The Curse Of Looking Young

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by Jenni, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. mnteacherguy

    mnteacherguy Companion

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    Aug 22, 2006

    As a male teacher I've found just being young you are instantly the "cool" teacher. I work in a building with mostly older, AWESOME teachers who are great mentors. Just by my age I am able to relate to the students much more, however, the difficultly with this is establishing those student-teacher boundries. Just make sure the students know YOU are not THEIR friend, but their teacher. For young male teachers, it helps to throw on a shirt and tie....just something about a tie that commands respect
     
  2. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    Aug 27, 2006

    Yes, dress and act like an adult. Other young teachers at school wear flipflops and little skirts with shirts that barely reach the top of the skirt (and this is high school . . . hello hot for teacher fantasies!).

    My only experience of being mistaken for a student was my first year when I taught middle school (how could I look 12???). The lunch lady told me to get at the back of the line when I went up to the front like teachers were supposed to.

    But in high school, strangely, I haven't had any problems. Also, on Fridays when we can sometimes wear jeans, a lot of the young female teachers wear their going-out jeans. I bought a pair of obviously uncool, loose-fitting jeans to wear on those days.

    My first year at the high school, I made some mistake on a worksheet, and a boy announced that young teachers always make mistakes but old teachers don't. Then he said, "Ms. X always messed up on our worksheets last year, but that's because she's even younger than you. She's only 24." Actually, I was 23 at the time, so I took that as a compliment. Another time that year the kids asked me how old I was and guessed 25 to 35 (I never answer).

    I guess it depends on what the kids think of as normal. I had two teachers under 40 from kindergarten to high school. I was worried that the kids would think I was too young to take seriously. But at least at our school, most teachers are under 40, and it doesn't seem to phase the kids. They will think you are as old/mature as you dress and act.

    Sadly, a lot of young teachers at my school do things that I just think are so inappropriate. One slow-danced with a boy when she was chaperoning the homecoming dance, and he kept running his hands up and down her sides. I saw another one playfully tickling the palm of a boy's hands in the hall and carrying a student on her back to their class picture. Another gave kids her cell phone number and let them sit in her lap and call her by her first name. It's not hard to command respect compared to these dummies (and we wonder why so many female teachers have recently been in the news for inappropriate relationships with students).
     
  3. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Aug 27, 2006


    :eek: How could they get away with this ?!?! I usually keep my nose out of things but I would have reported this behavior.
     
  4. pinky74

    pinky74 Rookie

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    Aug 27, 2006

    I can't even imagine acting so foolishly, especially at a dance you are chaperoning! When one of my students even tries to hug me, I make sure that I am in plain view of other adults. You can never be too careful. It's not that I don't have a close relationship with my students, but I make sure that they understand it is a teacher- student relationship, and it is appropriate at all times. I also must say I live in the neighborhood that I teach (I love the commute;) ) and some students came to the door last year. I was home alone, and told them that as much as I would love to have guests, it just wasn't appropriate. But, If they see me out riding my bike or walking, they could feel free to join me. How on Earth could a teacher let students get on such a personal level? Growing up we had one who did that. Years later he was convicted of molestation. I am simply flabbergasted! I hope the students that were sitting in their teachers laps were in Pre- K or K!
     
  5. peanutbutter

    peanutbutter Rookie

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    Aug 29, 2006

    These posts crack me up. I'm 23, teaching seventh grade. Last year, I taught a couple fifth, sixth, and high school classes (its a small private school) part-time, and I definitely didn't get the respect I needed. Girls would come up to me and say "Wow I love your shirt!" or "I have that skirt at home" and it wasn't that I was dressing out of Gap Kids. Sometimes I'd show up with my hair in a ponytail, or trendy shoes, and it just didn't cut it. This year, I'm making sure I turn things around a bit, especially because I have an almost all boys class this year.

    Everyone's suggestions were great... if I just take the extra time to make sure my hair and makeup are done, and I dress more professionally, I hope I'll command some respect. And to those on the shorter side.. there are some really cute closed-toe pumps out there. Just kick them off when you're sitting at your desk. :)
     
  6. nhoying

    nhoying Rookie

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    Oct 26, 2006

    I was substituting in the same classroom that I student-taught in. Since I knew the class and the school, I knew I could wear my school t-shirt with jeans for "spirit day". I woke up late and wore my hair in a ponytail. Around lunch I was sitting at the computer when a parent walked it. He did a double take and then asked..."Are you the high school helper?"

