Clothes maketh the teacher?

Last week my school, like many hundreds in the country, suffered through yet another round of parent evenings. My form, true to – er – form, were exceptionally forthcoming in their opinions of what I had chosen to wear for the occasion. Their ruling: I looked like I was going for a job interview and, slightly uncomfortable to (kitten-heel) boot. One girl informed me that if she didn’t know better she’d think I “had a right stick up my…” Indeed.

Truth is, there is no hard and fast rule. My school certainly doesn’t impose a dress code outside of the usual ‘smart casual’ and yet, we all turned up last week wearing clothes that our classes did not recognise as being our usual clobber. Reading between the lines, I would say this is because we know that our day-to-day choice of clothing doesn’t impress.

I am the first to admit that I put little thought into my school attire. So long as I can reach up, bend down and lean without revealing skin nor choice of underwear I am happy. I often look as though I have dressed in the dark and, in the winter months, this is actually the case.

Today, I attempted to remedy this and shop for a teacher wardrobe that is both parent and pupil proof. Given that I’m exactly half way into my NQT year and spent a year doing the Post Graduate Certificate in Education, you will be forgiven for judging me as slightly late to the party however, if you knew me at all you would actually see this as progress. Confession time: I am one of those females that hates shopping and I will do almost anything to get out of it. Including looking as though I rolled over in a pile of clothes covered in velcro and wore whatever stuck first.

The fruits of my labours today will remain under wraps but I can tell you this: not a single item of chord nor leather patched outerwear made it to the cash register (despite me trying them on for fun). I am also linen and comfortable shoe free.

My wardrobe update is not unlike this:

Do clothes maketh the teacher? A little bit, yes. In as much as I’m trying to educate the minds of my classroom that ‘we are what we do, not what we look like’, it’s not always the case. For the professional charged with the safe custody of those minds, we have to accept that our first, second and lasting impression count just as much as our words and actions. We all remember the sweaty teacher with the coffee breath. We all remember the unkempt teacher with the clothes from a by-gone era.

So will they.


4 thoughts on “Clothes maketh the teacher?

  1. I have just started my PGCE placement and really fretted over what to wear, where to place myself in the school arena. I currently work for a non-profit educational organization and we can where whatever we want except jeans. We’re allowed to be creative and wacky, smart-causal or low-maintenance. We can ‘express ourselves’. After starting the placement, however, I quickly realised that although I don’t believe in appearances being everythingand that you should be true to yourselfe, that how I dressed did matter and forged how students and teachers saw me and treated me. It was a real shock and went against the grain, but now I’m starting to like associating myself with the teachers by dressing as a teacher.

  2. Good luck with the PGCE KayJay_1 – it’s a tough year! Thanks for sharing your thoughts – I still struggle with not feeling like ‘me’ but agree with you that it does matter. Have yet to shop for the new school year but have a feeling it’ll be very ‘next step’ in terms of career ladder…

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