Remember the old saying, "dress for success?" Ever since Presidents have been removing their jackets and rolling up their long sleeves as a way to appear "cool," proper dressing habits haven't been the same in quite some time. Nonetheless, I feel it's important to dress appropriately when going to work.
One of the ways teachers can help raise the level of professionalization in their occupation is to dress properly for work. While I understand the urge to deliberately dress down as a way to be on the same level with one's students, an important ideal of education should be to uplift pupils' minds. Coming to work as if one is going to the beach doesn't foster the notion that learning needs to be taken seriously.
I usually wear a sports jacket and most every day a tie when I teach. I view it as a teacher's uniform. And while I would disapprove of a formal dress policy for teachers, some parameters couldn't hurt (think the "What Not to Wear" TV program).
On the very first day of the school year, I saw one of my colleagues with an untucked shirt, shorts, and sandals. This shouldn't be the initial impression given to one's students. I wouldn't want to see my doctor and have him come into the examination room with shorts and flip flops. And I wouldn't want my children's teachers dressing likewise.
A school is a special place where special things take place. Teachers should dress for those occasions.
BRIAN CROSBY is a teacher in the Glendale Unified School District and the author of Smart Kids, Bad Schools and The $100,000 Teacher. He can be reached at brian-crosby.com.