Whether you are student teaching, substitute teaching or hired for your first teaching job you will need to dress the part. What you wear does make a difference to your students and colleagues. How do you determine what to wear? It’s simple, but you still need to stop and think.
Teaching in a classroom, no matter how casual your teaching approach, is a business. Your attire should be business casual and follow any dress codes the school enforces. If you attend a private school that requires the students to wear a uniform, make sure your clothes are at least one notch fancier (more dressier). For public schools, the dress code is usually more relaxed, but there are still limitations on short/skirt length, undergarment exposure, holes in clothing etc. A teacher should always dress better than her students.
In determine your teaching wardrobe, keep in mind some of the following rules:
1. Never show your undergarments. (This includes bra straps and underwear when bending over.)
2. Avoid cleavage. (If you are so well-endowed that this is impossible without wearing turtlenecks everyday, limit the exposure.)
3. Don’t wear clothes with holes. (The current fashion accepts destroyed, damaged and worn jeans. You are not a student. Wear these items during non-working hours.)
4. Watch the length on your skirts/shorts. (The length of the skirt/short should be mid thigh at minimum. A higher recommendation is to have your skirts/shorts be just above the knee or longer to give a more professional appeal.)
5. Iron your clothes. (In college you may have rolled out of bed and grabbed the shirt off the floor. This is not acceptable in the workplace.)
6. Pay attention to your shoes. (You will be standing, so make sure they are comfortable. Avoid shoes that will attract students’ attention like super high spiked heels.)
7. Make sure your clothes fit properly. (Too tight or too loose can be the target for student comments.)
Teachers should be comfortable in the clothes she wearing. Always be dressed nicer than your students attire of jeans and tshirts. As long as your school allows it, you may wear jeans occasionally. Make sure they are clean and hole-free. Dress up jeans with a nice shirt to offset the casual pants.
If you have any question regarding whether an outfit is acceptable or not, remember that you will be standing in front of numerous students. The will be listening to you, but many will be scrutinizing every detail of your outfit. For example, if your pants are a little tight in the buttocks, a student will notice and point it out to another who points it out to another, etc. Next thing you know, the students are watching every day for a flaw in your wardrobe. Also, ask yourself if the outfit under question demands respect.
Teaching can be difficult enough without worrying about what you should wear in front of the classroom. While most teachers never have a problem with their wardrobes, there are teachers in every district that need a fashion awakening. Good luck!