Teacher Dress Codes
posted by: Alix | August 06, 2012, 09:50 PM   

Dress codes for educators–or lack thereof–vary by district and even school environment. Whether you come to class in jeans or a tie, many teachers this fall might need to reevaluate their wardrobe choices in the new school year. Due to complaints about teachers dressing inappropriately in states across the country, many school districts are pushing for stricter dress codes.

For students, policies are clearly established and leave little room for confusion. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 56% of public schools enforce a dress code for students. However, appropriate apparel for teachers has yet to be defined in many schools and administrators argue that many teachers are abusing the privilege of the traditionally lax policies.

This spring, Litchfield Elementary School District in Arizona piloted a policy designed to prohibit "rubber-sole flip-flops, visible undergarments, any visible cleavage, bare midriffs, clothes that are deemed too tight, too loose or transparent, bare shoulders, short skirts and exercise pants." Administrators in the district also suggested guidelines for natural hair color, limiting piercings, and covering tattoos—all of which can come across as unprofessional.

The Wichita School District in Kansas has banned cutoff shorts, pajama pants and flip flops. Similarly, school officials in Milwaukee recently concluded that dress codes would consider athletic wear and T-shirts unacceptable for the classroom setting.

In most cases, schools are taking action because they believe some teachers are dressing inappropriately and creating distractions that could impact student learning. Arizona Superintendent Julianne Lein stressed that the school board policies were created to curb growing complaints from parents and that she will work with teachers to find a workable standard. "Staff members will first be counseled by their supervisor to brainstorm options in ways to meet the code," Superintendent Lein says. "Further non-compliance will be dealt with through the normal disciplinary channels."

While many of these guidelines seem obvious, teachers are quick to point out that different positions call for different wardrobe choices. Obviously, a physical education teacher working with third graders might need to dress differently than the high school Spanish teacher. Sarah, a veteran kindergarten teacher told one fashion blog, "My concerns are practical: things need to be washable and comfortable. I can have a little fun with jewelry or, yes, the infamous holiday sweater. But my highest priority is wash-and-wear — and comfortable shoes."

Still, while most teachers just need to use a little common sense, the need for such policies is discouraging to professional educators who wouldn't dream of wearing pajamas to school. While the AAE Code of Ethics for Educators doesn't specifically mention appropriate dress, it does mention maintaining the "social prudence" necessary to perform job duties. Further, "The professional educator complies with written local school policies and applicable laws and regulations." As a professional educator, it is critical to present yourself well, limit distractions for students, and follow all dress code policies.

What do you think about teacher dress codes? What is the "uniform" of choice at your school?

Comment below.

Comments (2)Add Comment
Paraprofessional Educator
written by Bohemian, Marina Del Rey, CA, March 17, 2016

How can we train our children to dress appropriately if we, as educators, support staff and parents, do not. It is a sad day that anyone should have to actually tell a fellow professional NOT to expose their undergarments, cleavage or wear pajamas and slippers to work but I have seen it. If that is the chosen attire those educators should restrict themselves to work at an online school where, from the waist down, they only need to dress for themselves.
Well defined teacher dress code.
written by Laura, Dallas TX, October 17, 2012

You would never find a teacher in PJs or flip-flops at our High School. Our principal has made her expectations for professional attire very clear and sets an amazing example in that department. Even on casual Fridays, teachers wear jeans but we are also sporting a school shirt and you won't find any ratty jeans in the bunch.

This creates a more professional atmosphere and I think raises the bar on what we can legitimately expect from our students (as far as their dress code) as well as fosters a sense of pride and professional respect within the community. I've seen how most of the teachers dress at my children's school and Let's just say I'm even more appreciative of my own work environment.

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