New Teacher who looks very young for her age

Discussion in 'New Teachers Archives' started by 1st-yr-teacher, Jun 3, 2006.

  1. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 15, 2006


    I say don't wait for the interview. Send a little "remember me" note to the principals, and mention how much you're looking forward to working after school with the kids, hopefully becoming involved in their drama production.

    Also, if you're thinking of middle school (I forget, sorry), you could think about getting the kids involved in competitive speech-- say Oral Interpretation (reading) & declamation (memorizing a speech.) I bet the 6-8th graders at KMHS would love it, and would love having someone to compete with.
     
  2. Leikela

    Leikela Companion

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    Jun 15, 2006

    I must be the exception to the rule because I wear scrunchies all the time. (Just call me old and way out of fashion then!) However, I'm still mistaken for 22 or 23 years old when I'm actually 30. I need scrunchies though because I have thick long hair and I work out on a daily basis and play softball so my only option to keep my hair from going all over the place are my scrunchies. I don't care how I look though, fashion or not. Bah! :D
     
  3. NYbound

    NYbound Rookie

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    Jun 16, 2006

    This past year was my first year of teaching (2nd grade) and when I was 21 I was asked if I wanted to buy a children's price movie ticket when with my mom or dad (which I think is 12 and under). I am now 23, and got my hair styled so I "look older".

    My advice is to dress professionally, never try to befriend students or parents, and be honest about your age. My students would be like "oh my mom is older than you" (which I WOULD HOPE!!!) and try to give me a hard time, but I would just be strict (the "look"/tone of voice) and have my act together during lessons and had firm expectations, and it seemed to work out.

    Another suggestion, don't let parents know you are a first year teacher, because that caused my first months to be uneasy, as they didn't trust me because of my age and experience, but things got better once they realized I was doing a good job. GOODLUCK!!!
     
  4. heart4kids

    heart4kids Rookie

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    Jun 21, 2006

    I also look very young for my age. I am 26 and have taught for 5 years. Every year kids and parents always ask how old I am and comment on how young I look. Don't let it bother you. Be confident! I have found that the issue goes away very quickly. My parents and students both soon find out that I mean business and want the best for their child. My experience with parents is as long as their child is happy, they are happy, not matter what your age is!
     
  5. baw0029

    baw0029 New Member

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    Jun 22, 2006

    It won't be a problem in the younger grades. All adults, no matter how young they look, are still adults and therefore old.

    I had a problem with my student teaching: I was 21 and teaching high school seniors, 17-18. The only thing you need to do is firstly dress properly, but more importantly walk into the room expecting to be treated like a respectable adult. Confidence and understanding inspires respect, so if you act like you know what you're doing (even if you DON'T!) kids won't have any less confidence or respect for you.

    Take it in stride! It's good to look young. Yes, you might get hit on in a joking matter, but if you can laugh at yourself and still re-direct back to the lesson, you'll do fine.
     
  6. lajones81

    lajones81 Rookie

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    Jul 2, 2006

    I'm also a young looking teacher! For "Meet the Teacher" day and Open House, I make sure to wear my heels! (I'm also fairly short, as well). I've been known to wear a nice pantsuit or dressy skirt, which I think helps me feel more confident, as well.

    One thing I have a problem with is parents calling me by my first name. I introduce myself by my first and last name throughout the year, but only identify myself by ms. (last name) throughout the remainder of the year. I address all parents as Mr. or Mrs. I've found this really helps me create some boundaries, as well.

    Good luck and have a great year! :)
     
  7. MissR

    MissR Comrade

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    Jul 2, 2006

    That's interesting. I work in a preschool right now so all of the children and adults call me by my first name and I use the first name of all parents. How many of you elementary teachers call parents by Mr. and Mrs. only? Do parents always call you by Mr. or Ms.?
     
