Appropriate Dress for English Teachers

Hi everyone,

I was wondering how individuals dress for work while teaching English. I suppose it depends on the school but, I am interested to hear about how English teachers dress. I always wear a suit to interviews but I don’t plan on taking one to Taiwan.

Will I be alright going to interviews in nice dress pants, shoes, and polo or should I shirt and tie it.

Wickable polos and straight khakis may be my work clothes otherwise I wear baggy pants, cargo shorts, graphic tees and what not. A lot of skate surf style clothes.

Nice casuals like you describe are usually enough, although you might want to add a tie for the interview. If you look professional, you’ll get more respect, too. Beards are fine but neatly trimmed is better. Just my opinion.

Dress well. { skip the berks for the interview! }
Suit and tie in this heat is pointless, but that does not mean showing up looking like you just came from the beach is acceptable either.

Lose the earring, nose rings and whatever other visible piercings you have. [ Just looks unprofessional in a classroom setting no matter what country you’re in. ]

Dread locks?.. :roflmao:

[quote=“SoulDragoN”]Dress well. { skip the berks for the interview! }
Suit and tie in this heat is pointless, but that does not mean showing up looking like you just came from the beach is acceptable either.

Lose the earring, nose rings and whatever other visible piercings you have. [ Just looks unprofessional in a classroom setting no matter what country you’re in. ]

Dread locks?.. :roflmao:[/quote]

Whatever happened to the ethos of not judging a book by its cover?

Could care less.

This is business.
Do the “individuality/ freedom of self expression BS” on your own time.

These days I almost always wear smart pants and a good shirt in the classroom - makes a difference to how the students see you too.

I disagree completely with how students see you by the style you wear. I dress like I’ve just finished playing basketball. My classes are full with most having waiting lists. So…

But for the interview, snazz it up, dapper dan your duds…

Popularity has little to do with respect. Hell, I’d want a basketball player for a teacher,but if he told me to do my homework, I’d still come to class empty-handed.

Dressing with respect for your students is the easiest way to assert your authority without needing to assert your authority. If you’re only teaching adults, it doesn’t matter as much because they usually choose teachers they want to be friends with and rarely stick around with someone who is very formal when it comes to supplemental instruction. Plus adults rarely have disciplinary problems. It’s pretty rare to have a 30-something man telling his teacher to get stuffed when he’s the one paying the teacher from his own pocket.

With kids, though, who do not get any choice in their teachers, presenting them with someone who shows enough respect to take care in his dress helps in eliminating a lot of disciplinary problems over someone who looks like he’s there to play.

Of course, mind you this is what all professional teaching instructors and experts say to neophyte teachers. Not all teachers or school owners in Taiwan are interested in being professional and are happy as long as the students are happy and therefore paying, so it may not apply to you or the school where you will be working.

And again, dress is not the only way to build the foundation of classroom management as there are people out there who wear ties and still have kids running around fighting while they are trying to teach and on the flip side teachers who have dreads, wear flip flops, and concert tees and have well-behaved students who know when to go crazy and when to tone it down. Classroom management is a many-tentacled thing that involves a lot of work.

But the tendancy is that those who dress with respect for their students tend to get it over those who dress like they’d rather be somewhere else.

Which teachers did you respect more in school? The one who wore athletic shorts and sweatshirts everyday or the one who wore a nice shirt and dress slacks?

When I was in school, ALL the teachers bar the PE teacher and the science teachers wore black robes so you couldn’t see what they were wearing. Those things that look like graduation robes – what the hell are they called again? Science teachers wore lab coats and PE teachers wore tracksuits. I hated them with a passion, each and every one.

Excellent post Imaniou.

Could care less.

This is business.
Do the “individuality/ freedom of self expression BS” on your own time.[/quote]

:laughing:

You seem to be reading rather a lot into my question.

Business, yes, but a classroom is not a corporate boardroom. My fellow teachers and I all dress in clean, comfy casuals. No suits and ties around here, thank Christ. There’s a relaxed, respectful atmosphere throughout the school, with a high degree of professionalism expected of the staff.

