In what ways are younger teachers treated differently than older teachers?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by riverdance85, Apr 12, 2013.

  1. riverdance85

    riverdance85 Rookie

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    Apr 12, 2013

    Do HS students tend to talk back more at younger teachers than older ones? I am a young teacher (also beginning to grope classroom management skills), and I feel that students tend to talk back at me until I tell them to stop (and it works most of the time). However, I remember that back when I was a student teacher a few years ago (in another school district), the students did not talk back to my cooperating teacher, who was middle aged.

    Also, I don't remember too much about kids back-talking to my old HS teachers from when I was a student a little over ten years ago. Then again, I behaved and so I didn't really pay attention to the bad stuff too much.

    Thoughts? Is it me? Is it the difference in school districts?

    I teach HS Spanish.

    Gracias
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 12, 2013

    I don't think it's age as much as its a teachers management skills.
     
  4. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I think it does make a bit of difference. Teaching is my second career. While the life experience and wisdom probably helped with my classroom management, I did not have nearly the issues with disrespect my first year teaching that young teachers did.

    Even during hall duty, where there were students that did not know either of us, I would get more respect automatically than the 23 year old fresh out of college.
     
  5. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I think this as well.
     
  6. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I think kids always want to test a new teacher. I had a few minor issues at the start of the school year and I handled them and I haven't had any problems since.
     
  7. Croissant

    Croissant Comrade

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    No, I think it makes a difference. As a young teacher who looks young I feel like I have to work doubly hard on management. I don't get the automatic respect or fear that is an instinctive response to older teachers. I agree that it can be offset by really strong management, but I think it's unfair to automatically assume that a young teacher who is disrespected must have poor classroom management.

    It doesn't help when the older teachers treat young teachers differently in front of the students. I know they mean well, but I feel like every princess, sweetheart, and honey automatically diminishes my authority over the students.
     
  8. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Apr 12, 2013

    I've only subbed in HS, but I found it to be easy with the upperclassmen. I could relate to them. However, as mentioned previously, classroom management has the biggest effect.
     
  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Apr 13, 2013

    I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the power of a first-impression.

    Young teachers unfortunately have very little way to hide their youth. Students can and WILL test a young teacher or a new teacher much more often regardless of their management skills AT FIRST.

    It is definitely more of a struggle to build that foundation of respect that is important for teachers to have. My older colleagues have had to deal with much less testing and getting respect is much easier for them, regardless of their management skills.

    New teachers that I know that are far less practiced in management skills but have the benefit of looking older and more professional are afforded a bit more respect.

    Now of course, as I stated, this is merely a skin-deep assessment by students. If a teacher really means business, the students will eventually catch on, even if it takes a little more firmness than they are comfortable with. If an older looking teacher does NOT have the management skills, their room will quickly fall into chaos.

    But lets face it, if you have the management skills and you appear older, you will have it a lot easier than if you have the management skills and you look younger.
     
  10. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

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    Apr 13, 2013

    I've flat out had kids tell me that they thought I would be an "easy, nice" teacher because I look young.

    They were disappointed when they found out I wasn't. :)

    So yes, kids expect young teachers to be more lax, probably because most young teachers are new and ARE more lax.
     
  11. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Apr 13, 2013

    What Cza wrote.
     
  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Apr 13, 2013

    I don't think it's age, it's your presence and your classroom management skills.
    If you seem calm, confident and in control, it doesn't matter if you're 22 or 98. I've seen teachers of all ages with varying results. I've seen a TA who was maybe late 20s, but looked like early 20s, he had such a calm presence, that as soon as he appeared kids would be quiet and listening. He was also very observent, he would catch the smallest things the student would be trying to do.

    Your classroom skills play a huge role.

    Another thing I realized, is that kids would often size you up based on your position: they treat (or try to treat) subs poorly because they think they're not real teachers, they're nobodies. When I was student teaching they looked at me that I was worse than a sub, because I didn't even get paid. That was hard to combat, I had to really rely on skills and presence.
    They loook at 1st year teachers as rookies.

