Friday, May 2, 2014

Year 4: Week 32 - Dress Code

Does it really matter how teachers dress?

Everyday I wear a pair of jeans, a dress shirt and a pair of running shoes. Sometimes I wear a vest when there's a sing-along or a dress jacket when I need to attend a more formal meeting.

Here's my logic: I need to wear something slightly more formal so that students see me as an older professional. I wear jeans because I teach elementary school students and I often sit on the floor. And the running shoes, are a throwback to a previous teaching job . . .

Before I came to this school I was a one to one special education assistant teacher. One of the students I worked with was a "flight-risk." This meant that this student had a history of trying to run out of the building. The principal recommended that I wear running shoes just in case he tried to run away again. I did end up chasing him down twice. After some time, I just got used to wearing running shoes. It's better for my feet and it makes me feel more prepared for any situation that may arise.

At the first school I taught, we were asked to dress in business casual four days a week and then on Fridays you could wear jeans and a polo shirt. Most days I wore khakis, a dress shirt, a tie and matching causal shoes. I didn't really mind dressing this way but it did make for a lot of ironing. Also, the tie would start to feel heavy after long days. The school where I started wearing running shoes was less formal and jeans were pretty common. There were some outlines for how teachers should dress but it was pretty open ended.

There are teachers at current my school that wear t-shirts and some teachers come to school everyday in a dress suit. Other people wear ties every day and some teachers wear thermal long sleeve shirts underneath plaid shirts.

Some people are surprised by the lack of formality at my school but this freedom allows teachers to more authentically present who they are and create an atmosphere that better suits the teacher's individual style.

A school's motivation to have their faculty dress more formally reflects a school’s values. Does a school value individuality? Does an administrator want all of the teachers to discipline students the exactly same way? Does a group of teachers feel that professional dress helps teachers feel more comfortable when they enter a school?

These are important questions ask. Appearances are not the most important part of what teachers do but they communicate a lot of information. How we dress reflects our professional and the way we view ourselves.

It’s worth questioning your administration for their reasons behind their professional dress guidelines and it’s worth reflecting the choices you make every morning when you get dressed for school.

1 comment:

  1. I think teachers should dress more the casual side. Instructors have to stand most of the day and dress just wont do. It's great that you get to dress in a way the reflects you personally.