Saturday, September 26, 2009

An Open Letter to Super Teachers Everywhere!

Dear Fellow Teachers,

Thank you for being so great in the classroom. Thank you for being creative, for being a sounding board, for being generally awesome and dedicating yourselves to our little friends. But we need to talk.

For many years, I have watched you, coming to school in sweatpants, sneakers (and I don't mean cute ones. I mean cross-trainers.) and hoodies. I have seen you enter the building and wondered if you came in to write your sub plans and leave because you were sick. And then I watched you stay. To teach. In SWEATPANTS! I have seen you stand in front of parents, students and administrators looking like you had just rolled out of bed and were going to run to the grocery store. I have seen you in jeans that look old and faded. I have seen you wear tank tops that look like gym-wear and t-shirts that belong on teenagers. I wanted to shake you, I wanted to yell and I wanted to strangle you. But most of all, I just wanted to take you shopping. 

"I don't have time for shopping" you say.
"I don't have the money for shopping" you cry.
"It does not matter what I wear. I am a super teacher and my students will learn regardless!" you roar!

Guess what. You do, you do and it does. Let me tell you how and why.

Issue #1 You don't have time for shopping.
Yes, you do. You have time to have drinks after work, you have time for shopping. You have time for Facebook on your computer, you have time for shopping. Get to the mall, or Target, or Kohls and pick up a pair of pants that fit you. A top with sleeves. Shoes that would not help you make a quick get-away in case of an armed robbery. Can't make it there? Welcome to the wonderful world of online shopping. Get out your credit card, I will show you how to get free shipping, and buy something. It takes 10 minutes and you don't have to go anywhere. Every store now has a website. Find it. Use it. Please.

Issue #2 You don't have the money to go shopping
Really? You have money to spend on classroom supplies but not on yourself? You have money to spend on going out, but not on your wardrobe? You spend money on stupid tchotchkes with cats dangling from a branch that say "Hang in There!" but you cannot bring yourself to spend $20 on a pair of pants that do not sag in the butt and actually fit you? Please. My friends, clothing options abound in this day and age. I am not saying "Get thee to Bloomingdale's and buy $500 Alexander McQueen sequin leggings" I am not even saying "Get thee to Macy's and spend $100 on Ralph Lauren or J.Crew" I am saying drag yourself over to Old Navy and slap on a pair of trousers that will run you about $30. Less if they are on sale and you have a coupon. Which I do. You can borrow it. Make sure the pants have a waist, make sure they have a button or snap closure. No drawstring. Make sure they reach down PAST your ankles. Get a top. One with some sort of sleeve. One that fits. NO SWEATSHIRTS! If you don't like the tops, get a pair of shoes. Real shoes. They have flat ones and they are comfortable. NO SNEAKERS. The whole trip should run you about $45-$50. Don't like Old Navy? Fine. Look in the sales racks of Talbots, Ann Taylor or Macy's. You can find basic pieces for as little as $12.

Issue #3: It doesn't matter what I wear, I know what I am doing and my kids will still learn.
Yes, Super Teachers everywhere, yes. You DO know what you are doing. You are all smart, wonderful teachers. You are creative and caring and despite the mountains of crap that get piled on us you still manage to provide your students with wonderful experiences. But I listen to your complaints. I hear you when you say "There is no respect for us!" I understand you when you let loose a tirade against parents who don't trust you and who undermine you. Guess what? Part of the reason the kids and parents get away with what they do is the way you dress. You think I am crazy. That it does not matter, but it does. Stop looking like a slob.
When you show up looking like you just rolled out of bed, you exude no authority. No confidence. Nothing that says "Hey! Guess what? Not only do I know what I am doing but I am in charge here. This is my domain, and I rule!" If you walked into a courtroom and saw a judge dressed in her pajamas, you would lose a little respect for her. You might think of her as your buddy. "Hey! She dresses like me!" But she is not your buddy. It is her court room and she makes the rules. The robes of office exude a certain power. They send a message. Your classroom is your court room.
People in business dress in suits and professional wear because it shows a respect for what they do and for their fellow associates. They wear things that say "I take this job seriously, and you need to as well." They do not wear t-shirts that say "Abercrombie" or "Hollister" because they are not 14. And neither are you.
Now, please, do not put on a suit. But stop looking like you forgot that you have a job and that you are in a position of authority. Show parents and administrators and your students that you respect what you do and you respect the people around you. You would not show up in jeans at a wedding, right? Why? Because it's not appropriate. Because it shows no respect for the occasion. Why would your job require anything less? You are a professional. Act like it.

"But I won't be comfortable!" you wail. Grow up. Suck it up and get over it.If your clothes fit, you will be comfortable. You can be perfectly comfortable as well as appropriately dressed.
"I don't live in a fancy place!" comes the grumble. "I need to identify with my population!"That is a bull***t excuse. I am not saying put on the Chanel, I am saying stop looking like a slob. Just because your district is not fancy is no excuse for you to be slovenly. Cotton is washable. Last week a teacher at my school wore dark, tailored jeans, a really cute white top, makeup and adorable shoes. She looked great. And not fancy. She looked put together and casually professional. I would have saved the jeans for Friday, but whatever. It goes to show it can be done. So do it.

That's all, my fellow Educators. Please think about what I have to say and when you go to your closet Monday morning, let your hands skip over the hoodie, trail past the saggy terry cloth capri's and find their way to the black chinos you then pair with real shoes. Your profession will thank you. And so do I.


  1. I hope you don't really have fellow teachers that dress this way at your school.

  2. and I really hope it's not me....

    but really, go ahead and tell me if it is.
    I can take it.