Dress Codes

Trying to look on the bright side of life here…

One of the nice things about teaching high school from a distance is that I can really focus on the content and how I am delivering it. While recording my lessons, if I mess up, I can stop and do it over. I also don’t have to worry about disciplinary issues and such. I do need to check on my students and make sure they are on task and completing their assignments, but that’s relatively painless with the system that we are using.

I miss seeing their faces, but they definitely don’t frustrate me as much from a distance.

Dress codes are one of the biggest rule violations that I tend to notice in high school. I think I notice them so much because it’s the one rule that I really hate enforcing.

I do it, but I don’t like it.

I figure as long as everything important is covered and what they are wearing isn’t offensive, it shouldn’t matter. Unfortunately, for everyone involved, I’m in the minority and, our school dress code isn’t that lenient.

I didn’t like dress codes as a student either. The main part that bothered me was not being able to wear hats in the building. I hate messing with my hair. It’s so much easier to just throw on a baseball cap. I eventually found a way to deal with the no hats thing. I just kept my hair really short…still do to this day.

Some of my high school friends had bigger issues with our dress code. One of my really good female friends was somewhere in the range of 6′ 3″ or so. Our dress code said that shorts could not be any higher than a certain length above the knee. I don’t remember the exact measurement, but it was something ridiculous like 6 inches. Because of her height, my friend found it impossible to find shorts that would not violate the dress code. Some of the teachers literally carried around rulers to check for violations and would send people, mainly girls, to the office for breaking dress code. My friend would have NEVER intentionally broken any other rule, but she was constantly getting sent to the office by teachers who didn’t know her, all because she was too tall for the dress code. Most of the teachers who had her in class would let it slide.

Events like that are a big part of why I still, even as a teacher, don’t really like dress codes. There are way bigger issues that we need to deal with in education besides what the students are wearing in class.

Yet, there are also dress codes for teachers in most schools. We can only wear jeans on Fridays. The rest of the week we are supposed to dress “business casual” so we can set a good example for our kids. There are still some districts that require male teachers to wear ties.

There’s only a handful of occasions when I will wear a tie: Weddings, Funerals, Prom, Graduation…yeah, that’s about it.

Look, if how I dress has ANY impact on the learning in my classroom, I have some serious issues as a teacher. Clothes are a big way of how we express ourselves as individuals. If you want teachers to be themselves, lose the dress code.

I’m stepping off of my soap box now and finishing my story.

The other night at dinner, my family and I were having a conversation along these same lines, and I brought up the fact that we (teachers) are not allowed to wear jeans to school except on Fridays and any other days that our principle tells us we can.

My nine year old daughter asked why. I explained to her that teachers have dress codes too because some people think we should dress nicer to teach kids.

She thought about that for a minute and said, “That’s stupid.”

She’s mine.