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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles: Implement Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment

How Fashion Impacts Teacher Confidence
Sharon Pettey-Taylor

Remember the excitement of getting ready for back-to-school shopping, particularly in anticipation of brand new outfits to show off during the early days of fall? For many of us, this tradition of beginning the school year with a fashionable, shopping spree remains one of our sweetest childhood memories. So, we may ask, “how can we recapture this exhilaration in our adult, professional lives?”

One of our primary roles as educators is to engage our students in learning, “providing opportunities for students to think, discuss, interact, reflect, and evaluate content; to learn and practice skills in meaningful context.” (PTS)   Being distracted with thoughts of our personal style could be viewed as a very low priority, on a long list of promoting student learning experiences. Trendsetting, for any reason, may appear in academia to be under the domain of a student “fashionista” subculture. But, well-coordinated, professional attire has its advantages as we stand at the head of the class each day.

You may still ask, “What’s fashion got to do with it?” (the exception being: if your school has adopted a uniform code of dressing for staff as well). Quite a bit. Many studies have revealed that feeling good about how we look inspires self-confidence. How often have we enjoyed a professional development forum, totally “engaged” as the well-groomed, articulate presenters captured our attention. Very often their attractive “packaging” of their presentation had a very positive affect on our learning experience.
According to fashion experts, “clothes that fit correctly and that flatter your body type should never be underestimated [emphasis added]. Colors that you like and that coordinate are important as well. Clothing and accessories for a given situation will give you confidence and make you feel as though you belong.”

Many of our colleagues have volunteered some very helpful hints towards inexpensively expressing personal style, while boosting self-esteem:

  • Look to enhance and accessorize the clothing you already have.
  • Don’t be afraid of color variations and/or unusual patterns (as long it does not create a major distraction to the learning process).
  • Take a colleague/friend along for an objective opinion as you try on several outfits.
  • Seek out fabrics that are wrinkle-free and stain resistant, with creases defined  in all the right places.
  • Recognize that lining and shoulder pads can enhance any attire.
  • Mix and match – the tried and true method to ensure the possibility of maximizing multiple wardrobe combinations.

Meeting our professional obligations is our duty; “balancing professional responsibilities and maintaining motivation” (PTS) is our goal. Striving toward both may be less stressful when we are at ease with ourselves. Demonstrating confidence, aided by a sense of fashion, may be just one more link to providing a positive role model to our students and the communities we serve.


See, http://improve.com./personal-appearance.php

Engaging and Supporting Student in Learning. Developing as a Professional.
The Professional Teaching Standards. New Teacher Center at The University of California, Santa Cruz, 2004.

Do you have a comment, question, or suggestion about this article? E-mail Sharon.


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