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Do Online Teachers Need to Dress Professionally?


The type of clothing and teacher fashion one wears “Influences cognition broadly, impacting the processing style that changes how objects, people, and events are construed... In addition to influencing us, our dress influences our students as well. Without a doubt, teachers are role models for their students, so when teachers dress professionally it sends important messages to students. We teach our students not just about the academic subject, but also how an adult professional look and behaves."


We believe everything we do makes some kind of statement. By dressing professionally for our students to see, we are giving them an implicit message about how we see ourselves and our task. The more professionally we dress, the more we tell our students they are important.


This might seem like a stretch to some, but the connection between our appearance and the significance of an occasion rings true in so many places. We wear suits and dresses to weddings. We get a haircut and dress attractively for a first date. We wear sweats and slouch when crashing alone on our couch. We even dress up our gifts in fancy paper and packaging to make it seem more special. Our character doesn’t change in these settings, but our appearance does, which communicates how we are assigning significance to any given setting.


We believe the degree of our professionalism when we dress for lessons sends the implicit message to students, “I take this seriously. I care about you.”


Imagine I am about to have a lesson with a student preparing for a business interview and I appear in a T-shirt giving advise on how one should present themselves for a professional business interview, is there some kind of irony in that?


Our students will one day become professionals themselves (if not already, and if already, do we owe them professional courtesy), we are not only modeling for them the way a professional behaves but also how one looks. They say that we ought to “Dress for success,” but in my opinion, "the success that we dress for is that of our students".

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