Google Analytics, Feedburner and a few other programs give me solid data about traffic on this site. Some pieces tank, some get consistent attention – and it’s anything but an exact science.
One of the posts that has truly surprised me was a brief bit on teachers dressing professionally [re-posted below]. I wrote it in March of last year after spending a day in a public high school and it’s as true – if not truer – today as it was a year ago.
But I did leave something out of the original post.
The day that I wrote it, three separate students asked me if I was rich. It happened frequently at this small-city school.
What made me look so wealthy? A white shirt, a tie, slacks – all clean and pressed properly – and polished shoes. That’s it. Nothing fancy.
The most basic standards of professional dress were so far above and beyond what passed for normal teacher attire in this school that many of the students assumed I was wealthy. I felt bad for the district when I realized that.
A committee of teachers and administrators convened by superintendent Heather Fiorentino, who identified the issue as a problem, completed its review of teacher dress Thursday by deciding that there really is no problem.
The group agreed that attire matters, even suggesting that it deserves a prominent mention in new teacher training. But it deemed the district’s current policy, which says the staff should dress in a manner that “will add dignity to the educational profession,” as quite sufficient.
The committee suggested that the rare cases involving inappropriate attire can be addressed by the principal.
General George Patton said that you must, “Always do everything you ask of those you command.” Maintaining a professional appearance and demeanor in a school is an important part of education. If a teacher doesn’t demonstrate the utmost pride in their appearance and respect for themselves, no one should expect the students to follow suit.
That means a teacher must:
- Dress neatly, wearing professional attire that shows students that you care about your appearance and are proud of it.
- Wear clean, ironed clothing. Dirty, wrinkled clothes are the most prevalent (and needless) problem I see in schools. If you don’t like ironing, buy a bottle of wrinkle releaser. It’s $3 and works in 30 seconds.
- Have a variety of outfits – don’t wear the same thing every day. You need not have an extensive wardrobe, just some standard tops/bottoms and a basic knowledge of how they can go together. If you don’t know how to do this, ask your sister, mom, or stylish co-worker. They’ll be glad to help. [If you're a male teacher, make use of ties to mix up your appearance.]
- Conceal any obnoxious additions to your body, e.g. tattoos and piercings. This is not as obvious to many as it ought to be.
- Wear clothes that fit. Clothes that are too tight, loose or revealing are distracting and reflect poorly on you.
- Avoid “business casual” attire when possible. It looks lazy. It’s the equivalent of getting a grade of C. You know, just enough to get by without taking too much heat for it.
- Keep current. You don’t need to read GQ or Elle every month to look good. If your clothes are out of style, stop wearing them to school. Students don’t take you seriously if you wear badly outdated clothes.
If you want respect, you’d better look and act as though you deserve it. A well-dressed teacher suggests (actually, it’s more like “screams”) that there is an important purpose for his/her presence in the class. To most adults, clothes reflect a person’s seriousness of purpose – and they’re right. Kids think in more simplified terms; they’re even more likely to equate a well-dressed teacher with seriousness.
There is no excuse – none – for being a teacher and not dressing well. It is a necessary part of the job with which you are charged (and which you have chosen). Your personal preferences and comforts mean far less than the students’ rights to encounter positive examples of adult behavior. Think you can’t afford to dress well? Saturday I spent $95 at Macy’s and got a suede jacket, a tweed suit coat, a microfiber windbreaker, two pairs of dress slacks and two chic ties.
The Education Wonks sum it up well when they say, “Maybe it would be a good idea if those who wanted to be treated as “professionals” dressed professionally.”
If you don’t want to take it from me, take it from the high school girl who last week called me “divalicious.“