*Please note all opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect on my Principal, School, School Board or even my own husband.

**Also note that although I am a teacher, I do have a learning disability. You may see evidence of this through my writing with my many run-on sentences and homonym mix-ups. I still have good ideas and won't let that stop me from expressing them and I tell my students the same thing.

***Even though many people think teachers know everything, I do not, in fact I know I have a lot to learn and that is part of why I love teaching. Feel free to teach me knew things, but when you leave comments, I ask that you be nice about it - thanks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

School Dress Codes

Hi folks, I received an email from my Vice Principal reminding us about dress code seen as the weather is getting warming. It sparked some interesting discussions from our staff... and all of a sudden I had the inspiration for this next post. 

Here is what the Dress Code expectations are for my school board:

The dress code is based on the expectations of a professional learning workplace and should reflect a safe and respectful environment and is in compliance with OCDSB Policies and Procedures (P.014.SCO). The standards should reflect the following;

  • respect for learning
  • reflect the decency of a professional work environment
  • respect for the rights and dignity of others
  • respect the safety of persons and property and;
  • is free from the promotion of violence, drugs and alcohol.
Students who fail to live up to the dress code standards will be expected to change to meet the dress code.

So, I guess my question is:   What is reasonable or respectable in my opinion will vary from how someone else views it - pretty subjective, right? IF we go by this code, then personally I don't have an issue with spaghetti straps (which normally we don't allow at school) or even a bra strap showing for that matter, as long as it is reasonable.

For me, I would say no mid riffs showing, no see through shirts, no upper thigh showing, no butt cracks showing, no black bras under white shirts, no muscle shirts with hairy armpits... 

The issue with tank tops for me is not the strap itself, it is the low fronts or tightness.  For younger girls, really who cares if they wear spaghetti straps - I don't. But for more developed girls, often this becomes a different issue with let's say "extra cleavage" showing...  if we are going to get into that, well then I'VE got a problem myself... just saying!  

And let's not forget about boys: muscle shirts for sports seems reasonable, but during class time maybe not as necessary or fitting the "professional work environment" code. Plus I don't want to see his boxer briefs sticking out the top of his pants AND I don't want his pants down to his knees either. 

I don't appreciate ANY form of racism, sexism or swearing on T-shirts.  Freedom of speech may exist, but I don't believe these are necessary or appropriate for an elementary school setting and I wouldn't appreciate anyone wearing shirts like that in public at all. Unfortunately for me, I only have power over kids who sit in my classroom and not the guy across from me at the mall.

My philosophy: If you see a student wearing something that you wouldn't let your own child wear - address it.

Personally, I don't think it is in anyone's best interest to enforce a lot of dress code worries. 
  • For teachers, let's face it, it becomes one more thing we have to focus on and I'd rather spend my time engaging a student than battling them about their attire. Plus certain teachers are more vigilant with these types of rules, then others, which leaves certain teachers being the "mean" teacher and others being the "teacher who doesn't care" - this then takes us to a lack of consistency which causes issues in itself.  Then we have the whole issue of male teachers, asking female students to put on a sweater - like that's not awkward at all I am sure. 
  • In the case of students, teachers end up being that person who is nagging them about one more thing and then they aren't going to come to us when they have a problem or need to talk.  Kids need to be able to show their identity and uniqueness, but at the same time, students need to feel safe and not uncomfortable with what someone else is wearing.
  • And parents, well as a parent, I model what I think is appropriate and only purchase clothes for my child that I would let them wear.  I don't have teenagers yet... wait, my daughter just turned 13, so I technically that is a lie. She's not buying her own clothes yet and let's hope that when she does, she knows what is appropriate.  It is our job as parents to teach children to: respect their own bodies, expect others to respect our bodies and to know the difference between "looking good" and "looking trashy".
  • For administration like our V.P., well I'd rather he be helping a student than have to dish out punishments for dress code violations.
In the end, it all comes down to respect.  Kids need to learn to respect and appreciate not only their own bodies, but the people around them. They need to dress in a reasonable and appropriate way to not make others feel uncomfortable.  If I feel uncomfortable with what they are wearing, then as a teacher, I feel it is my job to say something about it and ensure the other kids in my class don't also feel uncomfortable.  


  1. Thanks for this write up, really appreciate your perspective and not just the "rules"

    1. Nice to know that the perspective is appreciated. Still trying to figure out what sort of audience is out there for this type of blog. I've got lots of hits so far, but not too many comments, so thanks for sharing!

  2. Dress codes are important; I see so many teens/young adults showing up to job interviews or for work inappropriately dressed for a work environment. Children need to learn what is acceptable and expected from a young age. When I was in high school, the rule was "No B's": no boobs, bra straps, bellies, or bums showing. And no spaghetti straps because usually the bra strap would show. I've heard of many places having a rule that your clothes shouldn't be any shorter than your fingertips when your arms are held straight at your side. I agree with what you said about no see through tops, but a see through t-shirt with a spaghetti strap tank top underneath wouldn't bother me at all.

    1. I've never heard the "No b's" rule, but that is cute! I did have one parent who strongly disagreed with my stance, they didn't comment here, but talked about how having a dress code was body shaming their child and that if a teacher second guessed what they were wearing she would be very upset.


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