    Needless to say, now that I am anticipating my new job starting next week, I am definately NEVER going to wear my hair in a ponytail, and even on spirit days, I don't think I can pull off jeans! :)
     
  7. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Oct 26, 2006

     
  8. hatima

    hatima Devotee

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    Oct 26, 2006

    I have that problem! I'm 24 and have always looked young. I get mad when people ask me what grade am I in, then they are shocked to find out my age and that I completed college. Even in stores I get treated like a kid. I can't stand it, people say, well "you'll be thankful when your older." They've been saying that since I was 10. I'm sure oneday I'll be oh yea, I still look young. But right now, I want to be treated like I'm not some kid. Oh, and I hate wearing makeup, which does make me look younger (not wearing it). I do find when I dress up (nice skirt and formfiting shirt) I do get treated a lot more like an adult. But I will say, many of my coworkers thought I was older, because they say "You act older." I've heard that since I was 18. The "acting older" doesn't help when initial impresions have you teated like a kid.
     
  9. mathsub

    mathsub Rookie

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    Oct 27, 2006

    My trick (as I can't wear pumps- baaaaaad feet) is the lanyard with all the keys. Add to that a confident walk, and despite the fact I look 16 (seriously) everyone knows I'm a teacher (they just think I'm a lot younger than I am).
    I always wear blouses. I wear darker colours even though I prefer bright colours. I wear dress pants, nothing tight, and it seems to work.
     
  10. arteach

    arteach Rookie

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    Nov 4, 2006

    I got asked if I was an 8th grader when I worked at a middle school and I am 26 going on 27! It is a curse of the freckles!
     
  11. diro.pams

    diro.pams Companion

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    Nov 4, 2006

    Sadly enough, I never get challenged about my age anymore. The rapid outgrowth of gray from the recent color job, the wrinkles. Oh well! I talk with my kindergarten students about when I was a girl, "back in the dinosaur days". Then I tell them that dinosaurs really were around and gone LONG before I was born!
     
  12. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Nov 9, 2006

    I love this thread!! I have always looked very youg for my age (it runs in my family) and hated it! Now, I don't care too much about looking young. Dont' get me started on what it was like when I was subbing!!
    But now that I have a teaching position, principals, BTSA mentors, and reading first coaches who comes in to observe me say that I'm doing an awesome job. My students are learning (my class got the highest scores on our last test in the grade level) and they all say that they love school. What bothers me about looking young is when I'm dealing with PARENTS! I want them to take me seriously, but when I look younger than them, how seriously do they take me? I look like I could be their child!
     
  13. artlovr

    artlovr New Member

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    Nov 12, 2006

    I too am plagued with this problem, I stand five feet tall as well. I just started an internship teaching eighth grade. I have never taught eighth grade and was VERY intimidated by thier hieght (and rude comments about my age). I tell you what, stand tall, be assertive, consistant, fair and organized and they will get the picture quick! This is my second week and they already quiet with just "the look". You can do it! Be strong, you are woman, you are teacher!
     
  14. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Nov 13, 2006

    My prior career was in corporate marketing. My career was plateaued because the men in charge saw me as too young for more responsibility. Then, I took a presentation course and was videotaped presenting. The class and teacher critiqued the videos. The two biggest changes I made were: 1. stopped tilting my head to the side when talking. really! I never knew I did it, but right on tape I'd tilt my head in this girlish way, which made me seem younger than I am. 2. learned to drop my tone of voice, especially at the end of statements. Listen to newscasters state their names: they always say the last syllable lower than the first, not higher like a question. They sound like authorities.

    I made a huge leap up the ladder after this class. It really worked wonders.

    One more point I'll make: now that I'm 37, people who are in their 20s are sometimes indistinguishable from teens to me. I never thought it would happen to me :) but sure enough, the kids walking to high school look about 12 and the receptionists at companies look about 16. Part of the comments silly people (like me sometimes) make to you 20somethings are out of our own disbelief that we aren't even close to being 20something ourselves anymore!
     
  15. Txdance2007

    Txdance2007 Rookie

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    Jan 7, 2007

    HA HA! I feel the exact same way. I am in the same situation as all of you. I'm a 1st year teacher, and I teach dance, so I cannot wear a suit to school, I wear dance clothing, or gym clothing. I made a smart move the week before school started and got a bunch of matching workout suits with jackets in the school colors and had my name Ms. and last name with director under it embroydered on the jackets.
    I had one of the girls on the drill team tell me her cousin was only taking my class because he liked to stare at my rear. Now my jacket goes around my waist when I start teaching.
    I also performed at a pep rally with my team ( a tradition the previous director had started) and some of the football players wanted to know who the hot new girls was. That was a tad bit embarassing!
    I had a teacher try to give me detention for not having my ID badge on. I had left it in my office on the other side of campus, and the principal stared me down when I went into the teachers mail room, until he came in and saw it was me then remarked "WOW you do look really young from far away."

