It gives me great pleasure to bring my personal grooming workshops around Singapore schools since 2009. Besides training students and undergraduates, we have also been actively training teachers and lecturers.
Well, there is no doubt the main role of teachers is to educate their students. Yet as role models, teachers have to first take care of their own appearance and how they conduct themselves. Only then will the students look up to them and respect them.
If you ask me, respect cannot be demanded. It has to be earned.
I remember respecting all my teachers back then during my school days because they carried themselves so well. But honestly, as society progresses, so have the rules of personal grooming. Male teachers certainly do not want to dress like their fathers or grandfathers in ill-fitting 1970s styles or pleated pants. Similarly, female teachers do not want to look as though they were transfixed in a time capsule.
Looking smart and professional is definitely going to boost teachers’ confidence and self-esteem. And this in turn will earn them the respect from their students.
The same goes for etiquette. Dressing well and not knowing how to carry off that finesse is not going to score any teacher brownie points regardless of the occasion.
Personal grooming and etiquette go hand in hand as they complement each other perfectly. It’s like using a knife and fork. You can’t use one without the other.
Here’s my essential 3 point style guide to dressing that every teacher should have. Enjoy!
#1: Dress Simple
The main role of a teacher is to educate. It is not to distract. So keep your attire simple. Simplicity is key in any educational environment.
Teachers can dress simply by keeping accessories to a bare minimum. For female teachers, this means probably wearing only a pair of earrings and/or necklace.
Strictly no bling bling earrings or pearl necklaces as these draw attention to the wrong place.
Imagine walking into a classroom and having your students stare admiringly at your Channel earrings or Swarovski bejeweled necklace. They should be focusing on the lesson instead.
For male teachers, it is even easier to adopt simplicity. There is no need for a tie (except the school tie which must be worn during weekly morning assemblies). The only accessory a male teacher needs is a belt. Choose a nondescript one without a logo.
#2: Dress Sharp
I don’t know about you but I always almost look at a person’s shoes. You may dress well but chances are you will neglect your shoes. That is sad but true.
A person is judged by his or her shoes. So if you have never really bothered, it’s time to sit up and get a good pair of comfortable shoes.
I suggest investing in a pair of leather shoes. This is especially for teachers who have to stand for hours in classrooms making good comfortable shoes an imperative must-have.
Male teachers can go for Oxford laced-ups or loafers. Female teachers can go for kitten heels or low pumps.
Remember, shoes are the finishing touch to a lasting positive first impression.
From shoes, let’s move up to your crowning glory. Yes, I’m talking about the hair. A messy, out-of-bed look is definitely a no no. So too is a hair that is too well greased that it attempts to give Saturday Night Fever a run for its money. Nor an Afro-styled hairstyle that is probably the result of having had a super bad hairday in the salon.
Appropriate amounts of hair products should be used to keep your hair in check. That’s all.
#3: Dine Skillfully
It is interesting that as we all attempt to race against time, many job opportunities, business deals and project proposals are discussed over meals.
While new teachers may grapple with this fact, the more seasoned ones will know this is indeed true. Less you get overwhelmed trying to think how to react at a dining table, fret not. Here’s what you should be doing as you dine with finesse and style.
Follow my 3 dining rules and you will be enjoying both your meal and the discussion.
• Use your cutlery from outside in. You will never get lost ever again.
• Keep the conversation going in between your meal. But do not talk when your mouth is full.
• Order foods that you can manage. Steer clear of difficult to manage foods like prawns and lobsters. And from my experience teaching dining etiquette, most participants meet their nemesis called the spaghetti.
It is always heartening to have participants come up to shake my hands and say thank you after workshops. This is a simple act of appreciation. I remember thanking my teachers after receiving my report cards each year. In the same manner, my teacher participants thanked me for delivering a fun-filled training, loaded with gems of wisdom that they can utilise in their careers ahead 🙂