When I was a student teacher in Betsy’s first grade classroom, I asked her one day why she wore her Talbot’s dresses, pantyhose, and heels to work every day. She answered quickly with no hesitation.

“I think it makes the students feel like they are worth it.”

My clothing choices had much more to do with comfort and durability for getting on the floor, making a mess, and being “in it” with first graders.

Two points of view. Both very valid. I love that she considered the effect of her appearance on sending a message of “You are important. School is important.”ย Over the years, teacher dress has become more casual. At least at my school, jeans and your spirit-wear T-shirt are more the norm than even “business casual.” I’m not making a judgment, just an observation.

I remembered Betsy’s example today because I wore a dress, pantyhose, and dress shoes to work (not heels). It surprised me how many students noticed and gave me compliments. It was like my dress made the day more special for them. Even a bit of laughter came from my attire when a 2nd grader asked me if I had on “leggings.” She didn’t know what to make of my skin-colored legs!ย  I had a great day, all day. Maybe I should wear dresses more often.

9 thoughts on “March 12, 2018

  1. I love your thoughts here in this post. I totally get the need for comfort and “messy” because we do get down and into it with those little kids. Just kneeling beside their desks for impromptu conferences begs sturdy pants. But there is a lot to be said for dressing the part. Kids do notice and it is nice to be noticed. And who knows, if they notice your dress, they might even notice what you say! lol

  2. I like how you describe and emphasize no judgement. Then end with how your day in a dress went today. I tend to wear the comfortable slacks and a sweatshirt so I’m comfortable all day long. And I haven’t wore heels in a long time!

  3. Students do really notice everything. I had a seventh grader tell me that she thought it was time for me to color my hair – that my gray roots were showing.
    When I moved to middle school (after teaching elementary school for 12 years) I found that teachers dressed more formally – a lot of male teachers wore ties and women wore dresses or dress pants. It’s much easier to dress this way when you don’t have to get down on the floor for morning meeting or writer’s/reader/s workshop.
    I love that you gave this a try and wonder if it will become part of your “repertoire”:))

  4. That’s such an interesting perspective. I definitely subscribe to the mindset of wanting to be able to sit on the floor, but I hadn’t thought about my clothing choices making kids feel like they’re worth it. Maybe I’ll dress up tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I really like how you manage to make this an observation and not a judgment. Not only do you state your intention, you show respect for someone who made a different choice than you, and you show how you can embody both sides. I’ve been on both sides of this: I know the kids notice, but I also know that my comfort is important. Not sure I’ll ever choose completely!

  6. Your post has got us all thinking!
    I try to do it all- look nice with comfort. all my dresses and skirts, actually one skirt, are long enough so that I can sit on the floor.
    Your story reminded me of a boss I had. She went to poorer areas to work, She always dressed beautifully and stylishly. I think she was right. Everybody loves nice clothes ๐Ÿ™‚

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