    So now when i started my first teaching job, a few of them asked me if this was my first year teaching. I said no, I've worked at a lock up for 2 years! I saw some of them humming / facial expression of "oh, ok", kinda like, 'ok, I guess you know what you're doing'.
    I wasn't lying, I did have my own classroom for almost the entire school year.
    The other new teacher they hired in the beginning of the school year the kids called 'the rookie' and really tried to give him a hard time. He said things didn't get better until a few months. I wasn't going to make the same mistake.

    I think I look much younger than I am, kids say I look like I'm in my late 20s (aren't they sweet, haha, ) so I take every opportunity to tell them I'm almost 40! (I think I could pass for early 30s on my good days, but that's it) This is the only time I'm bragging about how 'old' I am, lol.
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 13, 2013

    Unfortunately, not all teacher Ed programs do a good job of teaching behavior and classroom mgt skills. Young or old, if a teacher does not have good management, learning is compromised, students lose resect, families and administration lose confidence.
     
  14. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I think kids do react differently to teachers of different ages, but it can go both ways. I'm 25 and could easily pass for 20. One of my teammates is 55. Kids automatically assume she's mean and don't want to be in her class. Meanwhile they all want to be in mine because they just assume I'm a nice teacher. We switch for science/social studies and when I read the list of kids who would be doing to her class they were all horrified and begged me not to make them go. So in a nutshell I think kids are intimidated by her, but really don't respect her, at least at first. I think I get more respect from them as a younger teacher.
     
  15. Ms.SLS

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    I think it's more a matter of assumptions than anything.
     
  16. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Apr 13, 2013

    This is actually the type of teaching style I have right now, and I am early 20s, but I've been told I look 17-18. :lol:

    But someone entering my classroom at this time of the year would look and think "See, it doesn't matter about age, just management skills." But they wouldn't have known the struggles I had to go through earlier in the year to get here. Part of it was my inexperience, but I think part of it was definitely the first impression of age that students got. I fully expect that next year I will get to this point much earlier in the year.

    And yes it is an assumption, and a face-value judgment by students, but that doesn't mean that it still doesn't affect your classroom or your teaching.

    I think on average, if there were two teachers with similar management skills but differences in age, it would take the younger teacher at least a quarter of the time more than the older teacher to gain the respect of his classroom.

    On the other side of the coin, it probably takes the younger teacher half the time to build relationships with the students than the older teacher. So there are pros and cons.
     
  17. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Of course...my teammate is one of my closest friends and is a perfectly nice lady. I'm just saying the assumptions students make do affect their attitudes and the level of respect they give. Younger kids especially tend to like young looking people.
     
  18. teach42

    teach42 Comrade

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    Apr 13, 2013

    Age definitely has an effect on the assumptions your students make about you. I've been told I look 12. Subs and other personnel who walk into my classroom can't figure out who the teacher is because they think I'm one of the students.

    I think students always test new teachers though regardless of who you are but older teachers get more respect. In the long run though, it's the ones who have classroom management skills that survive.
     
  19. Mr.history

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    I agree that age can have an affect on how students perceive you, especially high school juniors/seniors. I think it was less of an issue when I was teaching middle school.

    I'm 23 but I probably look 18-19. To mitigate this I always wore a shirt and tie but I also grew my beard out(something I hate doing) because it makes me look significantly older. I kind of just clicked with the classes I was teaching so I didn't feel like I had to manage anything beyond keeping the students engaged. I do feel like the way I presented myself helped significantly.
     
  20. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    :thumb:

    One year I started the year with a student teacher who was my age. Her management left a lot to be desired. Still does.

    I started teaching seniors at 22, and I had few problems. It was due to inexperience, not age. My student teacher this year is young. She kept wanting to know why I had such better management even when she did exactly what we talked about. Her university supervisor said it was that they know I mean business. I established it early, and they've heard from others that I mean what I say and won't make idle threats.
     
