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Does it Matter What Teachers Wear?

Does it Matter What Teachers Wear?

Pat Hensley

This week I worked at a charity golf tournament and was given some dress code information. No blue jeans allowed but white, khaki, or blue slacks/capris/shorts are allowed. Ladies were warned not to wear their shorts too short. Even on a golf course there are requirements!

I think what you wear to work is very important. There are appropriate dress for different kinds of occupations. Doctors and Nurses wear their kind of clothes. Construction workers wear the clothes that work best for their kind of work.

Teachers have a certain dress that they should wear

I started off teaching in a self contained class for students with emotional disabilities. I was told to wear tshirts and blue jeans which I did for 3 years. Then I switched to high school where no blue jeans or tshirts were allowed. What a difference it made. It made a difference in how I felt about myself and also how the students saw me.

I felt more confident and self assured. I felt better about myself and what I was hoping to do by teaching. I wanted to make a difference and I felt I was now in a position to do so. I think by changing how I dressed was a step in the right direction. By dressing professionally I was also showing that I respect myself and I expect others to respect me also.

Now students saw me as a role model. By dressing this way, I was making an impression on what students thought and how they saw the world. They could see that there are different ways to dress for different types of situations.

When I helped my students get a job at a local fast food restaurant, there was a requirement that boy’s pants had to be pulled up and they had to wear a belt around their pants. At first my boys were resistant to this dress code but they complied. As soon as they got their first pay check and saw what their actions resulted in, I never had a problem with sagging pants any more.

Even dressing for the prom requires something different than every day dress. Students have an opportunity to dress in formal clothes. This is actually a wonderful learning experience for teenagers. Not only do they learn how to dress for a different situation but they also learn social skills for this.

I really feel it is a shame that employers need to tell teachers that they need to dress professionally. I think it falls in the same category as having to tell an employee to arrive to work on time, be prepared to work, and do their job correctly. None of this should have to be said. I think when teachers need to be told these things; it really demeans the teaching profession. By needing to be told this, others get the message that we don’t care about what we do.

For me, dressing professionally means dressing in nice business clothes. I would not wear these clothes to do yard work or play. It involves wearing nice pants/tops or dresses that I don’t normally wear to hang around the house. It is clothes that make people look at me and say I value and respect my profession.

How do you feel about dressing professionally? Please share.

Teaching weighs in What Teachers Should Never (Ever!) Wear


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