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Courtney Langton

Courtney is an aspiring high school teacher. Her teachables are History and English, but she's happy to teach anything that doesn't involve numbers or formulas. Her particular interest is in promoting gender equity and anti-oppression both in and outside the classroom. She writes a detailed To-Do list every morning, and enjoys nothing more than a good book and a plate of bacon on a rainy Saturday.

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan's primary interest is moral education. His teachable subjects are English and Music. He encourages critical thinking and hopes to teach his students to recognize, and strive for, what is truly important to them without forgetting to be compassionate, tolerant, and open-minded along the way. He likes making analogies and his favourite is one that compares life to jumping on a trampoline.

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RE: Dress Codes
Thursday, August 27, 2009

Here comes the usual mea culpa and explanation for our absence: School starts in 5 days and we're both in the process of packing, moving in, and unpacking. Chaos abounds! 

It's funny that Ashley and Jon should bring up the subject of dress codes, because that exact issue has been plaguing me all summer and especially in the last few weeks as I took advantage of the back-to-school clothing sales.

I remember once scoffing at a teacher of mine who seemed to cycle through the same six to ten outfits all year long. When I told my mom about it, she reminded me that to teachers, school was a job and not necessarily the place for self-expression. She suggested that the teacher in question might have dozens of fabulous outfits, but that she clearly wouldn't be wasting them on her students.

Now that I'm preparing to become a teacher, this concept defines my attitude towards my work outfits. School is not the place to try out new trends or show everyone who I truly am as a person. As a rule, I dress far more conservatively for school than I would anywhere else, including an office building, because I am an authority figure for my young students. I wear things to church that I wouldn't wear to school, because at school I need to be taken seriously, and sadly, an ill-thought-out outfit could jeopardize that.

When I stocked up on professional essentials this summer (on a limited budget, of course), I added the following staples to my wardrobe:

- tailored black suit jacket
- plain black skirt, past knee-length
- two crew-neck sweaters
- soft white button-down shirt
- two cardigans
- two plain shell tanks
- wide-legged, dark-washed tailored jeans
- khaki dress pants

I got most things from the Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic, the go-to stores for teachers. They're classic, affordable, and still cute. I don't completely stifle my personality, of course, but I make sure that any personal touches are subtle and appropriate. For example, one of my sweaters is in my favourite dark, bright pink, and I'll wear vibrant turquoise beads with the white button-down. Anyway, that's pretty much an idea of my teacher-clothes style. Non-fashion people, you can zone back in now.

My biggest issue when it comes to school dress is looking age-appropriate. Ok, not age-appropriate so much as older than the students. Every time I tell someone that I'll be teaching grades eleven and twelve, the reaction is always the same: "But you look like YOU could be a grade eleven or twelve!" I hate being asked for a hall pass or looked at funny because I go to the front of the class instead of sitting down in the back. Usually it's the adults who mistake me for someone younger, since the kids know I'm not dressed anywhere near cool enough to be one of them.

My amazing hairdresser recently helped me out on the looking-professional-and-not-seventeen front. She gave me a stylish, sophisticated (but low-maintenance) haircut, suggested a mature approach to eye makeup, and advised me to take more care with my accessories to make a thoughtful, put-together outfit. I'm not really the kind of person who makes much of an effort with any of those things, save my usual plain necklace/bracelet combo, natural-looking makeup, and occasionally-straightened hair, so being able to bring my look up a notch age-wise is important to me. I don't want to look overdone, but I do want to be taken seriously.

It seems a bit ridiculous to me that as our entire society shills "age-defying beauty," botox, viagra, etc etc, all with the goal of making the user look and feel younger, here I am struggling to do the exact opposite. So I'm making every effort to smile wider and laugh harder, if only to hasten the crows feet and prevent double-takes on Parent-Teacher night. 

We don't start our placements til October, but sometime after we've started in our host schools, we'll post pictures of our teaching clothes to see if you approve or have any tips.

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Courtney posted at 8:24 PM - Comments (2)

2 Comments:

I'm beginning to wonder what people think a 20 something year old is supposed to look like. I think what doesn't help is that so many high school students look older than they truly are. I'm sure if you are confident enough, your students will respect you as your teacher and an authority figure regardless of how young you look.

I only wish I had more room to pack clothes to bring along while I am in practicum. (It's also going to be difficult not to spend a fortune on clothing while being so near Toronto.) I like the idea of posting pictures of your classroom attire.

By Blogger Ashley, at August 28, 2009 at 11:41 PM  

"I'm beginning to wonder what people think a 20 something year old is supposed to look like."

I just thought about this and realized how true it was! I guess we just make the jump between 17 and 30.

By Blogger Jonathan, at August 28, 2009 at 11:55 PM  

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