[I'm writing this primarily from a male perspective. If a female teacher would like to chime in with their opinion, that would be great!]
This seems like a simple question, but it really is not. There is a LOT to consider between formal district dress code policies, personal taste & preference, teaching assignment, community norms, individual income levels and even climate concerns.
As a new teacher, you obviously are going to get your cues from the existing teaching staff, and will probably aim a tad higher, at least initially, while you get established. For most men this will mean a long-sleeve dress shirt and tie, maybe even a sport coat too. A suit is not out of the question.
But it really depends; a teacher at a hip private school in the city might make different, and completely appropriate, choices than a teacher at a leafy suburb or rural school.
Personally, having come into education from the business world where "suit and tie" was an everyday thing, I have to say it's been fantastic to be able to come to work in khakis and a polo for the last 12 years. I teach elementary technology, and, my classroom is very active. I'm constantly moving around the room, shuttling equipment on and off desks, orchestrating killer STEM projects with lots of often messy or bulky materials, etc. Most important for me personally, I am extremely sensitive to heat; even wearing a short sleeve polo shirt, when the weather is warm and the temperature in my room spikes, the heat gets to me and I perspire visibly. I've heard "are you sweating?" from incredulous kids more than a few times. So, I'm thrilled my choice of attire fits within our dress code.
That said, I know male classroom teachers who wear shirts and ties every day; others dress more or less as I do. Our male gym/physical education teachers have their own style, which seems logical given their assignment. Overall, everyone dresses "professionally," which is to say, their clothes are neat, clean and fit well; they suit their teaching assignment and the season; overall, they convey a "corporate" appearance at all times, which I think is the point of proper clothing choices in an "office" type or indoor work setting to begin with.
Our school has "Dress Down" Fridays, which for me, simply means I get to wear jeans. (I'd often rather not, so I don't, as they are heavier and therefore warmer than khakis.) It also means I get to wear sneakers, which *IS* great, because since I literally am on my feet for all but 20 minutes a day, comfortable footwear is a must. (N.B.: I highly recommend the dress shoes from Rockport and L.L. Bean as they look great and are VERY comfortable.)
So, how should teachers dress? I say, as their job assignment dictates, and as neatly and comfortably as possible while still projecting a professional, "corporate" image. What do you think?
This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.