  8. AZKinderTchr

    AZKinderTchr Comrade

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    Jul 2, 2006

    I have only had one issue with this -- I didn't really think I looked that young especially considering most of the parents of my students are younger than me! I had one mom and grandma come in to conference about a student who had alot of behavior issues. They proceeded to tell me they thought maybe he didn't listen to me because I am "so young." Good grief. He was 5 -- like he had any concept of me being young. Not to mention mom was only 22 and I am 30! Ugghh
     
  9. Peterson

    Peterson Rookie

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    Jul 3, 2006

    I just finished my first year of teaching and I am 25. I as well do not look 25 and have the same problem of people thinking I am younger. I thought that I would have parents being concerned because I look so young, but I didn't. As long as you are a good teacher and do your job, then nobody is even going to notice.:) It it makes you feel better, my first year was in a self-contained special education classroom. I was more concerned about having to do yearly staffings/IEP meetings and looking so young. There are a lot of other professionals in those meetings, but all went well. Good luck, I am sure you will be fine.
     
  10. shasha379

    shasha379 Devotee

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    Jul 3, 2006




    I can really relate. I started teaching when I was 24. Now I am 27 and I still don't look any older than I did when I first started. I agree with the others when they say dress more mature. For meet the teacher night, or any time I meet parents, I always try to where a dress or skirt(something below the knees). There are several young teachers in our build that dress as if they were going out for a night on the town(clubbing). Not a good example to set for our elementary students.
     
  11. shasha379

    shasha379 Devotee

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    Jul 3, 2006


    If I see the parent in a social setting I refer to their first names. At school I only use last names to keep it professional.
     
  12. zoerba

    zoerba Comrade

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    Jul 8, 2006

    I was incredibly worried about my age this last year during my student teaching. I am 23, but am only 5' tall and am frequently told I look like I could be in high school. It is quite frustrating. My mentor teacher was amazing, someone who taught me so much about teaching. However, he would refer to me as 'kid' and 'kiddo' all the time. I also felt like some of the parents didn't take me seriously. There were a few times when my students (2nd grade) made comments that I was a teenager, and I quite firmly explained how I differed. I was lucky, however, to have a very supportive and unbiased staff at my school. I think that if you act and dress professional as well as teach with fairness yet firmness, things will settle in.

    One thing I also noticed was my attitude. I am a smiley, upbeat, and happy person. Sometimes I think people confuse happiness with immaturity. I had to consciously tone it down. Any opinions out there on this?

    Chenille
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 8, 2006

    I think that competance will outweigh looks anytime!!

    Don't worry about what they think. When the kids come home loving your class, or anxious to show mom the story they read in class or whatever, any doubts will be gone!
     
  14. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Jul 8, 2006

    We have an excellent kg. teacher at my school. She is less than 5 feet tall and as petite as petite can be. She probably weights about 80 lbs. She could probably pass for a fifth grader or even a fourth grader. I really can't help smiling when she is discipling a student who is almost as tall as her and about 20 lbs heavier than her, but when she talks, they listen.

    She is very knowledgeable and confident in her abilities and I believe this helps her a lot in her parents getting by her size. When she walks down the hallway you can tell she is always on a mission :).
     
  15. teachandlearn

    teachandlearn New Member

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    Jul 8, 2006

    Definitely have been there!

    When I started teaching several years ago I had issues with "looking young." I had taught overseas for a couple of years before I started in a school system in the states. I started out in middle school. It was the first year I was married and unfortunately the administration wasn't very mature about the whole thing. The assistant principal (who couldn't have been more than 5-7 years older than me) was always bringing attention to the fact that "I looked like a teenager" and that it was my "first year" (to teach). (Technically it wasn't my first year. I taught for two years overseas where I learned so much, but I just stopped correcting everyone when they said that because defensiveness just doesn't help.) So my best advice to a young-looking new teacher is to be and dress professionally (like others have mentioned), realize that other staff/administration/parents may feel the right to disrespect you just because of your age REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU DO, and pack all the humility and patience you can in your teacher bag. :) I just tried to focus on my job and ignore the sometimes demeaning and sometimes just annoying comments. Treat others the way you want to be treated and you'll gain respect by all those who aren't just totally bent on being unprofessional and immature about a little factor like age. I tried to gain parents' perspective from family members and friends who DID have children since I didn't have children and I ended up getting lots of advice from parents who'd had kids with young teachers who went overboard on being defensive about their age...sometimes being overly harsh or trying to look too tough. Treat parents with respect even if they aren't treating you with respect and eventually they'll usually realize that you're an ally for their child they want to have. :) The introductory letter you send out at the beginning of the year can be helpful in showing a little of who you are professionally and how much you care about children. I always emphasize the partnership between home and school and how I'm looking forward to working together with them. I think 1st grade should be easier in this respect than middle school was. Have a great year and enjoy it!!

