How to respond when a parent says this?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Swetha, Jul 20, 2013.

  1. Swetha

    Swetha Rookie

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    Jul 20, 2013

    I am a rising sophomore in college and I just finished a summer internship at a literacy camp for 6th-9th graders. I had a good time with the kids, and things went well over all. I definitely learned a lot about teaching and leadership.

    However, I look very young. I'm only about 5'1 and I have a baby face. Meeting the parents was awful because every time they visited, I would get comments like "I thought you were one of the kids!" Yesterday, a parent asked how old I was, and I said I was 18. She looked shocked and said "I thought you were 12!" I was mortified, so I just walked away. However, this hasn't really been a problem with the kids since they knew who I was. Does anyone have advice on how to respond to parents like this?
     
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  3. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I got a lot of those comments when I first started teaching. Just smile and say something cute, like "Thank you! Let's hope I still look younger than i really am when I hit 50!"
     
  4. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Yeah, you gotta let it slide right off.
     
  5. 1st-yr-teacher

    1st-yr-teacher Comrade

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    When I was hired for my first job, I hadn't met the second assistant principal. My literacy coach was going over some things with me when he walked by and she introduced me to him. He thought I was a high schooler...and I was 25 years old! Lol. You will just have to let that stuff slide and remind yourself it will be nice later on in life.
     
  6. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    I'm 29 and still look really young. It also doesn't help that my students go up to age 22.
    You just have to let it roll off. I now know when it's a parent or community day, I need to wear a staff shirt!
     
  7. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    I would have responded, "Well! I'll take that as a compliment! Stress-free and a LOT of laughter can makes YOU too, look young like me!":cool:
    Rebel1
     
  8. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I was very young looking in my late teens and early 20s. Too bad that attribute didn't stick around! LOL

    I would just make a joke about how you hope when you are 60 people are still thinking you look young.

    You are working with kids that are in the same age range as you appear. It can be shocking to find out that someone you thought was a student is actually the teacher.

    If this is the worst comment you ever get, be happy. I suggest not looking for things to be offended about because it will lead to a very unhappy career:)
     
  9. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I assume you appear professional and appropriate. You could answer, "Thanks. One day I'll really appreciate it, I'm sure."
     
  10. Swetha

    Swetha Rookie

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    Yup--especially when the parents came I was dressed up just like the other interns and teachers were.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I don't think you need to make a big deal about it. Most of the suggestions here have been good.

    Funny story: My sister just flew out here for a short visit. She looks very young. On the plane, a little kid was sitting in the row in front of her. A flight attendant came over and gave the kid those little plastic wings. She turned to my sister and said, "And how old are you, sweetie?" My sister said, "I'm 27." The flight attendant just walked away without saying anything. This sort of thing happens constantly to my sister; she's always being handed a kid menu at restaurants, etc. She just lets it roll off her back. There's no point getting worked up over it, since she can't change it.
     
  12. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    If it's any consolation, I'm 28 and this past fall I interned in 6th grade (I was 27 at the time). The lunch ladies though I was a middle schooler. I was like WHAT???????? I look young for my age, but I don't look 11. In January I transitioned from the internship to a teaching position at the same school, and there were new lunch ladies around the same time. Incidentally, I also starting showing (I'm pregnant) shortly thereafter. I was always so worried that those ladies would think I was a pregnant 12 year old! LOL.
     
  13. TnKinder

    TnKinder Companion

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    Looking Young

    You should let it role off your back and just be happy knowing that your are not aging quickly. I knew a girl in college who looked much older because she did not take care of her skin.
    Funny story. As a junior I observed in a middle school. After two classes I was leaving the building when the AP class from behind. "Hey where do you think your going, get to the office now." He thought I was trying to cut class. I turned and showed him my id that showed I was a college student in the building observing classes. He then told me that I looked like a 6th grader and I needed to not where a pony tail in my hair as it made me look like a kid. Mind you I was professionally dressed, but I did have a backpack. :lol:
     
  14. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I start every Back to School by saying I've been teaching for 10 years, yes, I started teaching when I was 8.

    That pretty much takes care of it. I've always looked young. It doesn't bother me in the least.
     
  15. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    That was absolutely me when I was 18 and was starting my fieldwork. Now that I'm 41, I'm usually mistaken for about 15 years younger. As you move into your fieldwork, it will be how you carry yourself more than how you look that will count.
     
