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c6g c6g is offline
 
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Appropriate Dress, Part 2
Old 05-14-2019, 09:22 AM
 
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A couple weeks ago, there was a discussion about appropriate dress for teachers which generated over 30 responses. It's a subject I've often thought about, but I'd like to look at it differently from many who responded to the earlier post. Some say, "Always dress professionally." Others say, "I need to be able to wear what's comfortable, and because I work with young children, very casual clothing works best."

It turns out that both sides might be right!

I've always wondered if students, female and male, are affected in any way by the clothing choices we make. There have been some studies on the subject, although I'm not sure how many have been done recently. Here's one from 1992. Although it might be a bit dated, I think many of its conclusions still have validity.
https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED347151.pdf

The study mentions three types of teacher dress, casual, moderate, and conservative.
For younger students, having a teacher in conservative clothing could be real turn off, and a teacher is probably best off dressing casually or moderately. In the older grades, things change somewhat, and the moderately or conservatively dressed teacher might be at an advantage.

As a man, I spent most of my regular teaching career in schools where I had to be very firm in order to be effective. I discovered that very conservative clothing helped, and I noticed that many of the other teachers, male and female, also dressed conservatively. The most effective teachers had this look.

Since I retired and started subbing in other districts, conservative clothing choices aren't always necessary. When I'm with younger grades, I'll often wear casual pants (never jeans) and a polo shirt, and it seems to work. When I'm with older students, I'll often have a slightly more dressed-up look (no tie), and again, I've been pleased with the results.

There has been a lot of discussion about woman's clothing, but I'd like to make an observation about the contrasting clothing choices of two male teachers I've known. The first was someone who had been teaching for a long time, mostly in third grade, but he taught first grade in his last few years of teaching. He was very traditional, always wearing dress shoes, dress pants, and shirt and tie. The look was a bit too formal for his first graders, and I don't think they ever really warmed up to him. The second teacher taught middle school (not PE), and he dressed very casually. His classroom control was often lacking, and I think his choice of attire was a factor. On warm days I'd sometimes see him wearing a tee shirt, shorts, and old gym shoes. I'm not sure how others felt, but I didn't like it. What if the middle school teacher had dressed like the first grade teacher, and the first grade teacher had dressed like the middle school teacher? That would have been an interesting experiment!


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Old 05-14-2019, 05:28 PM
 
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Interesting comments about male teacher clothing. I don’t think I have seen any man other than lawyers wearing a suit and tie. Even our bankers wear polo shirts.

My guess is it has a lot to do with the region you live in. I’m in so cal and it is very common for male and female teachers to wear shorts and sandals on hot days. I know that many other areas do not allow jeans. Jeans are a mainstay of our wardrobe. We will dress in “teacher clothes” for open house but casual is definitely the norm.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:04 PM
 
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I agree with sonoma. My P generally wears jeans and a Cowboys jersey, unless he has a meeting. And he is highly respected throughout the district.

I truly don't think clothes matter. It is who you are, how you conduct yourself that matters. I truly don't think my Kinders could tell you if I wore jeans or a skirt today. How I treat them, how I teach them, THAT'S what they recall.

It's all so much judgey noise.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:18 PM
 
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Quote:
judgey noise
or not, I think clothing does matter in certain situations, whether we think it should or not. I think a p wearing jeans and a sports jersey who is a male might garner more respect than a female wearing the same clothing. Make that female someone with less experience, that respect factor is going to go down even more.

I do think age of students can make a difference, too.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:22 PM
 
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Anyone who wants to think I am not a good teacher because I wear jeans and flip flops is welcome to be wrong.


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Old 05-14-2019, 06:42 PM
 
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I’ve never understood why “professional attire” means “uncomfortable”.

Personally, I hate jeans and t-shirts. They’re easy. That’s about it. I’m far more comfortable in dresses or dress pants.

I’ve known teachers who never wore anything besides jeans, t-shirts, and tennis shoes who were great and some who were terrible. Same for dressing up. Some who dress up are really good teachers, and others really struggle.
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Scrubs
Old 05-14-2019, 09:28 PM
 
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I wish teachers wore scrubs like the medical profession. I dressed up like a nurse one Halloween and it was such a wonderfully comfortable day! It would eliminate having to decide what to wear and they wash up nicely. They have such cute prints now. I don’t really like jeans because I have gotten heavy and I feel like a sausage in a too tight casing, even in my big jeans. I think others look cute in them. I just don’t like me in them. I don't care what others wear as long as they wear it well, feel good in it, and are nice to others. Not everyone has a ton of money for an Ann Taylor wardrobe. My P can afford that and she is always impeccable dressed with smart twin sets and polished loafers. Me...I sometimes look pretty frumpy, but my coworkers like me and my students like me and I can crawl on the floor to retrieve pencils and glue sticks from underneath tables and not worry about dry cleaning bills. I say you do you, just be nice to others.
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Old 05-15-2019, 04:26 AM
 
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70primrose, I work at an elementary school with a biomedical/veterinary choice program. Our students AND teachers have the option to wear scrubs with the school logo on them. They are great for those days you are doing something messy, or when you are running late and just need to throw something on.
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Old 05-15-2019, 05:00 AM
 
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Love it! I would wear them all the time!
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All anecdotal.
Old 05-15-2019, 10:45 AM
 
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I don't think the what a teacher wears has any bearing on students' learning, unless the clothing is distracting.
My sons had a gifted teacher who wore costumes and had hair dyed about 5 different colors. She was amazing and highly respected.
I teach 4th grade, and my wardrobe is dependent on weather and my mood. I have recently bought into the legging trend, so many days I wear comfortable dressing with colorful leggings. Other days I wear slacks and a dressy blouse. Some days it's jeans and a blouse. I don't care for T-shirts, so I dont wear them.


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Old 05-16-2019, 04:06 AM
 
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In the grand scheme of things, this is (or at least could be) a discussion about cultural norms, etc. and we might dig into the archives and reminisce a bit about Vance Packard's "Hidden Persuaders." Our environment does impact us and that includes how the people around us are dressed. There are reasons police officers wear uniforms that are designed the way they are.

And no, I'm not suggesting that for schools, although school uniforms in parochial and private schools do seem to have an interesting impact.

I know one male high school teacher who dresses very differently--I don't recall ever seeing him without a tie and jacket. He's truly a "character" and the kids seem to love that character. Personally, I go with cargo pants (practical) and dress shirts (golf style shirts on hot days) that I have embroidered with my name and an "educational" style logo. I joke that it's my tax deduction but the kids love them and they actually get the idea that I love learning from the logo. (I mostly work in elementary/middle school.) So I've become somewhat "branded" as a result.

In other words, to some extent, I believe our manner of dress is a personal decision that simply requires some thought. There's an old saying "Clothes don't make the man." But they do contribute to the impression we make. Part of my outfit is that I do my best to always wear a smile. I suspect that's more important than what I have on my feet.

Somewhere between personal identity and "norms" there's a place that works.
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Old 05-17-2019, 05:08 PM
 
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I think we should always be neat and professional. I don't know how we can ask to be treated like professional and ask for pay raises then come to work in jeans and jerseys. You can call me elitist. I am. I am a professional. Not a clown or a babysitter.
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Old 05-18-2019, 04:49 PM
 
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Quote:
You can call me elitist. Not a clown or a babysitter.

I won't call you anything of those things. I also won't call you a Kindergarten teacher!
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