Dress Codes for Educators: A Tough Sell When Wearing a Puma Sweatsuit.

Puma was/is Cool.There is always talk about dress codes when you work in education.

Teachers are often concerned if a student can wear a particular shirt, a hat, baggy pants, etc. Most of these issues can be quickly addressed by a good handbook and fair enforcement by the staff.

I also think about dress codes. Except my thoughts often go towards what educators wear.

This issue first came to my attention when I was getting ready to complete my Master’s Degree in Educational Administration (yes, I have a degree… as far as you know).

My college advisor came to visit me at school.

He took time out of his busy day (????… this is a whole different blog discussion) to sit down with my Superintendent and me to discuss my future.

At the time, I thought it was a good sign that he felt like I had a future. In retrospect, I have come to realize he was just completing his part of the advising process so he could get paid.

As the meeting came to a close, the professor looked at me and said, “The best advice I can give you is to always, and I mean always, dress professionally.”

He felt that if you wanted respect, you had to look like you deserved it.

I thought this was great advice. And throughout the years, I have tried to abide by it.

If teachers or students are in attendance, I always wear at least a shirt and tie (and yes, pants).

Not every administrator does this, but it works for me.

The thing that has stuck with me about my college professor’s advice is that when he said this, he was wearing a white and lime green Puma sweat suit.

For those of you too young to remember, the Puma brand was cool way before Nike.

Back when tennis was the next great sport (we are talking the 70’s here… tennis was soccer before soccer), Puma athletic clothes were considered hip.

And not rapper hip, mainstream hip.

The problem with my college professor wearing this dapper outfit (he thought) was the year; it was in the late 90’s.

He looked like Jimmy Connors in his prime (actually, he didn’t look like Connors in his physical prime… just the outfit).

He wanted me to be appropriately dressed, but his best advice was given wearing a 20 year old sweat suit?

How was this a good idea? Why do people think rules are for everyone else?

I often think about that meeting when I hear or read about school dress codes.

If we want others (students) to present themselves in a certain way, shouldn’t we (teachers and administrators) lead by example?

Haven’t student dress codes become an issue just in the last 30 years? Isn’t that about the same time that teachers and administrators began to think that golf shirts, khakis, shorts, and tennis shoes are okay to wear to school?

And please, don’t get me started on wearing jeans on Friday. How did Fridays become less important than a Tuesday or a Thursday? Isn’t it still 20% of the educational week?

Unless, of course it is a shortened week but that is also another blog.

I could go on and on, but I have to go iron my dress clothes. Maybe I should rethink my thoughts on this topic.

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New School Year, New Crop of Principals, and Old Advice… Run.

Newbies... Best of Luck.I had my first big meeting of the new school year this week (1 down and only 800 bazillion to go).

The start of meeting season means two things. One, I had to iron my dress clothes and two, I saw the brand new crop of first year principals.

I don’t know which circumstance made me feel worse. The wearing of a suit and tie did break my streak of 76 consecutive days of wearing shorts (oh, how I love the summer), but the “deer in the headlights” look that new principals have in their eyes always makes me nostalgic (and of course by nostalgic, I mean sad).

As I continue to fumble around with writing this blog, certain subjects come up over and over. New administrators seem to be one of them. Lucky for me it seems very appropriate since a high percentage of this blog’s readers seem to be new administrators.

I guess that makes sense. I seldom meet a reader of this blog who is over 50 years old (if you are, email me and you may officially be named The Oldest Reader… quite an honor don’t you think?… Plus you may receive parting gifts and the game version of PrincipalsPage.com).

Just like students, the new principals seem to get younger each year. It is like the school districts are hiring sophomores to run their buildings.

I remember when I was a new administrator… and young… but just barely, because the mind is not as sharp as it used to be.

The newbie’s are so excited to begin their career in educational administration. And scared to death.

How can I be so sure?

The glazed over look in their eyes always gives it away. And as someone who had that look, I feel qualified to comment on it.

Pure and simple. It is fear.

Fear of new responsibilities, teachers, parents, students, school board meetings, supervision, speaking in public, evaluating staff, addressing employees… you name it and it makes them nervous. Really nervous.

But the good news is that if you are lucky that feeling passes. At least a little. I don’t think as an administrator you ever completely shake it.

Another quality of a first year administrator: Fast talking. That always blows their covers as a rookie. First year administrators forget to breathe when they speak. They are so focused on spewing everything out just to “get it over with” often forgetting their audience doesn’t understand a word they say. The blue facial tint (could be fear, could be lack of oxygen, could be a sign of snug fitting pantyhose or too tightly knotted tie… who knows) of a first year administrator is a sure give away.

By the second year in the job, these feelings go down by about 50%… so at least you have that going for you.

If you are a new administrator my advice hasn’t changed (or grown in value). Run.

Like the wind.

And don’t look back.

And I don’t mean from the job. I mean for the job.

Exercise. A lot. And don’t make the excuse that you don’t have time.

Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. It is just how you prioritize them.

Make exercise a priority for yourself, your family, and your school. Get up early if you need to.

A half hour a day will do you good and everyone around you will benefit.

And if that doesn’t work. Run.

From the job. There is no shame in hiding in your office, sitting in the corner in a fetal position, and rocking back and forth.

We have all been there (not really, I am just trying to lift your spirits if things go horribly wrong for you).

The good news is that when you survive the first year (and you will, especially if you exercise), you can attend a meeting and stare at the new crop of 2009 administrators.

And you too will recognize that glazed look in their eyes.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.