We earn the kids and parents’ respect through our job performance, and our students’ academic success. Nobody, to my knowledge, has ever complained about our lack of a formal dress code.

Oh, and by the way, we emphasise tolerance of others’ individuality and freedom of expression. Seems to work fine in the vast majority of cases. You should try it.

Since you are not in Taiwan yet, let me make a few recommendations about the clothes you will bring with you for work.

You are right that polos and nice khakis are the best choice for teaching. When you are going through your closet or shopping for supplies, keep in mind that Taiwan is very hot most of the year and humid all year. You should bring only cotton clothes and it should be thin cotton. For example, I have found that cheaper khakis are sometimes a better deal for bringing here because they are make with thinner material.

It’s hot, but don’t buy oversized clothes because you will probably thin out a bit here. Also, many people don’t have clothes dryers and prefer to use the sun to dry clothes, so you might not need to worry about cheap cotton clothes shrinking. Ironing is not necessary if you fold well.

Be prepared to sweat in your clothes. I think sometimes neutral colors tend to look okay when they are damp, which they will be all of the time here in Taiwan.

Shorts, (like khaki shorts or cargo shorts) are okay for teaching kids in many cases, but if you have hairy or pearly white legs, then you might need some protection from curious little hands.

Levi’s or jeans are okay during our short winter, and they go quite well with a polo.

Some classrooms will have strong air conditioning, and you will be a bit chilly coming in from the humid air into the school or classroom. This is also true about most public buildings, convenience stores, and cafes. You will probably catch a cold in your second or third week here, which we just call a “seasonal adjustment”. For teaching you can prepare layers (light layers).

Bring some nice shoes, such as your leather sports or casual shoes that you can wear while teaching and in a bit more formal situations. Maybe some short hikers or casual shoes. Get these at home where you can be sure to get the right size according to what you are used to. Casual shoes, slippers, sandals, and fun shoes can be easily found here.

Bring a rain jacket. A light rain jacket or windbreaker.

If you have any odd sizes, special tastes, or allergies, prepare all of that stuff before you come. Pack lightly but wisely.

Have a nice trip!

That doesn’t really tell us anything unless you also try dressing smartly on a long-term basis, and report on the results. My point isn’t that good teachers dress well. My point is that looking smart makes students see you differently – I’ve found this out by going both ways.

This next paragraph is explanatory, please don’t read it as bashing.

My teaching style has changed quite a bit since I came back to it from office jobs. I’m not very fun any more. We don’t often play games in class, even with the youngest kids. From the outset I make it clear that I am here to teach and that I expect them to be here to learn, and behave like it. My dress is one aspect of that – it’s a visual way to tell them I am serious about what we’re doing. I’ve been surprised by how effective it’s been.

Obviously dress is only one small part, but it’s an easy thing that puts you straight onto the right footing with them.

[quote=“douglas@taichungpaws.org”]Since you are not in Taiwan yet, let me make a few recommendations about the clothes you will bring with you for work.

You are right that polos and nice khakis are the best choice for teaching. When you are going through your closet or shopping for supplies, keep in mind that Taiwan is very hot most of the year and humid all year. You should bring only cotton clothes and it should be thin cotton. For example, I have found that cheaper khakis are sometimes a better deal for bringing here because they are make with thinner material.

It’s hot, but don’t buy oversized clothes because you will probably thin out a bit here. Also, many people don’t have clothes dryers and prefer to use the sun to dry clothes, so you might not need to worry about cheap cotton clothes shrinking. Ironing is not necessary if you fold well.

Be prepared to sweat in your clothes. I think sometimes neutral colors tend to look okay when they are damp, which they will be all of the time here in Taiwan.

Shorts, (like khaki shorts or cargo shorts) are okay for teaching kids in many cases, but if you have hairy or pearly white legs, then you might need some protection from curious little hands.

Levi’s or jeans are okay during our short winter, and they go quite well with a polo.

Some classrooms will have strong air conditioning, and you will be a bit chilly coming in from the humid air into the school or classroom. This is also true about most public buildings, convenience stores, and cafes. You will probably catch a cold in your second or third week here, which we just call a “seasonal adjustment”. For teaching you can prepare layers (light layers).

