As this school year comes to a close, I've been thinking about teachers and their attire. In our school district, it seems that the dress code is pretty laid back.
In our elementary school it is not uncommon for teachers to be wearing jeans, t-shirts and flip flops. Is this appropriate?
What level of dress do you expect from public school teachers? Does it matter what they wear? Does how they dress have any impact on their classrooms?
I have mixed feelings about this because I understand where you're coming from but I am in a professional job and I often wear jeans and flip flops (I'm wearing jeans, boots, and a blouse today because it's chilly here) to work. Now, if I have an important meeting or something, I wouldn't, and I don't interact with "customers" per se, but I don't think the way I dress is inappropriate or unprofessional. What kind of dress code do the children have? Are they allowed to wear jeans and sandals?
I think it depends on the culture of the school, the age of the children, and also the teacher themselves.
My DH is a teacher, and he is careful about the way he dresses (button down shirts, ties, slacks.) But part of this is because he's kind of young and kind of cool (those button down shirts hide some pretty rockin' tattoos) and he doesn't want the kids to think of him as a peer, if that makes sense. Like, he is aware of the fact that if he dressed at school the way he dressed at home in his jeans and skate shoes and ironic graphic Ts and tats of pinups girls, the kids might not see him so much as an adult and an authority figure, and that wouldn't be good for him or good for the kids. But that is also a partial recognition of the fact that when he's not in teacher mode, he's still kind of a big kid, so he needs that extra layer of professionalism. Does that make sense? I don't know that everyone would need that extra layer to command respect.
-Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)
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In our school district the teachers must abide by the same dress code as the kids. Flip-flops aren't allowed since shoes must have a strap around the heel. Many of the teachers in our school wear jeans, especially on days when they have gardening or P.E. it's more appropriate than something nicer. One teacher often wears a Giants shirt on game days. The principal OTOH has such a boyish look that he could probably pass for a very tall 5th grader, so he almost always wears a suit, or at least slacks & a tie, to help give him the look of the authority figure he is.
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The only issue I would have with flip flops is if they were monitoring kids while playing outside. If their dress code is to have closed toe shoes for kids for gym or playing outside, the teachers who monitor the kids should be following suit. As for dress code in professionalism, I think it really depends on the job. I'm with Kate on this one where jeans and flip flops can be acceptable. They are for our office and I see many clients. I usually wear flip flops, capris, and blouses or knit shirts in the summer. What I've also found is that if I dress down to casual clothes, my clients are more receptive to me. I would also think that some kids may see teachers are more approachable if they were dressed more casually.
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In our school system, we have to abide by the same dress code as the students, but that leaves a lot of leeway. Flip flops are out, but you can sometimes get away with dressier ones. Generally, in my particular school (elementary), it is accepted that we wear jeans on Fridays, that the computer teacher and the PE teachers kind of wear what they want because they're crawling around on the floor fixing computers or they need athletic wear. We have spirit days when everyone wears Ravens gear. For me, personally, I have a hard time taking myself seriously when I am not in my "school clothes," though they're not likely considered to be professional, compared to regular office attire. I totally agree with Alissa when she says it's about maintaining authority and not appearing to be a peer. I would say it probably depends a lot on what age range you teach, as well.
I have a problem with the flip flops. And they are just that, flip flops, not nice sandals or even athletic sandals-- they are cheap-o flip flops and I see them on at least a half dozen teachers or so. Kids are not supposed to wear flip flops, but many do. I don't let our kids wear them bc I think they aren't safe to run in on the playground....and they frequently say but Miss XYZ wears them. *sigh*
I think that if teachers want to be recognized as the professionals that they are, that they should step up the dress. I'm not saying that they need to wear full suits everyday, but I think it would be nice to see folks dressed more professionally that the attire I'm seeing.
I do think that how you dress affects how both students and parents percieve you, and that you'll up your credibility if you look more professional. Just seems the pendulum in my school district has squng very far the opposite way.....
Teachers here are required to be dressier, no jeans/tshirts/flip flops. I agree with what Alissa is saying above - dressing in relaxed clothes might not be the right message as far as "who's in charge" when dealing with certain ages. Personally, if my child's teacher was wearing jeans or flip flops - it wouldn't make a difference as long as my child was learning what she was supposed to be.
I'm fine with teachers simply having to obey the same rules the kids do. If the kids aren't allowed to wear flip flops, neither should the teachers.
I work a professional job and I wear open-toed, dress flip flops and its pretty much business casual here with jeans on Fridays. That seems fine for teachers.
Also, if a younger grade teacher needs to go out on the playground heels, skirts and nylons are not really a functionable outfit.
Look, I don't dress like a slob but capris, short sleeved shirts, and sandals are my every day attire. There isn't a need to require me to wear tennis shoes because I don't go out to PE or play on the playground.