    Oh, and the "sweetie" thing bothers me,too! What is that about??? I'm in my 30s and still have teenage girls calling me sweetie. :confused: To me, it sounds demeaning. I only call children "sweetie." Very strange thing and I do think it's regional. :confused:
     
  16. 1st-yr-teacher

    1st-yr-teacher Comrade

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    Jul 8, 2006


    It really bothers me to have someone who is my age or younger call me "sweetie" or "hun".....and it is a regional response...

    I have had professors before tell the class to not call children "sweetie" because it is "demeaning"...which even though I don't like being called
    "sweetie" at my age, I never thought anything of it when I was a child....
     
  17. AMK

    AMK Aficionado

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    Jul 8, 2006

    I look young too for my age. When I 1st started teaching I was 21 and people were like are you 18? I had a parent from the school (not knowing who I was) ask what grade I was in. This past year I had a parent tell me "For looking so young you actually know what you are doing." I looked at her and said "I have been teaching for a few years now."
    Basically I have come to accept that I look young and I will appreciate it when I am older.
     
  18. bybluelake

    bybluelake Rookie

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    Jul 10, 2006

    For 1st grade, don't worry about it. Just dress conservative on parents night. I teach grades K-8, I'm 32 and have the same problem. I recently went to a casino and got carded- you have to be 18 to go to the casino in the state I was visiting. Enjoy looking young and keep on wearing that sun screen.
     
  19. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jul 12, 2006

    I've always been mistaken as someone younger than I am, yet in recent years, I've looked my age (though I'm 24).

    However, I dress professionally and pretty conservatively every day (skirts, pantsuits, nice slacks, nice khakis, decent necklines, closed toed shoes, except for Fridays when I wear jeans) and the parents respect me. I also have a very clear (not loud, but not "wimpy", either) speaking voice, so people know I am serious about my job. It's not just for one or two days of the year because parents can step in at any time and I have the desire for the students to look up to me as well.
     
  20. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    That's very difficult. It's normally staff that disrespects more than the parents or the administration. It's like other teachers think, "She's 24; how much can she REALLY know?". That throws me off because I am a capable, intelligent woman with strong classroom management, a lot of respect from my students, and neat ideas to enhance the curriculum.
     
  21. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    I had parents the same age as me in the past... 24. ;) Now that's a good one to grasp when you teach... fourth grade.
     
  22. Gia Lew

    Gia Lew Rookie

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    Jul 12, 2006

    I understand!

    Hello!
    I too am a first year teacher at 23 and get mistaken for a high school student all the time. The best advice I ever heard was to let parents know a couple things, whether it is communicated directly or indirectly: Let them know you care about their child very much and will do everything in your power to help them succeed. Also, that they are safe in your classroom. I know that one is weird, but parents care about two things when it comes to someone who is always with their "pride and joy." One, that you care about them (maybe almost as much as they do! :) and second, that you make sure they are safe. Not being a parent myself, I believe these are the best things to keep in mind for our first year!
     
  23. tinytchr

    tinytchr New Member

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    Jul 18, 2006

    It will be okay

     
  24. JustWondering

    JustWondering Companion

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    Jul 18, 2006

    My best friend calls everyone "hun". Some people when they feel comfortable around other people just call them by such pet names. I don't think they mean to do it to hurt feelings. I know sometimes I can't remember someones name I will do the same thing!
     
  25. ms_chandler

    ms_chandler Comrade

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    Jul 26, 2006

    Buy "teacher clothes" and wear glasses, particularly cute black teacher frames. I did student teaching when I had just (literally the day before) turned 22. I bought "teacher frame" glasses and had an entirely separate wardrobe.

    I am now 24, and I was just able to convince myself that I could wear jeans on "Jeans Day." By the way, I teach jr. high/high school, so my situation is a little different maybe.
     
