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Feeling too young to be a teacher!

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by toffee20, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. toffee20

    toffee20 New commenter


    I'm a secondary maths trainee, 21 and a half, and feeling not mature enough to be telling 30 children what to do! I feel like a child myself! Very very aware of the fact that I am only 3 years older than some of the sixth formers..
    I've come straight from uni, and I went straight from school to uni... I'm wondering about spending a year volunteering / working in the 'real world' that isn't school / uni to grow up, get some 'life experience' and start feeling more like an adult!
    I just wondered..
    1) Does anyone else feel that they aren't old enough?
    2) I realise that starting an NQT year after a year out would be difficult - has anyone done this?
    3) Any advice?!

    & on a slightly unrelated note.. Does anyone feel hugely guilty telling children off for things they did in school?!

    Thank you in advance for helpful advice! :) x
  2. toffee20

    toffee20 New commenter


    I'm a secondary maths trainee, 21 and a half, and feeling not mature enough to be telling 30 children what to do! I feel like a child myself! Very very aware of the fact that I am only 3 years older than some of the sixth formers..
    I've come straight from uni, and I went straight from school to uni... I'm wondering about spending a year volunteering / working in the 'real world' that isn't school / uni to grow up, get some 'life experience' and start feeling more like an adult!
    I just wondered..
    1) Does anyone else feel that they aren't old enough?
    2) I realise that starting an NQT year after a year out would be difficult - has anyone done this?
    3) Any advice?!

    & on a slightly unrelated note.. Does anyone feel hugely guilty telling children off for things they did in school?!

    Thank you in advance for helpful advice! :) x
  3. kazzmaniandevil

    kazzmaniandevil New commenter

    As a mature student who specifically took 10 years out of education for this very reason I would agree that you need to take time out. I think differently than I did when I was 20 and most certainly act differently. Time away will give you the chance to experience the other side of life and in turn will give you the chance to see yourself differently compared to the children (young adults really) that you are teaching.
    Also if you allow yourself to take time out from the education system hopefully it will improve by the time you get back into it!!
  4. In my personal opinion, I think that good, mature teachers of your age are the minority. I think that you're right to say you could benefit from growing up and living/working in the "real world" for a bit. It will make you a more rounded individual and, therefore, a more rounded and better teacher.
    I'm not saying that all people who go straight from sixth form to uni to pgce and therefore start their teaching career aged 21/22 are immature, but I think that many are. Just my opinion ... but you did (kind of) ask for it!
    It's good that you've identified it, though, and this shows more maturity than those who can't even see it themselves!
    EDIT : was the 21 <u>and a half</u> ironic? Anyone who still counts the halves isn't old/mature enough to be a teacher, surely! ;)
  5. Too late to edit again ... It was around 10 years after uni that I decided to move into teaching, and, as a maths teacher like you, I think that those 10 years allowed me to see maths in a different way. No matter what subject, but (and maybe I'm biased!) especially maths, some time in "the real world" as you put it allows you to contextualise your learning so much more. I have given lessons based entirely around things I used to do in previous jobs, or things friends do, or real life situations I have found myself in ... much easier when you've "lived a little".
  6. davidmu

    davidmu Occasional commenter

    Not a problem if you can handle it. At 22 I was teaching Sixth form lads who also played Rugby and Cricket in the same teams as me for the town side where I taught. Far from being a handicap, it made "A" teaching even easier as they could see both sides of me at play and work. Their eventual A results were some of the best the school ever had.
  7. There are simple things you can do to 'mature' visibly - mostly down to your dress at work - dressing a bit 'older' for example. Often your patterns of speech (e.g. is your language more akin to the pupils or the older staff); I would look daft at my age - over 40 - if I praised a pupil by saying - "hey that's cool!" so adjusting your speech to avoid 'youth speak' may also help.
    When I interview potentiasl trainees I do often suggest a travel period between univeresity and ITT or even just getting a job somewhere - doesn't matter what - shop work, bar work etc not part-time student work just full time day to day stuff as this 'matures' you.
    The Sage
  8. I dont think you should let your age be an issue. If anything you can use it to your advantage. I feel that my young age helps me build better relationships with pupils, particularly those with behavioural issues.
    It slightly amuses me that it sounds that some replies on here suggest that ability to teach is directly linked to age.
    I am a 23 (and a sixth [​IMG]) year old teacher, teaching ks3-5, does my age put me at a disadvantage? certainly not! I know teachers who are 20 years older than me who do not have the teaching skills, subject knowledge and personal skills that I demonstrate (not that I am saying that mine surpass the majority). This is never more true than at a time when vast amounts of older people are entering the profession and therefore share the same experience as myself.
    If you feel that you need some more life experiences then do so, but could I suggest the wonderful opportunities that may manifest during school holidays, go travelling!
  9. s249

