I have always looked young for my age, ever since I can remember. While it was something that I can be self-conscious about, I have never let it get too much under my skin. Friends and I, who have the same issue, always joke about how when we're 40 years old, we'll look 25 and then we'll laugh at those who mistook us for high school students walking into the bar! Having a good sense of humor about it is easy among your peers, but what I wasn't prepared for was how this would affect me in my professional career.
I always thought one of the hardest things about being a teacher would be reaching every student or the workload or classroom management. As I am beginning my career, I am scared to think that it may be none of those things, but instead something that has nothing to do with the job at all: I hardly look older than my students.
This semester I knew I would be working in a high school classroom for my field experience, and I already had begun to dread the age gap (or lack thereof). Four years age difference looks a lot different from where I'm standing than where they are.
If you're a future educator with a young face, or simply anyone who also looks too young for their job, this piece is dedicated to you.These are the painfully relatable truths about being a young-looking, young teacher:
1. People think you're the student, not the teacher
I'll never forget the time a substitute teacher for an eighth-grade classroom greeted me as a student... uhh.... ouch...
2. Business casual attire has taken over your wardrobe
Just when you thought you couldn't love TJ Maxx any more than you already do. Dressing business casual promotes a more professional side of you that makes a distinction between you and the rest of your students.
3. Most of your students are bigger than you
...Did they always come in that size?
4. Students talk to you as a peer
If students think you look like a peer, then they'll talk to you like a peer, and sometimes they may cross a boundary line with what they share with you. ALWAYS re-establish that line and make sure they know that you're their teacher, not their friend!
5. The reactions you get when you tell people how old you are
This one always gets me because then I'll think to myself, "I'm a senior in college... how old did you think I was?"
6. Your students try to add you on social media
Students can be knowsy little beings. They want to "creep" on your page to see what they can find out about you, and when you don't accept their request, they'll call you out in class the next day.
7. Your subject knowledge is undermined
Despite the fact that you almost have an entire bachelor's degree under your belt, or have graduated by now, students and staff alike often undermine your experience and content knowledge just because you look young.
Looking young for your age is no picnic, especially when it comes to your profession. However, don't let it get too far under your skin, because eventually you'll be grateful for it!