Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wardrobing the Young Teacher

So I loved this post at a teacher blog I just came across called, pricelessly, Not Much Just Chillin'. "Spot the TFA" instructs rural teachers in how to find the earnest young adult plopped into the midst of their first great adventure in teaching, and it's quite the chuckleworthy post. I love playing Spot the Teacher myself when I'm out and about in the city, and, much like Spot the Tourist, I'm pretty good at it.

But this post also made me think of a conversation I had with a friend of mine recently about a friend of hers who is beginning her teaching career in a Brooklyn charter school this year. I'd let the school remain nameless even if I knew its name, which I don't, because this is hearsay. But she told me that her friend is required to wear a suit to work every day.

Now, I know that other careers, like law and finance, have fairly strict and traditional dress codes. I also know that people working in investment banks and law offices tend to have air conditioning, which many schools do not, and that even young lawyers and bankers typically start off making six figures or close to it. Being in a charter school, this young woman is making a little more money than I did when I started off, but not, I would think, enough to comfortably drop her first paycheck on a dozen or so suits.

I'm an advocate of dressing professionally. Teachers in tank tops and flip-flops make me cringe. But I'm not sure that requiring a suit in a sweltering public school classroom on a teacher's salary is quite the right way to go, either. I think you can look lovely and professional without, necessarily, the whole suit deal.

What do we all think about this?
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