These are two things we did used to have to say. Two subjects that used to be common sense. Things we assumed people knew.
Be punctual, and dress appropriately.
Ron Clark addresses these two important qualities in Move Your Bus, and I must agree. While we may have dismissed these so-called common sense qualities, they have become an issue in society. Many around us have disregarded their own images in a tradeoff with comfortable laziness.
Even so, whether you realize it or not, everyone you work with knows if you are consistently cutting your days short. It's one of those things that everyone notices, even though no one ever mentions it.
Those were special times.
Then Dad would drive himself across town to inspect fine parts to microscopic specifications, even measuring some of the smallest pieces to be delivered to NASA to be included on rockets and shuttles. Dad would arrive at work 15 to 30 minutes before he was required to clock in, at which time he also phoned Mom - every single day - to let her know he made it to work safely. If anyone asked why he would get there so early, Dad told them he allowed time for car trouble, flat tires, etc.
My dad believed that clocking in on time was his responsibility, not only to his company and to his supervisor, but to his family, as well. Even if he had car problems, icy roads, or traffic jams, he would arrive on time. I can't remember ever hearing that he was late. He was known for it.
That must be something my grandparents engrained in him. That tells me they must have trained him early on - when he was in their care at home, while he was a child. Grandpa must have left early every day for the glass plant in Ada, Oklahoma. Grandma must have arrived on time to teach her fourth grade class. And they must have made sure that their sons were on time to their classes.
While Ron Clark specifically addresses adult punctuality in the book, I think he would agree that this is a learned behavior. When it is modeled correctly, and explained appropriately, punctuality should become second nature for students.
That's also true of the manner in which we present ourselves. I like to be comfortable, but I also recognize the reason for dress codes - for both students and faculty. At the Ron Clark Academy, the men wear suits and ties every day.
I don't think people realize that everything you say or do is always better when you have on sharp attire. When you in a meeting and you give an idea, it seems smarter and more logical when you are neat, professional, and dressed to kill...
There are no dress-down days, because our performance is never dressed down.
In the same vein, the neatness of your environment means a lot to those around you. You may be completely fine with piles of paper on your desk, pictures taped to the wall, and piles of clutter, but keeping your space clean is also about contributing to a successful environment.
I watched a teacher receive the Golden Apple Award from the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce one year. While she was making her way to the dais to accept the award, pictures of her in her classroom were projected onto two large screens at either side of the banquet hall. The first thing I noticed was the mess behind her in the photos. All the pictures were of this lady in her classroom. Behind her desk. With cluttery clutter cluttering the shelves behind her and the desk before her. I could not believe this was an image she was OK with.
And I think those are the images that I remember because they made such a negative impact on me. Later, whenever I saw this teacher in the district for many years to follow, I never failed to conjure those same images of clutter to the front of my brain.
Certain images stick with us: that teacher who is chronically tardy to class, the teacher who shirks her duty for personal errands during the school day, the one who searches relentlessly for ways to dress down in the name of comfort, the one who wears her clothes too tight, his shirt wrinkled, her skirt too revealing, and the teacher who keeps a messy room.
Remembering that every action gets a reaction and that we are there for the purpose of teaching (modeling) proper behaviors for our students, let's step up our game just a little in response to this call to be more professional. They really aren't even the most difficult of Ron Clark's advice - as we shall see in the next reflection I write about his book, Move Your Bus. Stay tuned.