How to do it

7th September 2007 at 01:00
Use before and after photographs as a training aid so staff can assess the impact of body language in a school situation. Incorporate ways of reinforcing non-verbal communication training to improve staff awareness. Consider establishing in-house hairdressers who will encourage "enterprise" and staff needs. * Remind staff that we all have bad hair days but the less we have the better our teaching may become.

What not to wear

Teachers need to make a positive impression as soon as they walk into the classroom if they are to appear in charge, according to Tessa Hood, founder of image consultancy Changing Gear. To do that they must think carefully about their body language and clothes, which should both spell friendly authority.

"Teachers' clothes need to say: 'I'm in charge here'," she says. "They need to express a certain amount of gravitas but stop short of being frightening for the pupils."

The way clothes are worn is also important. A buttoned-up jacket accompanied by folded arms and a frown sends out a psychological message that you are not open to questions, Tessa says. Meanwhile, teachers who remove their jacket or cardigan in the classroom and perch on their desk close to the pupils will make themselves more approachable.

"To get the best reaction from pupils, teachers need to adopt a smart casual look that they feel comfortable in. Be contemporary without trying too hard to be trendy there is nothing worse than a 30-year-old trying to dress like a 14 year-old, and the pupils won't appreciate it either. They will expect their teacher to look comfortable, knowledgeable and in control, and a lot of that will depend on your appearance."

Colour me beautiful what colours mean Red: aggression, danger or warning (think the emergency services). Black: mournful or foreboding (think funeral). Green: calm (as in nature and often used in hospital wards). Blue: inspires confidence (cooling such as fresh air or the sea). Yellow: cheerful, inviting and comfortable (the reason why fish aimed at children is often covered in yellow breadcrumbs). Grey: drab or boring (the colour of old age).

Orange: enthusiasm and vibrancy (think beautiful sunrises or sunsets).

Purple: dignity and power (regal implications).

Style tips for men

Chinos, cords or smart grey slacks. Smart sports jacket or linen jacket. E Lightweight shirt without tie. Smart shirt with formal collar should be worn with tie to finish the look. No trainers or scruffy shoes.

Style tips for women Trouser suit, skirt below the knee or smart trousers. Shirt or blouse in colours that match your complexion. No very high heels. Jacket or cardigan. Avoid loud or oversized accessories that will distract pupils.

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