Professor George Huang conducted a quantitative study on whether or not high school teachers believed that dressing professionally had any impact on their effectiveness as a teacher. Huang commented that high school is a place where many are judged by their appearances. Just as peers may judge each other based on what they wear and how they present themselves, they can also judge teachers. Teachers who dress professionally are more likely to be respected in the classroom. Huang’s study found that at least half of the teachers interviewed preferred semi-formal attire at school. The teachers also believed that professional attire had a positive effect on the 12 factors of teaching effectiveness including; ability to control disruptions, ability to motivate students, encouragement of students, help students value learning, ability to craft good questions, ability to get children to follow directions, ability to calm students, ability to establish a classroom management system, ability to vary assessment strategies, ability to provide alternative explanations, ability to assist families, and ability to implement alternative strategies.
I am not sure that professional dress impacts each of the aforementioned areas, but I definitely think that it’s important to dress professionally in the classroom. We live in a very appearance-centered world where looks say a lot about who you are. So although I do not think attire can affect all twelve areas, I do think it makes a difference in how students respond to a person of authority, which can impact teaching effectiveness. I believe students are more likely to listen to and connect with teachers who present themselves in a professional manner. First impressions are especially important, so the first few days of school are critical.
As a young person who wishes to teach high school, I think this is especially important. I have already been substituting in schools where I am only a few years older than the students. In many cases I have been mistaken for a student. However, I have not had any problems with classroom management in these classrooms. I believe this is partially because of how I present myself, both in the way I dress and in the way I conduct myself. This will become even more important when I have my own classroom and must establish my own classroom management techniques. The first few weeks will be crucial in establishing myself as the classroom authority. My mentor teachers always say to start strict and loosen up later on once I have students actively engaged in the class.