Sunday, June 7, 2009

Teacher Uniforms

In the Archives of Under Assault, I found an opinion piece advocating uniforms for teachers.

The author wants tenured and certified professors and teachers to wear black robes as part of their teaching attire. The reasons are deeply political and are a reaction to NYC's particular bogeymen, such as the TFAs and the provisional teachers supplanting the tenured and certified teachers.

Still, parts of this argument make sense even if the Black Robe doesn't actually fit all.

First, teachers should have a dress code of some kind. Whether it be shirt and tie or jacket/shirt/tie, the teachers need to set themselves apart from the students. The science department looks very professional in white labcoats, as does the art department. The shirt and tie look is great for those who choose it. I object to blue jeans and ratty shirts and sandals, though. Likewise for athletic attire and sneakers, unless it's the PE teachers. English teachers shouldn't be dressed down that far. I could even tolerate the Black Robe if it had the proper-colored lining and borders.

The point is that the teachers are different from students and should show it.

Under Assault's idea of differentiating teachers based on their tenure status, though, is just petty when I look at it from this distance. I understand the annoyance of having TFAers come be-bopping in "to save the poor benighted losers" with their "unique skills and obvious charm" but you'll never get them to behave by ostracizing them. They certainly won't be tempted to stay yet some of them definitely should. New teachers are always arrogant and full of themselves - the trick is to figure out who mellows to the proper level.


  1. I kind of like my jeans, sweats or even shorts. When I am sitting on the floor in the hallway tutoring the kids, they just fit in.

    I say, make the kids dress up so the teachers can dress down. Tha will still differentiate us. We earned the right to be comfortable.

  2. I'd like a uniform for the kids too but that's a forbidden topic around these parts.

    I think that a few teachers can get away with casual dress - those who have become so well known to the students that the professionalism is taken for granted and the students couldn't for the life of themselves see the them as anything other than "Mrs. PO" and wouldn't DREAM of being less than respectful. The majority need to set themselves apart some.

    There's a new teacher in this building who can't get beyond first name basis and who dresses in jeans and sneakers. She won't be returning and I think a good part of that is her professionalism and comportment. There's a science teacher who always wears that labcoat and the kids treat her as "Ms. Bio" and she has far fewer problems.

    Exceptions exist but for the most part newer teachers do themselves no favors by being casual.

  3. I'm a business casual sort of person myself (largely because I have no fashion sense) which puts me more formal than almost all of my students (college). I tell my pre-teacher students they need to dress professionally at least until they have tenure (and ideally until they have gray hair--if you're old enough that you couldn't possibly be mistaken for a student, you don't have to dress up as much to stay in character).

  4. I used to wear a shirt and tie everyday for 3 years and then just said forget it. My students still perform the same, so there has been no change there.

    I do get upset about PE teachers wearing shorts everyday though. Why do they wear shorts? Are they actually running around and demonstrating? At our school our PE teachers usually throw out a ball and sit down for an hour. No need for shorts there.