Teachers Leave Those Kids Alone!

Woe is the state of dress codes in education. For teachers and students.

To be fair, I have had my lazy days of track jackets and sneakers as a teacher. It was a poor look and I resembled like a P.E. coach. That or a kid going for a run.

For their own credibility, young teachers should dress older. The advice is sad, but true (students always detect fresh meat).

Looking older can be accomplished by wearing muted colors/patterns. I’d also recommend to young teachers sports jackets instead of sweaters.

The key is to distinguish yourself and not look like a student.

Own a brief case or messenger bag, instead of a backpack. Wear nice, polished dress shoes.

Shoes can range from brown, oxblood, to black. Loafers are acceptable too — whether tassel or penny. The point is: no hideous sneakers.

Wearing suits depends entirely on your school culture. It’s safer to dress more formally for private schools and more affluent schools. Suits may not be appropriate in a Title 1, low-income school — in fact your appearance may alienate you from your students.

But if that is your style, you can still wear suits with confidence and your students will warm up to your look, and even come to respect you for it.

I teach art, where dress invites a grayer area. On painting days I normally wear jeans and a casual outer-jacket. It prevents expensive splashes.

Occasionally students compliment my shoes. It’s a good reminder that like anyone else, they pay attention to quality.

Students will appreciate seeing their teachers in fitted, professional clothing. That means muted colors in green, navy, brown, and grey. A touch of color may be added in accessories, but elegance is key.

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