20 year old

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by educate, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. educate

    educate Rookie

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    :blush:Hi.. i have been blessed to have completed my bachelors degree in two years i just turned 20 years old and i got hired pending graduation at the age of 19. I graduate on August 14 and begin school on the 18! One of the veteran teachers called me to answer any questions i might have... and the conversation led to her asking how old i was..(which i thought was quite rude because if the roles were reversed she wouldnt have found it too polite).... When i told her i was 20 her voice quickly changed from cheery and helpful to patronizing and condescending... i felt she had lost all respect for me because of my age... My question is.. am i going to have a harder time because of my age? should i lie??? should i just avoid the question??? would you see me as less if i was a new teacher in your school? sorry for the long story but i feel a bit discouraged by this attitude... I thought i should be proud of the fact that i have accomplished so much at such a young age.. i wasnt planning on boasting how old i was but still.. i didnt think it would count against me..... i guess in this career the younger you are the less experience you have.. :( :confused:
     
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  3. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    I wouldn't have a problem with it, but others do. I have def. felt ageism before. I look very young (I'm often overlooked in the classroom when working with the kids), and it can def. be a problem. Parents don't particularly like young people telling them what's best for their kids.
     
  4. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Are you going to have a hard time because of it? Yes. (I'm being honest here.)

    Should you lie about it? No. Lying is a not a good option.

    Should you avoid the question? At all costs!

    If you think that teacher was out-of-line, wait 'til you see how parents are going to react! We have a couple of 23 year old teachers, and some parents either want their kids moved out of those classes (because they assume someone so young couldn't be good) or the parents spend the entire year questioning the teacher's judgement -- often going to the principal over every little thing, and basically, making the new teacher feel as if she can do nothing right.

    Do I agree with this? Of course not. But it is reality. Be forwarned.

    There is some wisdom that comes from age. Being older than dirt, I know this! ;) However, there is much to be said for youthful enthusiasm!

    I wish you the best of luck!
     
  5. princessa48

    princessa48 Companion

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    Jul 22, 2008

    Be proud of your accomplishments. I think she may be concerned because the typical 20 year old would not be capable of handling the workload of a teacher. It is your duty to prove her wrong :)

    I've felt the burden of ageism before too, when people realize that I had my first son at 20. Don't let it get you down. Some 20 year olds are more responsible than some 30 year olds I know.

    Best of luck, and congratulations on your graduation and new job.
     
  6. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    I will have to agree with Rainstorm in regards to the reactions of some of the parents.
     
  7. Matt633

    Matt633 Comrade

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    educate---you are going to encounter some form of prejudice or another a lot in the professional world. Even though I am an older teacher....I realize everyone has to start somewhere and yes you should be proud of what you have accomplished.

    Here are a couple of hopefully helpful hints:

    Some teachers are encouragers and love to share and be helpful...you can talk to many right here on the forum....but be mindful if someone turns off (like the veteran you were speaking about) don't go to them for a lot of advice. Those individuals need to be shown that you are confident.

    Be sweet! (Kill 'em with kindness) Be humble! Don't try to share all of your knowledge (a mistake I made) (my first P gave me this list of things 1st year teachers shouldn't do) one of the items was talk to much! Do listen, try new things and find out for yourself what works.

    Because you cannot really use the statement "In my experience" use "In my professional opinion."

    Most of all, Hold your head up high...set your focus on your students and have a great first year!
     
  8. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Jul 22, 2008

    Go back to the good old saying "You never ask a lady her age". Tell them that and just smile!

    I must say you are lucky you got hired. I think our system has a minimum age limit. Especially if it is a high school position.
     
  9. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Our district won't hire under 21. It has something to do with the criminal background check and our health care benefits.
     
  10. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    First of all congratulations for such a wonderful accomplishment!!! Unfortunately as others have said, ageism is out there and in education, I feel like the more seasoned you look, the more respect you get. When I first began teaching, I had problems with this too. A fellow teacher gave me some really great advice that helped a lot. Dress and look professional at all times!!!!! This really does help!!! Sounds like a little thing but young teachers need to portray themselves as confident and professional (not that all others don't, but it really does help). Good luck to you!!! You'll be just fine. Just stay confident and show them just how good you really are!
     