    s249 New commenter

    I'm younger than you. (Just 21) and have never felt too young to teach. In fact I feel that being so young is an advantage to me. (I'm still training)
    I have known all my life that I wanted to be a teacher, I didn't start another job then have to decide what to do and decide on being a teacher because I had no other ideas. Pupils respect me for my values and because I respect them, and no, I never feel bad about telling pupils off if they do something wrong. They know the rules, and if they break them then it's their problem!
    If you really want to teach, age shouldn't matter.
  10. This may just be symantics, but wanting to teach has nothing to do with it (I think it's fair to assume that anyone who puts themselves through the stress of training and working their socks off for around, or sometimes below, minimum wage wants to teach) - it's whether you are good at teaching. I happen to think that good teachers who go straight into it are in the minority, whereas those who have done something else are (again, in my opinion) often better quicker.
    Obviously there are exceptions, and perhaps you and the OP fall into that category (similarly I'm sure that there are plenty of terrible teachers with several years' experience in other industries), but these are my opinions.
    I also take umbrage with your comment of people working in another job/career and then deciding on teaching because they had no other ideas. Again, perhaps this is the case sometimes, but surely the minority?
  11. It's completely unfair to make generalisations MasterMaths. I am sure it would be considered very rude at best to say that being more mature, or having children of one's own, make somebody a worse teacher - so why the same is not true in reverse, I can't understand. The truth is that everybody is too individual to make generalisations based on age. I qualified at 21: I am 31 now. I could have done something else in the ten years beforehand but I chose to teach and I think the ten years experience I've gained have ultimately been more useful than "life experience!"
    One of the worst teachers I work with is a "mature" NQT. If I refused to appoint more mature teachers based on this member of staff, I'd be showing myself up to be narrow minded and foolish. Take people on their merits, on what they can offer the school, the children and the subject. I knew I wanted to teach English since I was fourteen years old - why on earth would I have wanted to do anything else when I knew what I really wnated to do was teach? [​IMG]
  12. In my experience teachers who have studied a 3 or 4yr Undergraduate Teacher Training Degrees (BEd, BA or BSc) tend to be 'better equipped' in their NQT year than PGCE or GTP teachers.
    I'm not saying that teachers who studied an undergraduate initial teacher training course are better teachers but they certainly receive a lot more training for the job. Pedagogy, Education theory and subject input tends to be limited on a PGCE because of the time constraints - it is alot to fit in within 9 months! Sadly GTP teachers tend to have even less input on education/learning theory because the vast majority of their training is done in schools. This is not the teachers fault however, and many amazing teachers studied either a PGCE or GTP qualification.
    You may even argue that GTP students spend far more time in the classroom - although I personally would not say this makes you more prepared to teach!
    Do not underestimate young NQT's (21-24) - In the schools I have worked at they frequently display high levels of creativity, imagination, behaviour management and a passion for the job.
    The views I have shared have just been what I have experienced within schools
  13. Callybug, I've been really careful to make it clear that what I've said is just my opinion. I have also been extremely clear in saying that it is not cut and dry and that there are always exceptions, so please don't make it seem that I have said that being young = bad teacher, because I have not said that at all.
    What do you mean by this?
    Do you mean that you are a better teacher now for those 10 years experience? If so, then take yourself out of the equation, and think how much better? Turn this on its head and ask yourself how much worse were you at first? Now, did those pupils in the early years get a fair deal?
    This is my point - teaching is far too important a role to grow into. Yes, we should all aim to improve, and very few people will be amazing from day one. However, I am glad I came in to teaching at the age of 30-something. I don't doubt that if I had started teaching at the age of 21/2 I would, in time, have become a good teacher. However, I feel that my maturity, experiences, and the range of contexts to which I was exposed during the intervening years allowed me to reach a good standard much quicker.
    To repeat, I am by no means saying that anyone who goes straight in to teaching at 21/22 will be a bad teacher. Neither am I saying that a 30 year old student teacher will be better simply because of their age. I'm stating MY opinion based on my own experiences, what I have seen in schools and what I've discussed with other people.
    I also refer back to the OP, who was questioning his/her own maturity and readiness to teach. Nobody reading this forum knows him/her better than he/she does. So if anyone says "no, you're fine to teach at your age" surely they are generalising?! All I was doing was agreeing with the OP that, perhaps, they would benefit for a few years doing something else. Also, teaching maths as well, the ability to make genuine real-world links is priceless, and since I can do this based on real documents from my previous jobs, real photos from my DIY projects, real stop-frame video of my house being built and a collection of real CVs and job specs detailing the importance of maths, I feel that I'm justified in my opinions.
    The OP also said "I feel like a child myself!" ... surely that's an indication that they perhaps aren't ready for this?
  14. Hi, I'm 23 and in my second year of teaching. Always wanted to be a teacher and never thought twice about my age. Went from school to college to university to my Pgce straight into a year 4 job which I love! I don't think that doing something else would of done anything different in terms of my teaching abilities or how I manage my class or children, I sometimes find the children want a relationship with me because I am younger and they feel I understand them more.

