Thursday, 2 May 2013

How to Dress Like a Professional - My School Teacher Outfit!

Hi everyone,

Hope you guys have been having a rockin' week.

Over the past year or so, ever since I revealed what I do outside of Youtube, I've been getting loads of requests to do a video talking about being a teacher, what to wear as a teacher, or advice based on my experience. I had no idea there were so many of you guys who were on the same path as me!

As a starting out teacher, I've had 4 years of uni prac experiences, during which choosing what was suitable to wear to school was really confusing for me. Unlike other jobs, teaching is a very unique one. Firstly, it's a professional job that's not in an office. Secondly, you're dealing with both children AND adults (parents and fellow staff). Thirdly, whether you're sitting at a table most of the time, or standing up and moving around, varies from job to job and person to person. So what you wear needs to be, for the most part, convenient and flexible whilst at the same time, you need to look clean and professional.

So you find yourself thinking - 'Who am I dressing for? The students or the adults?'
If you're new to the school, or a prac student, you're always one your tip-toes, wondering 'Am I dressed appropriately enough?'

You're told at uni over and over: Don't wear jeans or open toes, or high skirts, or low-cut shirts. It sounds like the 80s. But honestly, you know it's probably true. Then, to add to your confusion, you go to school and see other teachers wearing jeans, open toes, some even short dresses. They pull it off pretty well - it doesn't look too indecent, so you think 'Why can't I?' The next day you turn up wearing jeans, and regret it the minute you step on school grounds. You're paranoid all day that the principal will think you aren't professional looking enough, or that you come across to others like you don't take the role seriously enough.

I remember these days clearly like they were yesterday. I don't know if any of you guys have been there. It might just be me. I'd love to hear your stories or experiences in the comments, if you have any. I'm actually pretty sure that this doesnt only apply to the teaching sector.

These days, of course, working full time with a Year 4/5 class has brought on a whole different league of other concerns. Programming, organising, making resources, timetabling, assessing, reporting, marking, parent-teacher interviews....... if I went on it would bore you to death! The bottom line is that what I wear is one of the least of my concern priorities. Everyone is different, but over time I've figured out what I like to wear to school that allows me to be comfortable, flexible and professional all at the same time.

So I thought I'd share it with any of you who might want some friendly advice. A few days ago, I got home from work and filmed a "What I wear to work" video, where I also talked a bit about what kind of clothes I think are most appropriate for work. I showed what I wore to school that day, my shoes, hair, and accessories. I didn't mention it, but my work makeup is also what I showed in the video. You might have noticed it is a lot less makeup than what I normally show myself with on Youtube.

I might be leaning towards the more formal side, but that's how I've ruled works best for me. Not just how I present myself to students, parents and other staff, but also what I know boosts my confidence and how professional I feel about the job, regardless of the environment around me. As I said, how you dress is going to affect how you feel when you're at work, and thus how you perform. You might think 'Am I overdressing?', but honestly it is better to look your best than to look casual and daggy.

I want to emphasise that context is key. If your school is in a rural area in the country side, obviously this doesn't apply. It depends on your school culture, the school environment and the local community values.

However, I truly believe that the best accessory to looking like a truly professional, organised and committed worker, is your smile. No matter how you're feeling in the morning - you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, haven't had your cup of coffee yet, fought through massive traffic jams to get to work - flash your biggest, most genuine smile at everyone you see and chirp out your happiest "Good morning!" It will make you a pleasure to work with, and also lift your own spirits.

Well, I hope this was a helpful post, and it answers some of your questions in regards to dressing professionally as a teacher.

If you have any questions leave them in a comment below :)

Here's the video.... Enjoy!

Love Jen.