  26. alan1erin

    alan1erin Rookie

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    Jul 26, 2006

    I too look younger than I am. I am starting first year of teaching, I have been a sub for four years and have had no problems. But I hadn't thought about parents, thanks for posting this. It gave me some good advice to and helped me be better prepared in case someone says something:) Have fun on your new job:):)
     
  27. MusicMaker

    MusicMaker Rookie

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    Jul 26, 2006

    I'm in the same boat. I'm turning 26 in a couple of weeks, but people comment how I look like I'm 18.

    I also get called by most people "sweetie" probably because my voice sounds young too.

    This will be to my advantage when I'm older, but I'm also worried about looking young and inexperienced to the parents.

    I'll prove them wrong, haha. :angel:
     
  28. CA5teach

    CA5teach Rookie

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    I also look younger than I am - my first few years of teaching, I always threw in an offhanded comment at back-to-school night about how "I'm older than I look!". I also dress very professionally and I think your confidence level and how you act will say more about you as a teacher to the parents than how old you look...(I would hope!)
     
  29. TeachBD

    TeachBD Rookie

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    Jul 26, 2006

    I am in an opposite boat--I went back to school after I had my family--my 4th year of teaching is this year, and I am closing in on 40, but look early 30's, yet I was carded a month ago at the grocery store!

    I appreciate people thinking I have the experience that traditionally goes with a teacher 'my age', but at times, it makes me question myself and my abilities. As a 4th year teacher, I am going to be a "mentor" teacher this year to a new teacher in our building--kinda scary--I'm still on my initial teaching certificate and am going to be a MENTOR teacher???!!!!! I'm glad my principal has confidence in me, but sometimes I wonder if I have really paid my teaching dues and earned it, or if my 'life dues' satisfied some of those requirements!

    Anyone else in this boat??
     
  30. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Jul 27, 2006

    I wouldn't shortchange yourself...certainly the skills you earned before your life as a teacher count and make you an even better teacher!
     
  31. srh

    srh Devotee

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    Jul 27, 2006

    Telemarketer calls: Almost always, you will notice a pause after you answer "hello." Once I figured that out, I started hanging up before any conversation starts. If it truly is a call from someone I know, it will ring again.

    On the "looks younger than she really is" theme, love it. When you have kids in their twenties or older, it is comical to see people try to figure out just how young you must have been.... :-D
     
  32. zoerba

    zoerba Comrade

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    Jul 27, 2006

    Hubby and I are going into town on Monday to buy a nice professional suit for me - incase I get called for any interviews! I want to look professional and confident as I am only 23. Let's hope I do get called!!!!!!! *keeping my fingers crossed*
     
  33. AustinLady

    AustinLady New Member

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    Aug 31, 2006

    I had trouble getting people to take me seriously until recently when I just plain got tired of it. I just graduated college at 20 and am about to start teaching. I could pass for a tall 14-year-old if I put no effort into getting ready.

    The other posters are right about dress. Depending on personal style, climate, and regional style, there should be a happy medium in order to incorporate those things to look professional. Some things that appear younger: faded jeans (like the ones from the juniors department), strappy tops, belly shirts (even a little belly when you raise your arms sends a bad signal), chunky shoes or flip-flops, and too much costume jewelry.

    Anyone who is confident in their appearence will come off as more mature, since with maturity comes confidence.

    We young ladies are eager to teach and learn, and with the right appearance, others will concentrate on your desires and abilities.

    Good luck!
     
  34. MissENJ

    MissENJ Rookie

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    Sep 2, 2006

    I am 25 and look about 16, so I can relate to all of you young looking new teachers! I am starting my first year teaching next week, and will be teaching 5 classes of Juniors. My students are all in Special Education, most with learning disabilities and some with behavioral problems. I did my student teaching with Freshmen and ended up having to file a discipline report on one student for inappropriate conduct (he tried to hug me in the hallway, and my cooperating teacher advised me that this warranted a report in case someone saw and took it the wrong way). The high school that I was at (and will be teaching at) does not give ID's to student teachers, so I had to go through security with the students. One of the Vice Principals (its a huge school...2500 students, 6 VPs), who didn't know me, asked me for my student ID one day!

    I am a bit worried about teaching 11th graders, because some of my students may be VERY close to my age (as old as 20, seniors can be 21). Although I won't tell my students my age, I know that they will never assume that I'm over 21!
     

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