This blog was originally intended to be a fashion blog for academics. Somewhere along the way, I went off on a massive rant about mental health. I know that some of you have come to this blog searching on advice on what to wear for that important presentation, and have left disappointed. Apologies, I’ll rectify this right away!
Welcome to Researchic post #1 on why a lab coat is the ultimate fashion accessory. From time to time, I do some work as a teaching assistant in undergraduate Biology lab classes. I have often been approached by prospective teaching assistants who ask me “Jessica, what should I wear when I am teaching?” (Note: this may be an exaggeration). When deciding what to wear for your first teaching session, there are some important questions that you must ask yourself:
Do I want to be friends with my students and go to the pub with them?
Do I want to date my students?
If the answer to both of these questions is no (which is should be!), then I have an important piece of wisdom to confer to you.
Nobody will notice what you are wearing!
Unless you wear something truly mad or are very smelly, you will remain almost entirely invisible to your students. Throughout my 3 years of teaching experience, I have come to realise this sad truth. Invariably, the students I interact with will forget my name within the first 5 minutes of class and resort to calling me “HOY, MISS!” I exist as a faceless bringer of assistance and understanding, equipped with a limitless supply of spare lab books and pipette tips.
Now that you are free from the worry of what your students will think about you, you can wear anything you like! It’s best to wear something comfortable that makes you happy. My strawberry necklace makes me very happy, so I wear it a lot. Comfortable shoes are a must. You’ll cover a surprising distance walking between students!
If at all possible, accessorise your outfit with a lab coat. Lab coats are wonderful. They make you look sciencey, they swish out behind you when you walk round corners, they have deep pockets for storing your pointing pen, phone and answer sheet, plus you can put your hands in them and look nonchalant. If you happen to turn up for class wearing the same outfit as one of your students, a lab coat can disguise it (this actually happened). Lab coats should be worn open and with the sleeves rolled up as far as possible in order to display your outfit.
Here’s another picture of my necklace, because I like it so much. Wear whatever you want, safe in the knowledge that you are effectively invisible, get out there and bring some learning, yo. Happy teaching!