  11. RainStorm

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    I agree with this.

    Many of our younger teachers dress too young -- and then wonder why parents don't treat them as professionals. I'm not talking about "dressing up" I'm talking about dressing a bit older to set yourself apart from the students. My version of dressing professionally is not wearing a business suit. It is wearing clothes you can work in without your body parts hanging out!

    I swear if I see one more young teacher wearing a low cut top with a push-up "peek-a-boo" bra, I'm going to scream! I don't want to see anyone I work with's boobs!

    And if they have a tattoo on their lower back, I don't want to know about it!!! So pull up those pants or get ones that come up to the waist!

    I know there are some who will disagree with me, but if you dress like a college student, don't expect people to treat you as a seasoned professional.

    I'm not implying that the original poster would do this -- I'm just making the comment! Little kids don't need to see so much skin!
     
  12. emmakate218

    emmakate218 Connoisseur

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    educate, I just wanted to say good luck and that you should always remember that you are qualified to teach. All I can say is to kill them with kindness and keep your head held up high (but don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it!). This is my plan. I'm 24 years old and about to go into my first year of teaching. I look like I'm 14 though! I am only 5' and I have a very young face. I am planning on getting a lot of "oh my goodness, you look so young!!!" when I meet the other teachers and when I meet my parents. Oh well, because I've gotten it my entire life thus far. Good luck!
     
  13. Ilovefirst

    Ilovefirst Comrade

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    I have to agree with what the others are saying. I was hired right out of college at the age of 21. I look young for my age - my little sister looks about 10 years older than me, and she's almost 5 years younger! This will be my 5th year teaching and I'm still getting, "Are you old enough to be a teacher?" I work with a woman who is in her late 50s who had only been teaching for about 8 years. I have had parents want their children moved to her room because she was a better teacher before they even met me. Most of the teachers I work with ignore age and treat me like any one else (I am still the "baby" on staff) but some just can't seem to get over it.

    I say Congrats to you for finishing 4 years in 2!

    I also agree with the advice of Matt633.
     
  14. Ghost

    Ghost Habitué

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    Congratulations on your wonderful accomplishment!!!!

    I agree with Rainstorm and advise you not to dress "hip" at school, but professionally.

    Some parents will react to you being young, but so will some students. Just stay professional and don't advertise your age. Whenever a kid asks me how old I am, I ask them how old they think I am and whatever they say is what I agree to (yes, I'm 100--feels like it sometimes--or 6 depending on who asks). It's no one's business.

    Feel proud of yourself and do the best job that you can do! Congrats again!
     
  15. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I started teaching when I was 21. I tried to dress a bit older for the first few years since I was mistaken for a junior high student every once in a while. It will all be okay- just be prepared, work hard, and dress the part.
     
  16. RainStorm

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    One of the teachers on my grade level is very young, and looks even younger. She also dresses young. She was mistaken for a 5th grader by a parent at 5th grade graduation!

    But I have to tell you -- yes, she looks young, but she is a fabulous teacher! And you better believe I tell parents that.
     
  17. Jem

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    This is true. I have horrible fashion sense, and one of the things I did in the last few years was wear fun knee socks in the winter with my skirts. I won't be doing that anymore after a much older teacher walked by and said very rudely and loudly 'I sometimes forget how young you are'. It made me angry, but she was probably right. I'm seeing a stylist in a few weeks, and I'm going to have her help me come up with a J Crew/Banana Republic meets Jackie O look. Perhaps that will help....
     
  18. dizzykates

    dizzykates Habitué

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    I started student teaching when I was 19 and I worked in a high school for summer school when I was 17 and 18. It is eye opening how young you really are, but that does not make you any less qualified. I at 25 and I am still the youngest teacher in the building. I was told to return to my seat in the lunch room by the ISS guy, then I turned around and said politely, "Excuse me?" and he was really sorry.

