  • Add them to my “closet”.
  • Try them out.
  • If I like them, I have an option to buy them (at a reduced price). If not, I send them back and get some new ones.
  • No washing. They take care of dry cleaning for me.
  • Easy shipments with packaging and return labels provided.
What’s not to like?

Uh….how about the money?  The question was, “Could I afford to rent clothes during my weight loss journey?” I decided to try it out over the summer rather than buying things that would only fit for a few months.

For the last month, I’ve been subscribing to Gwynnie Bee and Le Tote.  I can't afford to keep both subscriptions, so I wanted to give them both a try for a month and decide which works best for me. Not surprisingly, they each have pros and cons.

My plan includes 3 articles of clothing out-at-a-time for $95 a month.

  • Plan Options: I choose 3 articles at a time, but I could decrease or increase that number and adjust my subscription.
  • Sizes 10-32: Lots of options for clothes that fit me right now (I’m at the low end of plus sizes and at the high end of regular sizes).
  • Styles: lots of options; I can choose what works for me.
  • Reviews: I like seeing what other women say about the clothes before I “closet” them.
  • Shipping: free, expedited shipping. They start processing my next shipment as soon as I send something back.
    • I generally return things on Monday and have new clothes to wear on Thursday. That translates to about 10-12 outfits a month, unless I wear something multiple times.
  • Returns: I don’t have to send the whole order back. I can hold on to an item to continue wearing it.
  • Choice: I don’t get to choose what I want in each shipment. They chose from my closet. So, if I need something for a specific event (say, a wedding), I have to prioritize the item I want and hope it gets selected in time.
  • Sizes: eventually I won’t be able to wear most of their clothes (that’s the plan, anyway).
  • Styles: Some of the clothes are clear “misses.” There’s a lot of stuff I would never wear.

My latest shipment from Gwynnie Bee.

My plan includes five items (two accessories, three articles ofclothing) out-at-a-time for $59 a month. They also have a maternity option for $69 a month.


  • Styles: really cute clothes and accessories. They give me something to motivate me to keep losing weight.
  • Accessories: I have to admit, I’m not a big accessories gal, but I’ve been having fun trying out things I wouldn’t normally buy because they seem unnecessary.
  • Choice: a stylist presents my options (not necessarily from my closet) for each shipment. I can swap out choices until I’m happy with my “tote.”


  • Sizes: I’m at the high end of what they offer, so I don’t have many choices right now.
  • Reviews: No reviews from other shoppers.
  • Shipping: also has free, expedited shipping, but…I returned boxes to both companies on the same day. Le Tote’s new shipment arrived two days after Gwynnie Bee's.
  • Returns: I have to send the whole order back. I can’t hold on to an individual item, unless I want to buy it.

My latest shipment from Le Tote.

A month in, I’m loving the clothing rental strategy. I have cute clothes I can wear a few times and then return. So far, I haven’t experienced the “eww” factor of wearing clothes that other people have worn – the clothes I’ve received have been clean and fresh, and honestly, like new.

How long will I continue? I’m not sure. I plan to lose a lot of weight (stay tuned...), so I don’t want to revamp my own wardrobe for at least a year. In the meantime, I’ll continue with renting from Gwynnie Bee and put my Le Tote account on hold until I’m a smaller size.

Think you might be interested in trying it out? Click on the links and check it out. If you decide to try it, we’ll both get credits to our accounts.

Gwynnie Bee
Le Tote

Monday, June 13, 2016

Cute Doesn’t Cut It in Teacher-Created Curricula

The classroom was buzzing with activity. Students happily chatted away while cutting out construction paper figures, occasionally glancing at the teacher’s sample to figure out how to put the snowman together. It was winter, and students were creating snowmen. On the snowman, they were to attach a round writing template and write about a favorite winter activity.

By all appearances, the students were making great progress. They were accomplishing their tasks with independence, building fine motor skills, and they were writing. Accommodations could easily be made for students; one might dictate a single sentence to an adult, while another might write a paragraph. But something was missing.

“Hmmm….” I pondered.  “What’s the point?”

While the students were clearing clearly enjoying the project, very little learning was actually going one. There hadn’t been a writing lesson preceding the craft project. And, students would not be receiving feedback on their writing or expected to revise their work. Rather, the snowmen would be posted in the hall as a cute bulletin board displaying student work. That was the point. It was cute.

Therein lies the problem with “activity-based lessons” – those lessons that are designed to keep students busy and create something cute to take home. In this age of increased expectations, cute doesn’t cut it.

When teachers design curriculum to use with their students, it is essential that they have a clear, objective-based purpose for each lesson.  Otherwise the lesson becomes a time-filler.

Think of the classroom as a cruise ship.  The passengers (students) are headed to a destination (the learning objective). The captain’s job is to navigate to the destination.

The teacher is the captain of the ship, not the activities director. It’s the teacher’s job to guide students to accomplish goals, not to simply fill the day with fun activities. We set goals that are based on clear objectives. Without having a destination in mind, we could find ourselves wandering aimlessly in the vast ocean of education.

Creating curriculum is one of the great joys of being teacher, and teacher-created curriculum is clearly the most beneficial to our students. We know what our students know and what they need to know. We need keep in mind that with the creative outlet that curriculum development gives us, we have a responsibility to keep our lessons focused on our goals. Because lessons that have that cute factor (and nothing else) just don’t cut it.