Are jeans appropriate for teachers to wear?

Quite some time ago we wrote an article about what teachers should wear in the different school systems (aka government, catholic, and independent schools) but as I continue to visit schools and see young teachers at work, I am surprised at what I see.

Young teachers wearing jeans to work 

Each time a new teachers arrives in Australia, they ask me what is appropriate to wear and I always say it is better to be more formal and professional especially as they are young teachers and students are looking nice in their uniforms. Trying to keep a bit of separation between you and your students, is very important in terms of classroom management and respect.

However this year each time I visit my Canadian teachers in Australian schools, I find myself surprised to see many of them in jeans. My belief is that teaching is a profession and in order to be treated and respected like other professions, we should be dressing as such. Of course if you are teaching PE this is slightly different.

One of the reasons (or excuses) that my teachers give when I enquire, is that other teachers at the school are also wearing jeans. Again my belief is for those that are wearing jeans, they have likely been at the school for a very long time, are older and have earned the right to wear jeans. They are not young, new teachers at a school. Is it a Generation Y thing? Am I wrong? Doesn’t it look unprofessional to wear jeans when teaching students?


4 Comments to Are jeans appropriate for teachers to wear?

  1. Carly Bon says:

    Nope. i am one of the “young, new teachers”. I feel I earn respect and classroom discipline by displaying leadership, consistent and fair application of rules and, most importantly, through the enthusiasm, preparedness and breadth of knowledge I bring to each and every class.

    Sadly, these are not the indicators by which many older teachers, whom in your estimation, have “earned the right to wear jeans” are judged. Experience, nor attire, do not guarantee teachers are taken seriously as a profession – by either students or the wider community. What does promote the respect you value is the attitude each teacher brings to their class and the measures of accountability they are willing to engage in.

    My two cents,

    A young, inexperienced, demin-clad teacher.

  2. Leading Out says:

    That’s a great point Carly. When I said, ‘earned the right’, it is a perceived view of the school and isn’t as well accepted with teachers who are young. I fully agree that wearing jeans shouldn’t be decided on age, however I do feel that for teachers who are young and new, in order to separate themselves from the students, it is better to look more professional. There is nothing worse when parents come into the school and think you are one of the students and at that stage when they find out you are their kids teacher, it can be an uphill battle!

  3. Tim says:

    I’m about to move to Aus to teach in Brisbane – I agree with you, Hailey. I have just finished training and my course is big on professionalism – we dress at the same standard as the best-dressed in a school, usually the principal. This means a shirt, tie and dress pants for me. I feel comfortable and professional in this attire. Separation from students isn’t an issue when teaching primary, for me it’s more about other staff perceiving me as an equal who is serious about the job.

  4. Leading Out says:

    Thanks, Tim. That is a great point about dressing the same way your supervisor would. In most cases the administration does set the tone for dress and professionalism. There are ways to find the balance in your professional attire that is both functional and professional.

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