Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dress code for teachers?

Should we have a dress code for teachers? There seems to be a growing number of teachers who feel they can show up to teach wearing just about anything. But what does that say about the teacher? That they are lazy? They don't care about their appearance? Teachers really need to step up to the plate and start dressing the part. Are teachers professionals, or is is teaching just another job that one can show up wearing whatever one wants?

You can say that clothes don't matter. That teachers have a right to wear whatever feels comfortable. Maybe even that looking at clothes is kind of shallow. But I beg to differ. Our clothing gives off the first impression to people. The clothes that we make a choice to wear, each and every day in school, does indeed give off some sort of a statement. That statement is made to our students, other teachers, and certainly out principals. What kind of message are you sending? That you don't care about your appearance? That you were too lazy to put on anything better? If teachers really want to earn respect about the profession, they can start with their in-classroom wardrobe. Seriously. Why should we not want to convey the best opinion about us?

Teachers, use your style of dress as an opportunity for a teaching moment. Model good behavior and life skills to your students. Getting up in plenty of time to put on a decent set of clothes is certainly something students need to learn is valuable. It makes you employable, for one.

For some reason, teachers feel the need to be free. To dress any which way. The problem is this: We are substituting freedom for logic and reason. You can have freedom.

Freedom does not mean wearing a tank top and shorts to school. Freedom means one can choose a professional wardrobe with many options and ways to accessorize if one chooses. In fact, the more professional your wardrobe becomes, the more option and freedom you have to make a unique statement about you.

Like it our not, jeans and a t-shirt convey bum. Lazy. Non-professional.

But there is also a BIG plus for teachers who dress professional. It's about classroom respect, control, and being taken of seriously.

From day one, if you look the part, dress sharp, like you mean business and are professional, you can make quite an impression. Why would you not want every edge you can get when walking into a classroom?

So before teachers scream freedom, just think of the thoughts that go through your mind throughout the day as you pass strangers. The first impression is what they are wearing and how they are dressed. We expect doctors, nurses, bankers, even cashiers at the supermarket to look some-what professional. Why are we putting the bar lower for teachers?

And one last thing. The dress code is certainly more important as one moves up in grades. How can a high school have a dress code for students, and allow teachers to dress unprofessionally?

Just a note. Even teachers in lower grades, even kindergarten, may feel the need to dress so they can get messy. But one can also choose professional clothes no matter what the grade.

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