“I think subconsciously,” writes Scott Farver in an article in Education Week on how he dressed when he began teaching in an elementary school, ”I was trying to go for the I-just-returned-from-Peace-Corps-and-don’t-want-(or-know-how)-to-dress-professional look.” And succeeded. Then, teaching at a school in rural New Mexico, for a reason he doesn’t explain he bet himself that he could wear a tie for a month. He won it, and bet himself he could wear it for a year. His students were bemused and some of the other teachers critical.
So far, apparently, a kind of lark. Then he realized that if the president happened to visit the school, he and everyone else “would be dressed to the nines,” and therefore:
If I wore a tie for an important person like the president of the United States but not for my students, what kind of message would that send? If I did not wear a tie, did that mean they were unimportant? I don’t know if my students would ever reach that conclusion, but I felt like it was implied somehow. We dress up for important people and events. We dress up for presidents. My students are important. Every day of school is important, as important as if the president were visiting.
While I am not proselytizing that every staff member in a school building dress up, I do feel that students need to know they matter. So I wear a tie. I shine my shoes. I get haircuts. I try to reflect their value by what I wear, how I speak, and how I behave. When I enter a classroom, I think about how I look because I want my students to know they are important, as important as a president.
Thanks to Gary Houchens’ weblog for the link.