Saturday, February 15, 2014

Professional Dress

Read an article about teachers dressing down (jeans and t-shirts) to protest pay.  And I don't want to enter the discussion whether this is a good idea or not. I have no idea what is happening at any school but my own.   But there were comments that some teachers wear jeans daily and others are required to dress up - and there is something to think about, but beyond the simple dress code question.  There lies a bigger issue beneath the surface  - what makes professionalism?  Education's professionalism and the "edge of the sword" teachers are walking is where I find myself thinking this morning.

Coming out of an engineer environment, I expected teaching to be a like-minded, like-respected professional.  It is not.  But I always dressed the part in my previous job, you look like you should be respected and it is easier to get respect.  I have found the same true in teaching.

That is why - even in a district without a code - I dress business formal every day -- shirt, tie, slacks - I may wear jeans once or twice per year, then I usually wear a blazer so that I still look professional.  I look like I should be respected, I demand the respect - I play the part.  I also feel it makes me a better role model.

That obviously begs the question - do jean wearing teachers make poor role models?  NO!  But when I reflect on what I think is important, what I can control (a big one) --  how I dress is an easy one. 

You may disagree, and that is okay.  But when students look at me they see someone who has become an expert in his area of study, with a passion for it, and wants them to succeed -- and for me, how I dress is part of the persona.