  21. BookButterfly

    BookButterfly Rookie

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    Apr 14, 2013

    If you're struggling with back talk, you could try Fred Jones' book, Tools for Teaching. It has a chapter on silencing that--with the first strategy being, "open your mouth and slit your throat," meaning that if you say ANYTHING back to it, you're inviting dialogue.

    I'm in my first year, look approximately 18, and don't have many problems with back talk. 1) I never speak in response; students know what they're supposed to be doing. They run out of steam quickly if you simply look at them with a look of "withering boredum" (another Fred Jones technique). 2) If there is a back talk issue that needs to be addressed, I ask students to step outside.

    These have helped!

    As for older teachers, well... kids respond differently to them, but that doesn't mean there's nothing you can do!
     
  22. Cme10

    Cme10 Rookie

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    I am 27, and I find I substitute a lot, nearly every day for different classes. I work in the guidance office and I tell them right off the bat, "I have two degrees in teaching and several certifications, I also work in the guidance office working with student files." I tell them right from the beginning how it is going to be and what behaviors will be tolerated and what will earn them a one one ticket to detention or worse. I have perfected "The Look" that makes a high schooler cringe at 20 paces. Now don't get me wrong I have had some students who flat out disrespected me. But these students had a problem with authority in general, and usually ended up being sent to other schools for their discipline problems, so it wasn't my management skills, as much as their complete lack of caring about how they acted, to anyone.

    Now because I am young I have had problems with students wanting to "hang out with me" at lunch or at community, where as older teachers don't have this problem. I still like some of the same music and do some of the same things, (mall, playing music, exc) so they find they can talk to me. Unfortunately this puts me in a weird position because some things I hear I am obligated to report and some students are aware of this. I think it is an uphill battle for most younger teachers. You are constantly battling students who want to test you, as well as proving yourself to older staff and administration. So I feel like you do have to work twice as hard which is why first year teachers are more likely to leave the profession.
     
  23. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I went to our school's talent show last night, and after the show I met another teachers' significant other. Now I had attended the show with my neighbor teacher in the next classroom, and he is quite a bit older than me. Anyway, apparently the significant other had mentioned to her husband that "It's so nice that Mr. (my next door teacher) brought his son to the show..."

    *facepalm* I was even dressed up in my dress shirt and everything. Apparently the next door teacher does have a son, but even his son is 5 years OLDER than me.

    I feel like I'm the youngest person to ever teach sometimes. It's hard to remember that some people used to begin teaching when they were 16 in the past.
     
  24. Math

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    I'm not saying that it is not management skills. However, the students will make their own decisions regardless of what they are told. Don't you agree?
     
  25. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    Apr 28, 2013

    I've seen it both ways.

    I'm 34 but I look like I'm in my mid 20s. A few years back, I was teaching at a large high school in a very specialized department. Only about a third of the students would have known who I was. One day, we had a fund-raiser in the morning that involved teachers going into a dunk tank. I participated and afterwards, I changed into a sweatshirt and jeans and pulled my hair back (as most teachers who participated did). Well, that afternoon I was on my way to a meeting, carrying a binder and a pen and ran into a group of students I didn't know. They were just talking, but the profanity they were using was extreme. I asked them to please stop and they looked at me like I had a million heads and then started at me. They assumed I was a nerdy student who was being a buzz-kill. It was only when I told them they could address me as Mme Shanoo and if they didn't start showing respect, I would drag them down to the principal so fast their heads would spin did they get it.

    At the same time, my neighbour teacher and I teach the same group of Grade 7 kids. He is in his late forties. He has a MUCH harder time with classroom management than I do. Even with other factors (he's a career changer with only about 4 years under his belt), I see these kids responding differently to him than with me. They can't seem to make a connection with him. They have a hard time relating to him.
     
