Being Professional

Being Professional.

Professionalism may start with what you wear and how you appear, but it envelopes how you talk to peers, colleagues, parents, and superiors; what you have on your social media; how you act in the teachers’ lounge; and even how you treat the janitors, school secretary, and volunteers. Always take the attitude that you are serving, but keep your eyes and ears open to gather as much information as possible.

Your Professional Attitude
Remember to be courteous to the person who calls to schedule your interview. Be respectful in the emails you write to the Human Resources Secretary. Show how professional you are in how you treat others. Be kind and fully attentive toward those who are giving you information or interviewing you. Be nice to the school secretary; she’s your friend and can be your advocate if she is positively impressed by you. Smile when you are on the telephone. Keep a folder with all your essential information close at hand for those phone calls! You don’t want to have to say, “Oh, I can’t find which résumé I sent you” or “Did I really apply for that job?”

Always be positive. Always be enthusiastic. Always focus on what is best for the students. Be willing to collaborate. Desire to learn new things and new ways of doing things.

As an educator, you will spend considerable amounts of time working in teams. Read “Being an Effective Team Member” to learn how to develop the skills to help your teams be effective.

Your Attire
What should you wear? You want to look neat and reasonably conservative. No piercings (other than an earring or two per ear for women) or tattoos should show. No heavy make-up, expensive jewelry, overly short skirts, or overly high heels. Do not show too much skin.

Overall, a business suit is the most appropriate apparel for an interview. On both men and women, suits look professional and make a great impression. When you wear professional attire, you are telling an interviewer that you are serious about fitting into the school community. You want interviewers to notice you, not your clothing.

A woman’s suit should be conservative in color and style, the skirt knee-length or longer. Slacks are acceptable as long as they are tailored and match the suit jacket, and classic pumps look best with either choice. A conservative style extends to accessories also. Jewelry should be understated. For example, a small necklace and basic post earrings are preferable to multiple bracelets and large hoop earrings. You can carry a purse along with your portfolio; however, the less you have to carry, the easier it is to manage your load, shake hands with your interviewers, and even make notes while standing up.

Men: Men, you can’t go wrong with a conservative approach. A dark suit with a white or matching shirt and a conservative tie keeps the focus on you as a professional. Save those wacky ties for your students to enjoy once you’ve been hired. Avoid the blazer and khakis look—and, of course, carry your portfolio to the interview.

When attending job fairs and distributing copies of your résumé, it is appropriate for either sex to carry either a briefcase or attaché case. Remember to take a pencil or pen and paper to job fairs and interviews for taking notes. Save the tote bag for the classroom.

Go to the professionalism folder in the Job Search Academy on KDP Global to see examples of what to wear and what not to wear in the 2011 and 2012 Mt. Union KDP Fashion Shows.

Your Social Media
Have a professional e-mail address ( and voicemail message. Beware of what you have posted on Facebook® or Instagram® and do a Google search on your own name to see what appears. Pictures of you in a bikini on the beach sipping a cocktail or scantily clad quaffing a beer in a bar can do a lot of damage to your reputation and decrease an administrator’s desire to hire you. If you have posted complaints or rants on websites, even in the comments section, those things can come up on a search of your name. Edit or delete them if you can. If you can’t get rid of them, post again on that site with a more positive and mature attitude. In extreme cases, you may want to hire a professional webmaster to help you patch your damaged reputation on the web.

View these webcasts for more help on being professional:
Professionalism? What’s That? Presenting the Best You at All Times
Presenter Dr. Joseph Jerles, associate professor of education and former hiring administrator, shares how competence, performance, and conduct combine to enhance your chances of getting the job you want.

Digital Survival for Teachers: Keeping Your Life, Job, and Sanity while Using Social Media
Presenter Dr. Eric Combs, 2006 Ohio Teacher of the Year, shares the best and worst practices on social media sites; guidelines for displaying, saving, and forwarding photos, videos, and audio files; the best ways for teachers to use these technologies; how to know which things you post may be permanent and used against you; and best practices for protecting your reputation, career, and loved ones.

Read these articles for more ways to consider your professionalism:
The Three Rs of Professionalism
When teachers commit to three key values, professionalism improves.

Building on the Three Rs of Professionalism
The author discusses six crucial components to successful teaching.

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