  16. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    The assistant principal once scolded me for being in the hallway multiple times during class time. I was on my planning time running errands. He thought I was a kid out of class. Even better, it was my SECOND year at the school.

    I don't look particularly young, but I don't necessarily look my age. At open house I had a parent say, "You're another of those new teachers, aren't you?" I told her I wasn't. In fact, I was on year 15, I believe. She gasped and said that I had a nice, organized room and looked young. Ha!
     
  17. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Do you need to tell them your age? Seems to me that is an inappropriate question for a parent to ask...
     
  18. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    When I was about 20, I started working at a local high school in their special education program. Nearly every day, I was mistaken for a student at least once a day, despite me carrying a very loud police radio on my waist (I worked in a pretty tough program in a pretty tough neighborhood). With many people, it was just funny... they handled it well, and I handled it well, and we just laughed. Students were not allowed to wear sunglasses at school, and I always wear sunglasses when I step outside. The school security and school police often stopped me to have me remove my glasses. After a while, I could see that they were never sure if I was THAT teacher, or a student wearing glasses on campus. We often joked when they asked me for a hall pass and I held up my glasses. I never took any offense at it... it was funny.

    Then there were the others. We had assigned parking, and I never saw my parking neighbor, until the day I pulled in as she was exiting her car. She saw me, stood in my spot and yelled at me to go park in the student lot. I tried to tell her that this was my spot (as it had been for over a year), and that I wasn't a student. She just yelled at me, pointed at the student lot, and refused to move. As I tried to plead my case through my laughter, she suddenly just sneered at me and walked away. Never bothered to talk to me, never bothered to apologize, just walked away as if I wasn't ever there. I had another teacher yell at me during an assembly to sit down with the other students. I responded with a polite, "Excuse me?" as if I didn't hear her. She responded with a stern "Sit down" and pointed directly to the student seating. I politely apologized, smiled, and explained that I wasn't a student, that I was staff and was monitoring a few of my students from afar. She responded with no apology, no smile, just returned to her crossword puzzle in silence. These experiences, and others, really influenced how I treated students in my career. I was sometimes appalled at how teachers would talk to their students (or people who they thought were students). It was very eye-opening for me. I promised myself years ago that if I ever became "that teacher," I would just move on. I'm still in the field 20 years later.

    Now the best "mistaken for a student" story occurred at that same high school. I was walking in the lot past the auto shop, and came across three kids smoking pot out of a home made bong in a far end of the shop. As I walked past them, they stopped me, giggling, and asking me if I wanted a hit. I looked at them, said..uhhh, no!" and pulled out my radio and called it in to the police in front of them before I ever took another step. They saw me call it in in front of them. I then walked away and returned to my classroom. I heard over the radio that they were caught by the police a few minutes later, still standing in the same spot, still with the stuff in their hands. Didn't even have enough sense to run and hide. Silly, foolish kids.
     
  19. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    I also got mistaken for a junior high student by a cafeteria worker when I was student teaching. I was 21 and really didn't look that young.
     
  20. Rainbowbird

    Rainbowbird Groupie

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    These stories are so hilarious! And insightful. I agree with letting it roll off. I remember being a young teacher and having all the parents be so much older than me, and feeling like they didn't respect me. And having a principal who really thought anyone under 30 couldn't possibly have a good idea. But now that I am 46, I still look 35 at the most..it does have benefits later on in life if you wear your sunscreen!
     
  21. mkbren88

    mkbren88 Cohort

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    I was new to my school last year. After fall break, I dyed my hair dark and chopped it off. One of the teachers (a LTS) sat down at a table with me and asked who I was. She thought I was a high schooler (we were at a PD in our elem. school). I was 27 at the time. I'm tall but my face looks very young I guess.

    I still get ID'd to buy certain movies, medicines, spray paint and of course alcohol.
     
  22. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I literally get told that EVERY single time I meet with a parent. I mean I look young but not going enough to be one of my own students plus I dress in a shirt and tie with slacks and leather shoes. I would be one well dressed 8th grader.

    I don't think they literally mean it. They're just saying it because they think it's novel and you will find it amusing. They don't know that EVERYONE says it. I just tell them. "Oh yeah, I get that all the time. No literally... ALL the time."
     
  23. vivalavida

    vivalavida Companion

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    How would you respond to this if you WERE a new teacher? I feel like I have heard that it's better that your students and their parents don't know it is your first year.
     
  24. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I still get that every now and then, but not as much as I did during my first few years in the classroom. I actually miss people telling me that all the time! :whistle:
     

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