    Anyway, dress neatly, don't be afraid to learn and take some of the advice your co-workers give you. The parents may go over your head to the principal, I know I've had several who do that. I've had others refer to me as "honey", "dear", and reference the fact it's my first year teaching, at which point I always slip something in about a few years ago in my classroom...if they catch it, it shuts them up, if not then I at least feel better. The terms of "endearment" I ignore. That is just plain infuriating. And yes, I would avoid that subject at all costs, don't ask about others' ages and don't bring up your birthday. Don't talk to much about HS or College, but stay focused on where you are now.

    Beware, happy hour is a prevalent thing where I come from and if you aren't 21 here, your license is different. I didn't go out much with them, sometimes, but not often.
     
  19. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Now, I'm going to say this... and remember that I'm speaking from my own personal experience -- so take it for what it is worth.

    I remember being the youngest athletic director ever. I remember being the youngest city supervisor ever. I remember being the youngest superintendent the city had ever had. I remember supervising people in their 60's who had a lifetime experience, and I felt very awkward giving annual employee performance evaluations to people who had been doing their jobs for over 30 years -- especially when I had to tell them that something they were doing needed to be done differently.

    I remember going to citizen and homeowner association meetings to represent the city, and having senior citizens question my ability simply because of my age. I remember having to prove myself at every turn -- but I did (fairly quickly, actually) and had a very successful career. I won them over by doing what I said I'd do. I won them over by acting with integrity. I won them over with my enthusiasm.

    After I retired and decided to teach -- I made a conscious decision to be a teacher NOT an administrator. I have the credentials to be an administrator -- and I certainly have the experience.

    Now I work with LOTS of young teachers, and I can honestly tell you as I look back -- I know a lot more now. You never would have been able to convince me of it when I was younger, but I am wiser. I know a lot more about dealing with people. I was always people-savvy, but there are some things that just do come with experience -- with having done it, repeatedly, until you just get better at it.

    Just as some people judge a person because they are young, I have young teachers all the time who assume that because I'm older that I'm "not as enthusiastic" or as into learning new methods. They assume I'm "old school" (sit in rows, teach whole group, etc.). It couldn't be further from the truth.

    Many of the young people I work with are far too quick to express their opinion. They are far too eager to "howl "against the injustices of the world. Many of them speak without thinking -- and then are shocked to find out their words come with consequences.

    (Please notice, I said "many" .. not all.)

    It is human nature to "judge" people who are different. I can't change that, but being aware of it helps me to cope with it.

    To the OP I say, try not to take it personally if someone says you are too young. Just realize that we all have our preconceived notions. The best way to change someone's mind is to convince them through success, integrity, and friendship.
     
  20. kkuchtah

    kkuchtah Rookie

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    I also went through this - I graduated in 3 years and my b-day falls right around school starts - I was 20 when I was hired and the day before the kids came I turned 21 - I just finished my first year and can say it was an experience - I didn't give my age out till I was asked and I really could have cared less what people thought - my sister went up to the school with me, she is 3 years younger and most thought she was the newbie - Most of my parents really didn't ask until the end of the year - By the end of the school year all the teachers knew how old I was and it didn't change their respect for me - When compared to other first year teachers at my school I feel that I did the best job and I am always getting complements for my behavior and respect That I expect from my students. I also agree with dressing professional - I stuck mainly to capris or pants with polo's or a nice shirt but that is my style anyways. My advice would be do your best and if they ask let them know later on in the year when they bring it up. I also got my first job teaching 4th so I believe you will do great and show the older ones what you are made of :) just my :2cents:
     
  21. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    I have to agree with you Rainstorm! Just as not all young teachers are eager and enthusiastic, not all "mature" teachers have one foot in the grave. Thanks for speaking for us! And I know that I will now be more aware of my attitudes toward younger teachers.
     
  22. Teaching Grace

    Teaching Grace Connoisseur

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    Welcome to my world :) I graduated a year and a half before everyone else that I graduated high school with :) I am the youngest every where I go just about. Parents were never critical. I also have another teacher who is critical of everything that I do.
     
