“It is important to maintain a professional presence as educators and one of the ways we can do that is through what we wear to work.” – Rebecca Mieliwocki
Just as appropriate manners are widely desirable over impoliteness, dressing professionally should be considered the norm among teachers. Isn’t it obvious that professional dress attire and appropriate manners are one in the same?
For those who refuse to see the importance in a physical appearance, there is a reality of dress. As you are aware, it is hard to overcome a poor first impression, regardless of your profession, skill or expertise. 99% of the time, your first impression is derived as a result of how you dress. Although all professionals should look the part, Teachers, you are definitely professionals—in a career that molds the future and saves lives. Most people take offense to teachers who dress too casually in the classroom for it sends the nonverbal message that “What I’m doing here really isn’t that important,” or worse, “the people for whom I’m doing it aren’t really that important.” Your professional credibility and your potential performance as a teacher will all be based on a first meeting with colleagues, administrators, parents, and children.
There is a place for casual attire— i.e., after-school, at home, the beach and weekends. These are times when it is suitable to let your hair down, stroll around in your flip-flops, relax and have fun. School is a place of business, work and learning. A Teacher can set that expectation with the appropriate attire and may very well find that the students will measure up to the atmosphere created. Students will mirror their teacher’s professionalism with their attitudes, habits, and behavior. Some of your students may even start dressing for success!
It is my belief that people who bemoan professional dress codes, do so out of self-interest. But what they don’t realize is that a sophisticated look, really is, means and does so much more for you! Research indicates that people who dress for success are more likely to get positive results—whether it’s being seated at a “good table” in a restaurant, offered extra assistance while out shopping or inspiring students to achieve excellent test scores in a classroom. I was given some great words of wisdom by my favorite aunt at an early age. Being a well-educated professional businesswoman, my aunt said, “A professional woman should dress at least two steps above her current position. “You do not dress where you are; you dress where you want to be!” And those were words to live by!
Teachers just remember the hopes and dreams of our children are in your hands. And society wants, needs and expects the children of our future to be successful. Children don’t learn because they like you, they learn because they respect you.