I was recently on a campus that is having a number of community based issues. I was there to provide some problem solving support. As is often is the case, a number of the sources of contention are self-inflected (though invisible to those closest to the problem). One issue is that there seems to be little respect for the staff by the community. A problem that the staff is perpetuating everyday, without even realizing it.
On this campus, there are staff members who greet the students as the parents drop them off in the morning. This is a good practice. Unfortunately, the staff dresses very casually – shorts, sandals and un-tucked t-shirts. This is not a good practice. When we present ourselves as day-care workers, we often get treated as day care workers.
This is not to say the staff is not qualified, they are. This is not to say that the perception is fair, it probably is not. However, the perception of quality, leads to being treated as quality. Is a Rolex a better watch than a Timex? The answer can be debated, but there is no question which one gets treated better.
My advice to the campus, dress for success. I always preached to my staff that the community did not understand curriculum nor could they recognize good instruction from poor instruction. But, they could judge how we looked and that influenced their initial opinion of everything thing else we did as a campus.
My mother would always tell me that actions speak louder than words. My grandfather would remind me that clothes make the man. Things to consider as you look in the mirror and scan the staff every morning.
Think. Work. Achieve.