    Oh well. I'm 25 and 5'0 also. I guess short does have a thing or two to do with it.
     
  16. sisterto4

    sisterto4 Rookie

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    Jan 7, 2007

    My suggestion is to wear lipstick! That sounds so trivial, I know, but it really does help. Especially in a secondary classroom, the female students often wear lip gloss, but rarely lipstick. It really made a difference in my last practicum high school classroom. I walked into a room one day to wait for my mentor teacher and all the students said, "are you our substitute teacher?" That made me feel good! :)

    I know The Limited is expensive, but if you go at the right time you can get really nice pants for $30 or $40. And, you can do like I did and ask for gift cards for christmas/birthdays, etc! And of course, Target is great!

    Now, I'll pose a question. Someone on this post said you should wear pumps/heels. I gotta know, how do you do this without killing your feet all day long? I've tried heels before, and thought I was going to die by the time second hour rolled around.

    What kind of shoes do you all suggest for the entire school day?
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2007
  17. JHenry

    JHenry Rookie

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    Jan 7, 2007

    I'm a 24 year old male and I look younger than I am as well. My twin and I are mistaken for teenagers all the time. People are always shocked when they ask us what grade we are in and find out that we have graduated college. They always think that we should be in high school.

    When substitute teaching we regularly get yelled at for being in the halls.

    I'm doing a MAT program now and I am afraid that my looks will hurt my chances of getting a job.

    I've grown a beard and I hope it helps people to take me more seriously.

    We are average height (5'8) but we are thin and have a small build.
     
  18. Kteacher06

    Kteacher06 Companion

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    Jan 8, 2007

    I am also a teacher who looks like a teenager and it has been a struggle to "teach" people that I'm a professional (I'm 27). It is a constant struggle in the profession and it often gets me down. I wanted to share a reall nice compliment I received recently:

    The husband of one of my co-workers lives and works overseas. He was visiting locally and met the parent of one of my students. They were discussing kindergarten and the parent stated that his daughter had the really young teacher. My co-worker's husband said, "yeah, she looks young, but she's got the wisdom of a 50-year-old."

    I was so touched when I heard that story. I'm often down about how young I look and about the negative comments that I hear, but this really helped me put things in perspective and focus on the work I'm doing here.
     
  19. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jan 8, 2007

    I'd just love to have these problems. You guys all sound very mature, and that's the important part.
     
  20. teacheratheart

    teacheratheart Companion

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    Jan 8, 2007

    I wear heels almost everyday to work or I've got students that are almost as tall as me. I make sure they are round toed or open toed I don't wear pointy or even semi-pointy toed shoes. I think that really makes a difference. But there are definitely times where I slip my shoes off and walk around class in my stockings or flip flops.
     
  21. wannateachem

    wannateachem Rookie

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    Jan 28, 2007

    Hi everybody..first post, but just wanted to say it's good to know I'm not alone...

    I'm a college senior but I've been working as the afterschool program assistant at (hopefully) the school I'm going to be working/teaching at next year since last spring. We only have the lower school kids (k-5), but some of the boys are just as tall as I am, and I'm not exactly short (5'6ish). I also get all the time how young I look away from work..in fact on my 21st birthday, I told a man it was my birthday and he asked me if I liked being a teenager, finally.

    Well, the fact that I look so young hasn't really been a problem so far at work..until the other day. I work with a lady who flat out doesn't get along with the older boys, I think mostly because she doesn't know how to relate to them, and the fact that I am not so much older than them makes them trust me more. (I actually had one boy tell me there was no way I was 21, that made me 10 years older than him, and he couldn't believe it.)

    The problem has been though that we've had middle school and high school boys coming out to play with our older guys on the basketball court, and they've really been hurting the boys feelings because they won't pass/share the ball (the after school program ball to be exact) with them..I had watched it go on for 2-3 days, but finally on friday I had had enough, and went to tell them to share the ball or stop..

    well, I guess one didn't realize that I was the after school teacher..although I'm there everyday...because he asked me if I was a new high school student that he hadn't met yet..he thought I was one of the new freshman girls! He was embarassed, but at least he ended up sharing with the boys after i explained who i was..;)
     

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