  23. teachpositive

    teachpositive Rookie

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    I am starting my fourth year and am 25 years old. Each year my students are fascinated with asking how old I am, and I always answer with something like "between 20 and 85" and change the subject (although most teachers are aware and some students "figure it out" each year and I never lie to them). I have also been careful to share with students that this is my 3rd (or whatever) year teaching this particular grade and subject which seems to help.

    Overall parents and other teahcers have been welcoming regardless of my age, but I believe it's because of my work ethic and enthusiam. (I certainly had to prove myself that first year.) Since then, I have been as equally respected and accepted as any other teacher. I agree with the suggestions to not talk too much and certainly ASK QUESTIONS! Figuring out teaching and/or management techniques with other teachers is always beneficial, but it also helps them get to know you as a person and a professional, not just "the new, young teacher."

    Hope this helps!
     
  24. DDragon08

    DDragon08 Rookie

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    From a parent point of view, my son had a young 1st year teacher for Kindergarten. She was 21. I knew this because I grew up with her brother. At first I was upset because I wanted my first child to have the most experienced teacher because she would be full of knowledge. I thought his K teacher would not be able to relate to him because she did not have any kids. Boy did she prove me wrong by the end of the year!!! SHE WAS WONDERFUL and KNOWLEDGEABLE!!! She was the best teacher that my son has had so far (he is now in 3rd grade). I was devastated when she left the school to teach at a school closer to her house. Since then, we still keep in touch and run into her within the community. I learned that you can't judge a book by its cover. There are many prejudice people out there that will make you want to cry for several different reasons (I'm sure you learned this in school). Don't let this teacher get you down. Just be yourself and give your students the best education that you can.
     
  25. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    There are certain threads on this forum that bug me and this is one.

    1. Unless there is some state law that stipulates that you must be at least 21 years of age to teach children, then it is illegal for a school or school district to even ask you your age.

    2. Things like "dressing too young" are issues that affect teachers of any age. Assuming that just because of a persons age, they are going to act a certain way is a mindset based on prejudice.
     
  26. alschoolteacher

    alschoolteacher Companion

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    I graduated college in 3 years and have a late birthday. I was several weeks into my first teaching job when I turned 21. The other teachers knew this because my high school physics teacher is the science teacher at my school now. Most of the teachers treated me with respect, but there were some who did not want to hear anything I had to say. I taught one Kindergartener (special education) and was pretty much a glorified aid that first year because the classroom teacher wouldn't let me do anything. When I moved to a classroom I had to prove myself all over again and once more when I move grade levels last year. Just do your best and act professional. Good luck!
     
  27. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    Congrats!
    Yes, you could face some problems.

    Under no circumstances would I tell your students your age - some may have brothers/sisters or aunts/uncles that are your age and they will view you as they view their relative and not give you the respect you deserve.

    I also would not tell your student's parents how old you are - it's none of their business.
     
  28. Deb06

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    I started teaching when I was 22, and I've dealt with similar situations. I am almost 25 now, and I've realized that as long as you're being the best you can be and always show enthusiasm about what you do, there is no need to worry about what others say. Also, someone else mentioned to ask questions to teachers who have been teaching for a long time. You can definitely learn a lot from them, and it shows you are willing to learn. Congrats on your awesome accomplishments! :)
     
  29. amelie77

    amelie77 Rookie

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    Another been there done that, but I just want to encourage you. Teaching your first year is challenging enough- try not to worry about how others perceive you and just do what you were hired to do. I have found that some of my best friends at school are older than my own parents. Veteran teachers have a lot to offer, as do new teachers with vibrant refreshing ideas. Hopefully you can all work together and they will appreciate your perspective. I do agree that dressing professionally at all times makes a difference, not only with staff, but with your students too. I am sure you are well aware of that fact. :) There will be those teachers who hold their nose a bit higher around you, but you know, just let them and don't let it get to you one bit. In time they will value you for your teaching skills. I was unfortunate my first year of teaching to come into a class with a school board members child who did not like the fact that I was so young (23 at the time) and she rode me hard all year long. She was so eager to point out anything she didn't agree that I was doing correctly. Turns out the next year, I was blessed to have her other child! :) Guess I wasn't so bad after all. You will do great! Just forget about it, and have fun. If this other teacher continues to be hurtful, then go talk to her about it in a calm manner and let her know that while you realize you are young and have plenty to learn, you also have a passion for teaching just as she does and that you would like to learn from her great ideas without feeling inferior. Compliments will get you far, and more than likely, she will be a bit embarrassed she came off that way if she is at all a decent person.
     
