You Wear That To School?

My math tie that I wear often.

Something that has often bothered me is the fact that teachers demand respect, but then dress “to be comfortable”. I have never agreed with this. Teachers are professional, so therefore should dress the part. You wouldn’t go to a doctor that’s dressed in shorts would you? What would your reaction be if you walked into your lawyer’s office and they were sitting there in a tank-top and flip flops?

I read the blog post Professional Dress For Teachers – Sending an Important Message, by Sam Rangel. He makes some valid points in this post. The first being what use to be expected.

Male teachers were to wear shirts and ties along with dress slacks or casual pants. Wearing jeans was frowned upon.

I agree with this 100%! Now, should this be expected everyday. Well, I feel that having a spirit day on Fridays and wearing jeans is alright. (Especially if you go to the game that evening.) However, that’s where it started. Now you see you expectations like this.

Although we still require that students adhere to the strict dress code (shirts being tucked in, hair being a natural color, etc. ) the dress code for the teachers is no longer enforced. The reason is because the union will not support the school’s position on the teacher dress code. As in everything, politics play a big role in school administration.

Why is this? Why do politics get to step in and say that rules about teacher dress is unfair. Would you hire someone into office that wore what teachers do? Do you think this is part of the reason that we have problems in school?

Here’s the way I saw it: For many of my students, especially my Hispanic students, the only Hispanic adults they knew were their gang member relatives. Their image of an Hispanic adult was a negative one. This was what they had to look forward to.

We need to dress professionally in schools. It does make a difference. I remember teaching in a middle school where I was one of very few that wore a tie. Yes, I was only about 10-12 years older than the students, but I dressed the part. Students respected me. I had veteran teachers (teachers that I had as a student) coming up to me in their jeans and polo asking why I didn’t have problems with students like they did. They blamed it on my age.

I have to disagree. Even in my current position students ask me why I wear a tie. I wear a tie because I am a teacher. I am in a profession that needs respect. I’m in a position that helps students grow. If I dress like I don’t care about my job, students see that I don’t care about my job. Students then act out because they don’t care about their job, which is to learn.

We have dress codes in many schools around the world and yet teachers wear whatever they feel like. I don’t like it. If anything, teachers should have a dress code. Do I expect a tie for men and a skirt for women daily? No. However, it makes a difference.

I encourage you to go and read the poem that Sam wrote on his post. It’s a great poem.

What are your thoughts about teacher dress codes? Should they become more strict?


About Anthony Purcell

I am Anthony Purcell and I am currently teaching math in Oklahoma.
This entry was posted in Dress Code, Education, School, Teachers, Teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to You Wear That To School?

  1. Rodney Turner says:

    I agree with you 100%. I feel as though some teachers do care what they wear, but it has to be comfortable. In my mind, safety is an factor to consider. Sandals with exposed toes are asking for a door edge or another foot to smash them leaving the owner limping or completely out of commission. Students wear closed toed shoes, teachers should do the same. I do wear polo shirts and slacks but I also kneel, play outside, do hands-on science experiments that get participants dirty. I try to dress for the day.
    My district has a dress code, but many staff members disregard it based upon what admin allows. I don’t think this is a good model for students or the community we serve. No, teacher dress codes shouldn’t be more strict, they should be enforced.

    • Thank you for your comment. I have seen some districts that have in the negotiated agreement that the only thing that can be said about what a teacher is wearing is, “Do you think that’s appropriate?” If they say yes, you can’t say anything more. Even if it is not appropriate. That is wrong. Teachers and administration, especially, should be able to tell others that what they are wearing is inappropriate.

  2. Michael says:

    This is a blog post I intended to write, but I haven’t been writing. You did a great job! I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am not sure it is the union to blame, but I do believe that some go too far in this. I am surprised that administrators let the dress code be negotiated away -is it a civil rights matter? I believe you should have a dress code, but realize that PE and shop teachers need a bit of leniency. I love wearing a tie everyday. I have amassed many (I need one as cool as your Math tie). It is surprising how many comments I get and how many conversations get started because of the ties. Thanks for the good reading.

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