My thoughts*

Work Wear*

I’m feeling better today.

I finally crawled into bed a little after 11, and slept straight through for the first time in days. I woke up feeling less congested than yesterday, and my head feels much clearer.

I worked this morning, and as I wasn’t booked this afternoon I was able to be home by 11:30. It was so glorious. It’s really the best of both worlds–I got to dress up a little, see some colleagues, teach two phenomenal groups of kids, use my brain and be home in time to make lunch for P, give him a snuggle and put him to bed for a nap. If I could do this every day my life would be positively dreamy. It’s a bit of a mad rush trying to be ready to run out the door at 7:30am, but I’m enjoying this supply teaching gig way more than I expected to.

Except for the part this morning where another supply teacher accidentally stole the plans and work left for me and I had to chase him around the school for 15 minutes trying to find him… but you know. All part of the package.

Seeing other supply teachers in the school is so interesting to me. I realize that we all had different experiences in teacher’s college and with our associate teachers, but one of the very first lessons I learned was to dress appropriately for the job. Saying that, I realize this is almost a controversial topic now as really, what does that even mean?

My first associate teacher was amazing. I wrote about him years ago, and I still look back to the example he showed me when I worked with him for three weeks. He had bleach blond hair that he wore all spiked up, a small hoop earring and looked a bit like Billy Idol.

He also wore a full suit and tie to work every. single. day.

He didn’t want to appear casual about his job, and wanted his appearance to reflect that. He was the English Department Head and ran tight ship in his classroom, but his students loved him. They respected him.

Now I want to be clear here: I don’t believe you need to wear a full suit to have your students respect you. But, I did appreciate that he wanted to dress up for his job–it was his “uniform” of sorts. It was a visual separation between him and his students, and I believe they did respond to that. It may or may not be an old fashioned ideology, but I do believe it has some merit.

It’s something I tried to adopt as I began my career… I never wanted to be casual in my appearance (excluding “casual Fridays”, where even then I dressed up a pair of jeans). As I began supply teaching many years ago, I dressed as though each day was a job interview. I tried to look my best, and wore professional clothing every day I worked. I still do.

As I’ve re-entered the world of supply teaching, I am taking notice of the other supply teachers I meet. Everyone has been very nice, but I was a little surprised at how casual many of them are dressed when they arrive to work. Last week I was asked to fill in for a supply teacher who was a few minutes late on my prep period, so I got her class started as she walked in. I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at her outfit: running shoes, black leggings and a tight exercise-ish shirt that didn’t quite meet the top of her pants. It wasn’t a full on crop top, it was just short. She was young, and to be honest, she was dressed like several students in the room. I’ve seen teachers in casual jeans, black stretchy pants, casual t-shirts and other things I wouldn’t normally place in a professional environment, outside of a phys ed or outdoors program classroom.

It has just made me wonder: is this the new norm? Am I the one out of place–over dressed in my black skirt and dressy top? Does what you wear really impact the environment in a classroom at all? Does it help students respect you, or is that all a myth?

I don’t know.

Maybe my ideology is old fashioned and I need to get with the times.

Sometimes I just struggle to wrap my head around it.


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