Larry Ferlazzo posted today on teacher attire. I read his post this morning and I thought about it at a couple different points today. Click here to read his post.

What surprised me is that some people associate ties with professionalism and effective instruction. (I associate ties with tradition.) Does it make sense to associate ties with professionalism?

The logic here seems to be:

  • Lawyers are professionals
  • Lawyers wear ties
  • Therefore, teachers that wear ties are professional.

Officially, teaching is not a profession. However, the behavior of some teachers is more “professional” than the behavior of others. In my few years of experience, ties do not guarantee professional behavior. The absence of a tie does not guarantee unprofessional behavior.

As for ties and effective instruction… I may be biased, but I do not think that my instruction would be made more engaging or effective if I wore a tie every day. This view seems to be a throwback to “don’t smile until Christmas.” (And why go to school if you can’t enjoy it enough to smile in the first semester?)

Ultimately, I think teachers need to dress in a way that allows them to be confident standing in front of a group of students. And I think that teachers that believe in themselves will be more effective than those filled with self doubt.


For the record:

  • I have worn ties to school — but only for the fun of dressing formally and learning to tie the knot.
  • I have invested time in learning how to dress well, and I feel that I have begun to dress pretty sharp: I tend to wear a button down shirt with a pocket for my pen, IWB pen, and whiteboard marker. I prefer vertical stripes to solids and I prefer simple cuff links to goofy ones. I wear black trousers. My clothes are tailored. The color of my belt matches the color of my shoes (black).
  • I could see myself switching to sweaters.

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