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The Right Threads = The Right Classroom Atmosphere

How What You Wear Affects What You Accomplish as a Teacher

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Portrait of teacher standing in classroom
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Wouldn't everyone prefer to wear sweatshirts and flip-flops to work?

When you are a school teacher, such luxuries are completely out of the question. Our young students, their parents, our administrators, and the greater community all need to trust us to be mature, professional, capable, and competent.

Like it or not, our outer appearance is their first indicator of these inner characteristics.

Here are some of the factors that go into choosing your teacher attire:

  • Comfort
  • Professionalism
  • Individual Personality

More specifically, use the following guidelines when assembling your teaching wardrobe:

  • Loose-fitting and well-tailored is best. - If you're a curvaceous womanly woman, avoid clingy tops and rump-hugging bottoms in favor of less distracting clothing. Gym-loving men might want to avoid muscle tees, too.
  • Stay stylish, but not too much so. - You want to appear "with it" but you don't need to blindly follow every passing fad to a fault. A teeny-bopper persona is not a wise one to cultivate when dealing with parents who hope you're wise and responsible as you guide their young and impressionable children. Look for the classic in your closet or head to the mall for the old standards you still need. Men - dress pants and tucked-in button-downs are best.
  • Some people say avoid sleeveless. - It's a personal preference, perhaps, but I've heard it suggested that sleeveless is too casual for the classroom. Consider sleeves for a more put-together and adult look.
  • If you're young, be extra careful. - No ageism here, just realism. It's likely that you are pre-judged as lacking teaching experience and hey, it's probably true, right? If you are just starting out or look particularly young, take steps to make your appearance more mature. This goes for men as well as women. In the age of botox and obsession with youth, this might sound counter-intuitive, but teaching is one profession where a youthful look does not always inspire initial confidence; that is until your kick-ass teaching chops show them what's really underneath your youthful exterior!
  • Makeup is not necessarily your friend. - Believe me, I wish I could wear lots of colorful cosmetic looks to school. That's me when I'm at home. But a peacock's palette on your lovely face is not exactly classroom-appropriate. Save the more daring hues for home.
  • For shoes, comfort is king. - Avoid trendy too-high heels and opt for sensible flats that can last all day. For the most part, tennies are out, but maybe for field trips or Jog-a-thon day, you could get away with it.

  • Leave the bling at home. - K-6 teaching is a messy job. Don't chance an accident or the loss of meaningful jewelry. Simple, classic, and minimal are the key words here. Men - this might go even more so for you.
These general tips should set you off on the right track as a teacher - putting your best foot forward and earning respect right off the bat.

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