Whakaatu – presentation

5 weeks until university opens for 2012.

I’m not sure what to expect – I haven’t received my course guides yet.

What I do know is that I get to spend my first week of study away from the books and in an actual classroom! Yes – excited about that.

Over the last three years, I have had 18 weeks of face-time in classrooms, in 4 different schools, and with 4 different age groups, ranging from new entrants to year 8’s. I have learned a lot and am looking forward to finding out what age group I will get to work with (actually this time, it’s not up to My University. I have already been placed with an Associate in a fantastic school and it will depend on what year group she is teaching this year).

Every school has a unique atmosphere, and it has been an education in itself getting a handle on the different resources available in each – from the brand new schools with their interactive white boards and laptops – to the schools with ‘old-fashioned’ whiteboards and handful of desktop computers. What works in one classroom isn’t going to work everywhere, so I’ve had to be pretty flexible and innovative no matter where I’ve been, depending on what has been on hand.

One thing that is universal is the practical/professional teachers’ dress code. Something that my fellow online students and I have had had a few good laughs over in the past – when we have got it wrong! I have found that most schools frown on jeans and ripped t-shirts (no, no, not through experience – I always ask in advance, gees). Most schools just want you to turn up looking tidy.

I have heard of several less common clauses, such as the ‘no open-toe shoes’ clause (hmm, maybe a safety precaution?) and the ‘no midriffs or g-strings showing’ clause (what – no g-strings showing!) Surely, that is common sense and no teacher male or female would turn up for work with their skimpy underwear on show…good grief.

But even less well known are the ‘dressing for the classroom’ hints and tips you don’t get warned about, such as:

  • don’t wear the top which looks fine when you’re upright but flashes all your cleavage when you stoop for a dropped marker…
  • beware of the shoes with the large lace loops which are certain to get caught on the smallest of low-lying hooks in an effort to trip you up (I had another student tell me about this after he hooked his shoelace on the lace-hook of his other shoe and went crashing to the ground, through a plastic storage box – ouch!) Closely related to this is…
  • the beautiful drapey blouse which is determined to snag on every not so-low-lying hook, no doubt it will also be painting day, he he he…
  • wearing heeled shoes on sports day is just bad advance planning, especially if you’re in the gym and left with the choice of either wearing heeled shoes or slippery stockings (no doubt if this is the case, you will also be wearing the skirt which will fly up over your head when you slip over the glossy gym floor in said stockings).

High-heeled Nike's in hot pink...anyone?

Do you have hints you’d like to share for dressing practically (but professionally) in the classroom?


11 responses to “Whakaatu – presentation

  1. Great tips! Could I also add
    1) For those who like to wear dress shoes, keep a pair of trainers and socks in the classroom for fitness breaks, playground duty or sports;
    2) A good quality warm weather-proof coat (plus hat and gloves depending where you live) is a must for playground duties, road patrol and sports events.It gets cold standing in one place!
    3) In a school setting, underwear is still underwear. No matter how pretty they are, keep the bra straps covered, please.
    4) Long skirts/maxi dresses are super easy to work on and off the floor in.

    Those are a few practical things I have discovered.

    • Thanks for those helpful tips Massey student!
      I have been caught out on tip 1 already. After turning up to school in my nice leather boots and dress pants, I remembered it was cross-country day and the whole school was heading down to a very muddy sheep paddock to run! You can never be too prepared. My boots have never fully recovered.

  2. Awesome! My tip is dress as the teachers dress but on the more over the top side. Some schools the teachers wear jandals in the summer months, so maybe some nice flats or something. Every school has a different dress code, and you just need to make it work for you! The school that I spent my final year at dressed very nice, so looking like you’re part of the team was important.

    But great stuff!!

  3. Hi
    You would be surprised how much things vary from school to school. At my last placement there was a no shoes inside rule for everyone so slip ons became useful as did brightly coloured socks (I taught year 1/2).


    • Hi Stephanie,
      Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. I have been in two schools that had the no-shoes inside rule but notably this only seemed to apply to students. I think it is great that the teachers at your last placement were modelling the rules, and you were thinking about how to make it fun too!

  4. Hi Carolyn. Things seem to be a bit different where I am as well; most public Victorian schools are very happy with neat/clean jeans but they do frown on t-shirts as well. If you’re not allowed jeans, I would be interested to know what you do for footwear because with a skirt or business pants even dressy sneaker can look and feel a bit odd? Thanks, very helpful post, Anna.

    • Hi Anna,
      No jeans is the one rule I have been told by every school so far – but then some teachers I have worked alongside have been wearing tidy jeans, so… I’m sure one day I’ll get to that stage were I can too, but for now, I’ll play it safe. I am a huge fan of the ‘mary-jane’ style shoe, so versatile! I wore heeled boots once – the very day we ended up running all about the tennis court!

  5. I am working as an aide while I finish my undergrad. I would say that a bit of fashion fabulousness gives you authority. Wear trends the kids will know but avoid the 1661 trap (16 from behind, 61 from the front).

    We have an agriculture plot with wet grass, mud and poo. So I bring a change of shoes as I never really know where I’ll be (as will you if you have meadowbanks.)

    And no polar fleece. You wouldn’t think I would have to mention that…

    • Hello there and welcome,
      thank you for your fantastic humour and helpful hint – 1661 indeed, hee!
      Polar fleece – golly, yes, it will be great once that has followed the walk-shorts, socks and sandals combo into fashion oblivion.
      I worked as an aide in the first two years of my programme too – and I miss being at school every day, can’t wait to get back to it.

  6. Oh fab! Aiding is such a great intro to classrooms isn’t it? I hadn’t been around teenagers since I was one 20 years ago so it’s been nice easing into being around them again. Good luck! Will be checking back to see how you went.

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