A reader asks the following question:

SC,

This may be this is a silly question, but I understand that actions are important. What are your (and other LYSers) thoughts on administrator’s dress? And what constitutes professional dress?

SC Response This is a great question and one that we seem to address once every 6 months or so on the LYS blog, so let’s hit it again.

First a quick review on my position with student dress codes.

A. A dress code for students is important, up until it is not.  Meaning that campuses that use dress codes to build esprit de corp, build pride in self, and/or to give their students the advantage of a good first impression have a much easier time implementing and maintaining a dress code than the campus that uses a dress code to control, punish and/or segregate students.  But for the campuses using a dress code for the right reason, at some point esprit de corp, pride and competitive advantage no longer has anything to do with dress.

B. Regardless of the reason for the student dress code (to build or punish), if staff does not model the expectation, drop the code.  The most effective way to teach skills and behaviors is to model them. So if staff isn’t modeling, they are teaching ineffectively.  If something is important to teach, effective instruction must be the expectation.  If it is not important to teach, then why are you doing it?

Now to address the specifics of your question, what about administrator dress?

I have a simple rule, a campus leader must ask him or herself these questions every morning.  

1. If I get an unexpected call to meet with the Superintendent or the Board today, am I presentable? 

2. If I have to fill in for the Superintendent at the Chamber of Commerce meeting (or similar group) today, am I presentable?

3. If the media shows up with cameras at my campus today, am I presentable?

If the answer to any of the above question is “No,” change clothes.

Some will point out, “But today is Field Day, or Pep Rally, or….”   

My response, “Exactly. That’s when the unexpected happens.” 

I hope this helps.

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