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I was talking with a friend of mine this morning about the sad state of education these days and the conversational content included a concept that might be a bit touchy for teachers these days. Dress. Not student dress, but teacher dress. I have been in education long enough to remember when teachers actually dressed professionally. Shirts, ties, dresses, and at the very least- NO JEANS!! We were, after all, expected to set an example for the kids. The kids dressed better fifteen to twenty years ago too. I realize that times have changed and the media determines what is considered fashionable for kids these days. However, dressing like a slob or gang member is neither fahsionable nor appropriate- for kids or staff.
At the high school where I teach, the kids are supposed to report to school in “common dress”- wearing only the colors black, white or grey. This school rule was imposed as a protective measure against the gang violence that is so prevalent in our community. While most kids abide by the code, some abuse it, some completely ignore it and others get dress code waivers. Staff is not bound by dress code restrictions, but many wear the same colors as the student body to promote the idea of safety and appropriate dress. Some of our younger staff members, however, seem to have never heard of appropriate dress. They come to school in clothes befitting the homeless with ragged, torn jeans, dirty flip flops, t- shirts, and hats. A few dress in full blown gang attire sporting all red or all blue clothing. It is an outrage to see them in front of a class full of kids. While I have no jurisdiction over the wardrobe of my colleagues, it is a visual affront to see them discount proper attire and a professional mistake for them to dress in such sloppy, casual wear. The message that they send to kids by caring so little about what they wear is that they care so little about their job- hence, care less about the students.
People can argue that the clothes do no make the man or women, but I disagree. Clothes make or break the way others respond to you. Dress well and a certain level or respect will follow. Dress like a street person and expect to be treated accordingly. We are professionals and if we want the accolades that accompany being a professional we need to look, act and think like one.