  30. hatima

    hatima Devotee

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    I've faced problems over my age. I'm 26, but look like I'm a teenager. I've had parents my age and YOUNGER have a problem with me teaching thier child because of my AGE! It is stupid. But our society has horrible problems associating age with ability.
    But don't lie. I have avoided telling people my age. I just say mid 20's. I do not lie well. I've been looking for a teaching job full time since I was 23.

    Rainstorm (love the name) I've seen many 40 something and older teachers wearing plunging necklines and push up bras. But I agree this is not acceptable dress.

    I tend to wear long skirts knee length or longer with a nice dress shirt. But I still get vibe of your too young and resentment from some NOT all, of my older counterparts.
     
  31. kidsandpups

    kidsandpups Companion

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    Regardless of how old you are, you will also have to deal with people making assumptions about you because it is your first year in that school (even if you have taught elsewhere.) I went through that this year. I even had a parent with the nerve to say "Now you wouldn't understand this because you're new, but ..." during a parent-teacher conference. You also will be in the shadow of whoever you're taking over for. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "Mrs. So and So did it this way." You just have to stand your ground. Know when to take the "advice" and when to politely ignore it. Don't worry, just make friends with someone who's been teaching there "forever" so you have an ally and can get help, advice, backup, etc. when you need it.
     
  32. educate

    educate Rookie

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    Wow. the responses have been, aside from numerous, very helpful. Thank you for all the advice. :)
     
  33. LMath85

    LMath85 Companion

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    Don't let it get to you. I heard it a few times during the year but I worked harder than most of the people saying it. I started when I was 22 and I just turned 23. EVERYONE has to start at some point and most people are fresh out of college - there is nothing you can do.

    I loved when a parent called my AP saying that her daughter was failing because of me. Cause I suppose I made her daughter score below 40% on more than half of her Math tests? I totally made her get a 34% on the final exam! Who knew!

    Towards the end I learned to laugh it off because you know what you are capable of...which is being a good teacher.


    edit... I just remember my parent-teacher conferences when parents realized how young I was. They were all very kind to me and I think they appreciated the fact that I could relate, in some way, to their kids.
     
  34. Lareigna

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    educate - I know how you feel! I am not anywhere 20 but I look the part. I had a lot of teachers look down to me because they thought I was very young and did not give me the same respect as they would older teachers. They thought I did not know much. I never told anyone my age, I don't think it is any of their business and has no affect on the way I teach.
    My first year (this is my second) I kept to myself and just concerned myself with what my job was and did not worry about what anyone else thought except for the administrators and my mentor. My mentor was amazing in helping me in any way she could and was always a source of positive thoughts and inspiration.
    The key is to surround yourself with kind and caring teachers, there are more of those than the others. Just worry about what you have to do.
    A postivie thing about being a young teacher is that you are very energetic, willing to learn, try new things, are very creative and flexible and it will probably be easier for the kids to relate to you (I found that to be true in my classes).
    Dont be hard on yourself, what she thinks should not matter to you. Just go and do what you have to do.

