The first thing you need to know is that I am not a fashion guru. I am the sort of person who has a wardrobe full of greys and blues with nothing more extreme than a slight stripe. There are, however, two distinct sections to my wardrobe. One side is work clothes and the other side is everything else apart from work. You might find this ‘insignificant’ but does what I wear for work actually matter? And, if it does, does what I wear actually change learner’s opinion about me or my ability to do my job
From School to University
When I was teaching in school there was definitely a dress code. Smart trousers, shirt and tie with an option for trackies when we were teaching games or P.E.
There was always a huge debate during the summer months and after restraint training, whether we needed to wear ties. But generally no one ever challenged it and like all good teachers, we just conformed.
When I arrived at university, my first job was to check out what people were wearing. It appeared that everyone in the Faculty had work clothes similar to me and I relaxed into wearing my usual school wear. But, as I continued to watch and see people outside the faculty I became aware that jeans, casual shirts and hoodies were common attire. There was the occasional suited person, but there appeared to be less of a dress code. I was even more interested when I watched a video on YouTube when the tutor from Oxford appeared to be dressed in a casual shirt and cargo pants! Maybe I had got the dress code all wrong!
Does it reflect me as a tutor?
I am always interested in what people/learners think of me. I know that this can be very negative and I shouldn’t care less. But I want learners to see me as someone who can teach effectively and who knows their job.
In order to see if what I wear would influence what the learners thought of me, I did a very brave thing and asked the learners.
Does it matter what I wear? was the question I asked.
Well I don’t think you would look good in joggers, came the reply!
I’m not sure if what I wear would make a difference. I really do feel that I need to set a standard. I am doing a professional job which requires some adhering to professional standards. I don’t think that these standards would change if I was wearing my jeans, but I do know I wouldn’t feel right. And my mode of dress is not actually determined where I am working. It is actually to do whether I am teaching or not. During summer and non-teaching days when there is not a student in sight, then you will find me in shorts and jeans all the time!
Probably just a choice
I do think, that I like to have a set of clothes that are for work. It means that I can get out of my work clothes when I get home and also leave them in the wardrobe when I am on holiday. There is something quite nice to think that there will be a set of clothes which will not see the light of day when I am on holiday. Although it is often a problem that I can’t fit back into them after lavishing on junk food!
So my conclusion. I would hope that the learners would not be bothered what I wore – apart from joggers! Although I might see it as part of my professional identity, I don’t think they see it. I think they judge me more on my ability to make learning fun. relevant and engaging. Well, that’s what I believe and I am definitely going to stick with that.