Bring some nice shoes, such as your leather sports or casual shoes that you can wear while teaching and in a bit more formal situations. Maybe some short hikers or casual shoes. Get these at home where you can be sure to get the right size according to what you are used to. Casual shoes, slippers, sandals, and fun shoes can be easily found here.

Bring a rain jacket. A light rain jacket or windbreaker.

If you have any odd sizes, special tastes, or allergies, prepare all of that stuff before you come. Pack lightly but wisely.

Have a nice trip![/quote]

Thanks for the great post. I have a nice rain jacket and rain pants that I have used for backpacking and hiking. I will keep all of these things in mind when picking up some new clothes, shoes, and sorting through my closet. Thanks everybody else for your posts too.

I bought a pink shirt for my interview…HA! It worked! Later I started wearing more skater-type stuff. I had a bunch of piercings and a shaved head…but these days I look pretty bland.

I have found that if I dress a bit formal I change at work…I guess it depends a lot on your school and what you do. I teach kiddies so don’t want to think about ruining my pin-stripes by rolling around in the park with them. If you have a Joy school kinda job, you propably spend a lot of time in front of a whiteboard giving lessons…for that I wore jeans and nice T-shirts.(no death metal stuff) For my school now I wear shorts and T-shirts.

My school allows spaghetti straps and my gf is COVERED in tattoos…I’ve tried to wear sleeveless tops but I just feel that it’s taking it a little too far.

The Chinese buxiban teachers at my school all wear casual clothes - mostly jeans/T-shirt combos. So I do more or less the same, except I wear khaki’s/cargo pants instead of jeans. Some of our anqinban teachers have terrible dress sense - pink track/sweat pants with yellow T-shirts for example. I don’t stoop that low.

For footwear, it’s usually low hiking boots. Our classrooms are all shoes-off, so a good pair of socks (no holes) is necessary.

@ Infidel
Do you OWN the school or work there?

Formal ?

Who said anything about formal?
Suit and tie for the men? Panyhose, 3/4 length skirts , blouses and closed shoes for the women? :roflmao:
No.

The culture dictates the dress code.

If your teacher arrives for class with a white shortie halter top, no bra , gut hanging out and short shorts crawling up her ass…[ this was not a pretty sight :unamused: ] what would you suggest?
[parents were not impressed :wink: ]

Or

Male teacher arrives with hair sticking out, reeking of last nights beer in a wrinkled T-shirt with food stains…?[ Kids complaining he looks like a slob and smells?] Which was true…:stuck_out_tongue: What would you do?

Tell them their attire is not appropriate. What’s the big deal? If they want the job, they’ll smarten up their accoutraments.

[quote]
If they want the job, they’ll smarten up their accoutraments.[/quote]
Exactly my point.

  1. Those examples were bad cases, the girl happened at a school I was at in the past, the chinese boss asked Me what I should say to her. She was embarassed to say anything. Too often, because the boss does not want to step on the toes of their teachers, they let a lot of things …sliiiiide. Ergo, the sloppy looking foreign teacher phenomenon.

  2. I Fired the guy.

If the students are not saying anything or not complaining…doesn’t mean squat. They don’t say it to your face. [ like that should come as a surprise] It comes out later in different settiings.

I used to almost always wear good shirts and pants, no tie unless visiting Toe Save.

These days I generally settle for a polo and slacks. I recently bought a pile of identical polos, no logo or nuffink, so that I’m always dressed exactly the same. People notice, you become instantly recognisable. Even Sandman remembers my name now.

Seriously, teaching is selling a product - you! If you have a ‘brand’ that students recognise it’s easier to attract them into your classes. It can be basketball-player brand, it can be the dude-in-a-suit brand, doesn’t matter as long as it’s consistent. Let the students know what to expect. It works for classroom management too, obviously. The brand is your style of teaching and the way you interact with the students as well as just the image you present. (ie substance as well as form) Pick whatever works for you and then stick with it.

The ‘slob’ brand is not very marketable, btw.