I spend a great deal of time when I conduct workshops on classroom management talking about first impressions in building credibility with your students. Some of the workshop participants resist the idea of having to "dress" for class--they believe that the content of what they are saying should override what they are wearing. However, others are agreeing with me that there is a dress code expected, even if it is unwritten.
Santiago Iniguez, Dean of the Instituto de Empresa Business School, states on the BizDeans Talk weblog that "formal dressing shows respect for others." He mentions Patrick Harker, Dean of the Wharton School, who recently "announced the adoption of some measures at his school to strengthen etiquette and discipline, which included respecting a basic dress code..."
Teppo at OrgTheory.net agrees that "formal dress (anything close to business casual suffices) for class creates a more respectful learning atmosphere. "
Gavin Heaton of Sydney, Australia, discusses his university experience in directing students in plays. As he notes, there was a "difference in the style, presentation and effectiveness of the performances based on how I dressed. When I dressed in a blazer the performance was better than when I turned up in ripped jeans. It was pretty clear to me that if I wanted to achieve a high level of team performance, I needed to dress a certain way."
Mike Wagner, a national expert on branding, states, "If you agree that nothing important is going to take place in your classroom, then don’t pay any special attention to your appearance. But then don’t complain when your students get your message and respond in kind. Show your class how important this is to you and you’ll make the right impression."
Our students need us to both act and look the part of someone who is credible.