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Professionalism in the Classroom Essay

Can you imagine walking into your child’s classroom and his or her teacher looking more like a student than a teacher? Just as the rest of the world is becoming more laid back, so are the standards for the way teachers present themselves. Years ago, when you walked into a classroom, the teacher looked as if he or she were dressed in a professional manner and were neat and clean. Now, due to the fact that teachers are not presenting themselves in a professional manner with regard to clothing and hairstyles, and cell phone use students are not taking them as seriously. Not only as a teacher but also a role model for children a teacher is expected to present themselves in a professional manner. Juli Kwikkel (8/21/2003) stated that “you don’t want to have to guess who’s the teacher and who’s the student”.

There are even some districts that are beginning to implement dress codes due to the issues worsening as new and younger teachers are entering the work place. This new trend is becoming more popular with schools and is going beyond just the students. Especially in districts where there is a dress code for students and not for employees this will lead to student rebelling against the dress codes that are in place. This is primarily due to the fact that many students will feel as if why should they have to dress a certain way when the staff can dress in street clothes. The rules that are implemented at Alleghany Highlands Public Schools (8/21/2003) state “dress should reflect the professional position of the employee.”

Although opinions are different, the general consensus is that teachers should not be wearing things such as belly shirts, jeans, flip flops, and t-shirts to work. This should be left for the students. Rather they should be wearing a more professional and mature type of clothing, such as dress pants and a button up shirt or a skirt that is of an appropriate length. As described by Beth Lewis teachers should wear clothing that is loose fitting and well-tailored, not too much make-up, comfortable shoes, and not too much jewelry. This can still leave many options open for each individual to express their own styles while still looking as if they are in a position that they will be respected among staff and students alike.

The teacher is not only there to help children throughout their learning years, but they are also there to listen and be someone that children look up to. Children are always taking in everything around them. If their teacher is dressing in a manner that looks like they are going for a day out with their family, partying with friends, or even working at part time jobs that are less than upholding the professional statute of a teacher this can become very distracting for the students. It can also allow for the students to not see the teacher as a person that they have to take seriously. Parents also have certain expectations of the learning environment that their children will be in, whether it be public or private schooling.

The teacher needs to be a person that a child can feel a sense of security when they are in their care; also the children must know the teacher is a person with authority. This allows for an environment that children will be able to learn more easily in. If the teacher is presenting themselves in the workplace in a manner that is not professional, then they are not setting a good example as to how adults should behave and what it is like to be a mature adult. Rather they are allowing the child to see them as someone who is caught in the middle of child and adulthood. As is the same in any profession a teacher’s presentation of themselves also goes above and beyond just clothing. A teacher is expecting to have good hygiene, and look “put together.” There is also the matter of make-up and hair styles.

It is hard to take someone seriously if they walk into a professional environment with multicolored hair and makeup. Some teachers now are entering the classroom with blue, pink, and green hair all on the same day. There are also teachers that do not use conservative measures when doing their makeup before going to work. If you were in a classroom, and the teacher walked in and looked like they had slept in their car all night or had different wild hair colors and extravagant makeup, would you take them as a person who knows what they are doing and is good at their job? Or would they be perceived as a person who should be a student in the classroom rather than teaching it. Although they may be well educated, the appearance is often the first thing that you will remember. The teacher will most likely have issues from both students and other faculty members, due to the fact that there are certain expectations of a teacher. Faculty, students and even parents will be more likely to put said teacher in a position that could even come across as bullying, or making them feel uncomfortable in the workplace.

Many times this can lead to harassment charges or worse. This will ultimately become a never ending battle for the teacher due to the fact that they want to stand out, rather than fit in with the conformity and societal expectations of a teacher. This is the same for children. Although they are young, they still make first impressions of people, and within that first five minutes they decide how they can behave and what they think they will be able to get away with. If the teacher is well dressed and appears to be neat and clean they will be more likely to gain the respect of the class and also be more able to show authority when disciplining students. Although teachers should have the ability to dye their hair it should be kept to natural looking colors.

This will allow students to not become distracted trying to count the number of colors in their teacher’s hair, or why they matched stripes with plaid. There are some things that should be left outside of a learning environment. Also by setting a good example for the student the teacher is teaching them what is expected when they eventually enter the workplace whether it be professional or not. Another issue that has arose recently is cell phone use in the classroom. Over the past few years with social media sites and texting becoming more and more popular so is the use of cell phone by not only students but teachers. If a teacher is using their cell phone to text, update their Facebook, or even Twitter that is not only proving to be a distraction for the student who are trying to work, but that also risks the teacher breaking confidentiality laws.

In a situation where the teacher is using their personal cell phones during class it allows for the student to feel that they should be able to also. There are a few schools where the teachers even allow the students to use them during class. How can a child get the most out of their schooling if they are too busy texting friends or updating statuses on social media websites? Wouldn’t it be more productive for the teacher to take that time and do the job that they are being paid for? During the time that they are teaching a class they should be doing just that. Not worrying about who is going where over the weekend or what else is going on in their friend’s day. It should be utilized for teaching to the fullest extent of the time they are there, that is why they chose the profession of being a teacher in the first place. In the past there were strict guidelines as to expectations in the workplace.

Recently due to men and woman trying to use freedom of speech and unconformity it is coming to a point where the entire United States is becoming very relaxed as to what will be accepted. Many times this is due to the fact that people are afraid to voice their opinion for fear of repercussions for doing so. On the other hand although freedom of speech and the ability to dress and present one’s self as they would like, there is still a time and place for everything. By accepting a position in a professional environment such as a school the teacher is in turn giving up that privilege for the time that they are at work. That is not to say that they can’t act and dress as they please out of school. Just as a teacher is expected to not use foul language and be buddies with their students they need to do so by presenting themselves as an authorative figure rather than just another fellow student.

There needs to be a separation in order for the learning environment to stay productive. Teachers of today should be worried more about the learning environment they are working in rather than if they look stylish for the students. Their clothing should be of a mature, classy, and professional manner and they should also try to keep hair and makeup to minimal and natural earth tones. This will allow for a productive learning environment for children and also allow for the teacher to be taken seriously by the students and fellow staff members. Dressing and presenting themselves in such a manner will also reduce any questions as to who is in charge of the classroom when another authorative figure walks into the classroom.

References:

Lewis, B. (N.D.). The Right Threads= The Right Classroom Atmosphere. Retrieved from http://k6educators.about.com/od/classroommanagment/a/attire/htm

Barker, O. (2003). School Enforces Dress Codes For Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/ufe/2003-08-20-dress-code_x.htm

Lipoo, J. (n.d.). Proper Attire For Teachers. Retrieved from http://joelipoo.hubpages.com/hub/properattire-for-teachers.com

Cheng, Yin Cheong. Journal of Educational Research. Jan/Feb96, Vol. 89 Issue 3

Gorham, Joan; Cohen, Stanley H.. Communication Quarterly, Summer99, Vol. 47 Issue 3


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