Sunday, March 20, 2016

Is the Educator Dress Code a Hot Mess?

Call me brave for writing a post about educator dress codes, but it is often a hot topic for school principals and employees. As an elementary principal, I try to have control over a few things at our school. One thing that I like to control is when we have jeans and tennis shoe days. It is a fun way to celebrate together, relieve a little pressure, relax a little bit, etc... I also believe that the education world and the business world are very different. We as educators should know when we need to dress up, when we need to dress casual, when we need to wear clothes that can get dirty, and when we need to wear clothes that are safe and comfortable. You don't need your boss to tell you this, right? Yes, we should always keep in mind that your students, parents, colleagues, and community members are constantly watching. We should always lean towards a more conservative approach to our attire while in our role as public educators.

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For me, SAFETY and good HEALTH are important. Therefore, educators should dress so that they are safe when in the classroom, in the cafeteria, out at recess, standing for hours, and walking the halls. This can be done in a tactful way that allows the teacher to remain professional in the eyes of the school's stakeholders. Shoes should protect your feet from being stepped on, having something dropped on, being bitten by ants at recess, and allow you to stand and walk for long periods of time without injury.

I think that it is also important to be COMFORTABLE, but PROFESSIONAL. As a mobile principal, I can walk up to 17,000 steps in a day. As a result, I have tried to find shoes that are comfortable, yet professional. I usually wear these shoes when I know I am going to be doing a lot of walking. If I am scheduled to be in a lot of meetings or attending a district meeting, I may wear shoes that are more professional. The same should go for teachers. If you know that your plans are going to require you to be outside, on the floor, painting, cutting, bending, sitting on the floor, then your attire should be comfortable, but professional.

There are times however, when we should LOOK the PART. Just like any other event in our lives, sometimes we have to look the part. If we know that we are having visitors, attending a meeting with community members, attending a board meeting, or want our students to dress to impress for an event, we should dress to impress as well. When I was teaching sixth graders, I usually dressed a little nicer on days that we were taking the state test. I encouraged my students to dress nice as well. It gave us more of a business feel for the day. I cannot promise you that dressing up raised test scores, but I wanted to squeeze every point or percentage I could out of my students.

With all of this said, I want to offer to our employees at NSE to wear jeans and tennis shoes every day next week as we finish strong before Spring Break! Just keep in mind the activities you will be participating in throughout the week and make sure you are dressed appropriately. For example, I will be attending the board meeting Tuesday evening. Therefore, I will NOT be wearing jeans. Have a great week!
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