Teachers Deserve to Dress Comfortably — Here’s Why

Teachers Deserve to Dress Comfortably — Here's Why cover image

I happen to teach at a school that requires students to wear uniforms, while the teachers are expected to dress “professionally”. Now it’s possible that some of us may use that term loosely, but quite frankly I think it isn’t loose enough. I’m not a fashionista in any way, shape or form. Let’s be honest, on a teacher’s salary how could I be? I still think shopping at Target is a luxury, but beyond that I have a deep, burning desire to be comfortable. Dressing in pajama pants and hoodies makes me more relaxed, calmer, and overall a better and more productive human being. So why do I have to pour my body into tight fighting clothes, uncomfortable shoes and (gasp!) neckties?


Kids ask me all the time why they have to wear uniforms and I don’t. It’s a fair question. I usually tell them that it’s my reward for actually completing school and that one day when they graduate, they too can dress however they want. And every time I say that I die a little inside because I know it’s not true. When you graduate you’ll eventually get a job, and most of those jobs make you wear uniforms in some way or another. It could be the ever-stylish brown shirt and pant combo of the guy working the fry machine, or those devilishly handsome blue vests they hand out at Wal-Mart. Either way, uniforms exist in the real world too.


Teachers, however, should get an extra special no-uniform pass. Nothing we do should be done in business attire. Early education teachers are constantly on the floor helping students with their artwork, cleaning up messes, wiping noses, and other activities that should never be done in a dress and heels. Yoga pants and baggy t-shirts would be so much better. Even Middle and High School teachers have science experiments, cafeteria messes, projectile vomiting students and more. Not exactly the kind of work that lends itself to a suit and tie.


Do you think if I had my druthers I would choose to wear this stuff? I’d be rolling into my classroom every morning with flip-flops, flannel pants and one of my multitudes of hoodies. I own many hoodies. I have an unnatural affinity for them that is starting to border on the psychotic. They are, in fact, the perfect clothing item. Functional, with its pockets perfectly positioned in front of me. Versatile, with the ability to wear the hood either up or down depending on the weather conditions. And the comfort… oh, the comfort! It’s like a warm hug from an old friend. Those poly-blend, cotton fibers wrapping around you, letting you know that everything’s going to be OK. The outside world and all of its troubles cannot penetrate the force-field of calm my hoodie provides.

We are expected to chase kids down at recess in all sorts of weather, teach in buildings with various degrees of air conditioning and stay on our feet for hours at a time. So I say it’s time to re-think the dress code completely. Let teachers be comfortable and see what a difference it makes in the classroom. Down with slacks! Away with high-button collars! Up with yoga pants and flannel!



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David Rode

Dave is a middle school math teacher. He's also a musician, a community theater, dad to two amazing children, and he doesn't get a lot of sleep.

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