    Congrats, good luck and have fun!!!! :2up:

    Funny story - Had a parent meeting one day, the mom never met any of the teachers before. We introduced ourselves and the mom said to me, I thought you were older. I asked why, and she said from what her daughter said about me she thought I was an older teacher. This was because of my disclipine procedures, because of my high expectations for each student and because I made them work!! I took this as a compliment. :)
     
  35. 3littlemonkeys

    3littlemonkeys Comrade

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    Jul 23, 2008

    It's funny how many people can make judgments based on appearance. I'll be turning 30 in a few weeks, but I apparently look much younger. I am currently in a credential program and this past year was my first year as the classroom teacher at the school I work at--before I was an aide and co-teacher. So, parents put those "clues" together, take a look at me, and decide I must be in my early 20s. They then discover I have kids--three!--and the oldest is eight!--and I can just SEE them doing the math in their heads..."hmm, 23 minus 8=...no, that can't be right...25 minus 8, maybe? hmm. SHE'S had some past." Etc. Yes, I was young (21) when I had my oldest, but eek, not that young! Parents will usually follow up with "Wow, 3 kids? But you look so young!" and I just respond with "Yes, I have good genes." People may make judgments now, but I'll like it when I'm 60 and don't look it!
     
  36. teacherlissa

    teacherlissa Comrade

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    Jul 23, 2008

    uh..if you had the ability to finish school in 2 years...you throw your head back, hold your shoulders high, and show off your intelligence...i would announce to the world that yes, I am 20 years old and i finished school in 2 years...and walk through those halls with confidence...you earned it!!!
     
  37. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Jul 23, 2008

    I'm over 50, and my pushup bra is quite helpful. It's not my neckline that is plunging.


    Just say with a smile, and you can put a southern accent on it if you want, "Why, how nice that you ask, dear." And then walk away.
     
  38. lou reed

    lou reed Companion

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    Jul 23, 2008

    I started at 21. A few things helped...

    -document, and get a teacher older and more experienced to back you up if you need it. I had a parent who wanted her kid out of my class because some friend of hers gave him a ridiculously low score on a running record (she did a really jacked-up job on it - the sad thing was that she was supposedly a "reading specialist.") I had records with him on-level, and for safe measure, I had an experienced teacher and our reading specialist do running records as well - they gave him the same level as I did. She didn't question me after that.

    This may sound snobby, but it helps to slip a little bit of teacher specific jargon into your conversations with parents - not so much that you sound obnoxious, but enough that you sound knowledgeable and informed. They don't ask you what it means, because they don't want to look dumb. Psychological warfare. :)

    I like to dress a little bit punky, which honestly, I think makes a difference, haha. A little extra eyeliner and knee-high boots at parent teacher conferences helps. :) :)

    edit: if people ask my age, I tell them I'm 43. They get a weird look on their face but then they stop asking.
     
  39. TampaTeacher

    TampaTeacher Comrade

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    Jul 24, 2008

    She was pretty rude to ask your age, and then to try to make you feel bad - I mean, even if she was taken aback, she should have enough class to hide her opinion. I would be impressed by a young woman with enough drive and intelligence to graduate in 2 years! That's wonderful!

    Besides, there are plenty of people who earn 4-year degrees by 21 - maybe not me, but I know those folks exist. ;) 18-year-old freshmen could be 21-year-old seniors. What's the difference between 20 and 21, anyway?

    That said, I'd probably just try to avoid the question. Having just completed my first year teaching, I worried about having to tell parents that I was a newbie last year. Believe it or not, nobody ever asked.

    You could even hang your diploma in the classroom to remind parents that you are an educated, qualified professional.
     
  40. CBean

    CBean Rookie

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    Jul 24, 2008

    20 - keep it to yourself

    I started teaching 5th graders at age 21 and I didn't want anyone to know how old I was. I kept it to myself for the most part until my students had a surprise birthday celebration for me in January. When the principal asked how old I was, I felt more confident being able to say,"22." He laughed, told me to stop kidding, and asked again. When he realized I was serious he actually seemed to have more respect for me because I had already earned my rep. as a teacher. And at that point, it was too late to start wondering if I was 'old enough' to handle the responsibility. So my advice is, just keep it to yourself, if you go out w/ coworkers to happy hour, just say you don't drink or don't feel like a drink today. If asked, you can always play coy like a woman who doesn't like to share her age. Good luck!
     
  41. educate

    educate Rookie

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    Jul 24, 2008

    Thank you all :) .. i needed the reassurance
     

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