  26. Jerseygirlteach

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    I honestly don't think age has much to do with it and I'll tell you why. I had a whole other career before teaching. I left my other career when I had my kids and then I was a SAHM. When my kids started school, I started subbing. At that point, I was well into my 30s. I'll join everyone else here and say that I looked younger - lol - but I definitely looked like a grown up. I had a lot of trouble with classroom management the first few weeks of subbing. Believe me, none of the kids looked at me at my advanced age of mid-30s and said "There's someone I have to automatically respect and obey." The district used to call me to sub nearly every day so I got lots of experience and after a couple of months, I magically seemed to command that immediate respect. Yes, I did get a couple of months older but I also got better and that's what made the difference.

    I'll tell another quick story. When I was student teaching, there was a class next to mine where the teacher was out for the day and a sub was in there. She was probably in her 50s or 60s. The kids were like wild animals. One of the paras (she was in her mid 20s) came in to calm them down. They responded to her immediately due to her skill with them. It had nothing to do with age. She knew what she was doing and they responded.

    I think it might seem like younger teachers have more trouble because of their age, but I really think it comes down to their experience.
     
  27. Mathemagician

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    Students will make their own decisions, but it's up to the teacher to decide how to respond to those decisions.
     
  28. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I don't like to point this out, because it feels kind of rude, but it seems like the majority of people who feel age plays no factor in it tend to be those who entered the career at a later age and are older, or those who entered young, but in a time period during which students had a lot more automatic respect for adults.

    I agree yes, there is today, a LOT less automatic respect for adults in today's youth. And many of you point to a young teacher who has had great management. But I've talked to these young teachers who have great management, and they all say the same thing. It's tougher when you look younger. I don't think any one of them would state that their age wasn't a barrier (even if it was a small one) to maintaining classroom control.

    Those of us who are young teachers today, have felt the same thing. So yes, management is a HUUUGE piece of it. Undoubtedly the most important piece, but I don't think one can say that having a young age doesn't present a challenge at all to a teacher.
     
  29. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    Peregrin5 - it's just one of those things that no one can really relate to unless they've experienced it. I have no way of knowing if being in my 20s would help with classroom management and you have no way of knowing if it would be any easier for you if you were, in fact, older.

    That being said, I'm sure if it is an issue, it's more so with older students than younger ones.
     
  30. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Apr 29, 2013

    I agree with many others who feel that this is fundamentally a management issue rather than an age issue.

    Many factors can come into play with first impressions: not only age, but also gender, race, style, etc. Only a few of those factors are within the control of the teacher. It's up to the teacher to have strong management skills in order to establish a presence that works in conjunction with (or perhaps in spite of) the students' preconceived notions. This isn't always easy, even for seasoned teachers, and it depends a lot on school climate and the mix of student personalities.
     
  31. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    May 2, 2013

    I wanted to mention an experience I had the other day kind of in the same line of thought, but it's how teachers are treated by parents if they're younger.

    I don't know who injected this idea into the heads of parents, but someone's been going around telling parents that young, hip teachers are better and will cause their student to do better in school.

    A parent came to visit the classroom during instruction and we had a quick conference before class. He mentioned that he thought his student would do better this year in science because I was young and new, had fresh ideas, etc.

    Unfortunately, none of that is a remedy for a student who simply doesn't do work. Everything I've learned has told me that experience can beat out youth and vibrancy 9 times out of 10.

    I've also had parents who are active in the High School Charter tell me that I need to come work for their charter school because I'm young and active and fun. Yes I try to be fun, but especially at the High School level, learning should be prioritized.

    Yes, I try out new things. And I frequently find out what other teachers already know. They don't work.

    That's not to say innovation is bad, but I don't understand why it's something that is only attributed to young teachers. The experienced teachers in my school who are all older than me by about 20-30 years, are constantly talking to each other about what they're changing, and new techniques to try, etc. None of them are stagnant (one of the reasons I love my school).

    I don't feel age is a good indicator of much else than experience, and even in that case, it may not be a good indicator because some teachers join the profession late in life.
     

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