    Although for my own life I do feel I should of taken a year or two out to do things that I am now restricted on, for example going on holiday whenever I want, going to festivals or off for a long weekend for a friends birthday or hen do. These things I can never do unless they are in the holidays which sometimes means that your life = work and nothing else. I personally love my job and would never change career but wish I had taken a year or two to my self to be young and carefree but that's my personal opinion :)

    Enjoy whatever it is you decide to do :)
  15. newposter

    newposter Occasional commenter

    I don't think that's rude, I think you're being very thin skinned. Asking a question and then throwing a tantrum at the answer belies a lack of maturity. Life experience is crucial to surviving in this job, and it's generally the young *** who talk the most rubbish about teaching.
  16. Hey,
    I'm going to doing a PGCE course and sometimes think I'm not mature enough whilst everyone around me tellme I'm the maturest person for 22 year old theyve met! As others have said on here, it's a question only you can answer. I feel ready and prepared to take on a teaching career with it horns and cannot wait to get stuck in. I've had full and part time jobs throughout university and I can understand where people are coming from as it really does make you see things differently. Looking at it now, if I didn't have that experience behind me, I think I wouldv'e gone into the profession very naeive (cant spell that word) and thin skinned. Regardless of wherever you go in whatever job/field, it's the people and their attitudes that either make the place fantastic to work in or a place where negativity ruins it all. I've found the more 'life experience' people have the more negative they are :(
    I wouldn't worry about it too much. Surely if the officials thought people would be too young to start a career in teaching when theyre in their early 20's there would be an age limit to start? In my final year now and all my friends who have found 'proper' full time jobs are terrified as they just don't feel mature enough. It's not just the teaching career people feel like this, everyone has their doubts [​IMG]
    I would say go for teaching but if you really are thinking twice then maybe take a year out as others have suggested. Hope this helps xx

  17. I didn't draw that conclusion. I asked you what you thought about it. As someone else has posted, you seem incredibly thin skinned. Also, I believe you said you're an English teacher, so surely you can see the structure of my question. You made reference to your 10 years' experience, surely meaning that it has made you a better teacher. Which is great, and, of course, what we would all hope for (in any career). But the simple fact is, therefore, that you were less good before you had those 10 years experience. There's nothing wrong with that. I was simply asking how to consider how much worse (please don't be offended by that word - it's simply a nicer way of saying "less good") you were at the beginning.
    I ask because I have spoken to some very good teachers who openly admit that they think that they got into teaching too early. They also always wanted to be a teacher and started their PGCE at 21/22. These teachers have quite honestly, and very maturely, admitted that their pupils in the first few years could have had a better teacher. Did they at least teach to a minimally accepted standard? Yes, I'm sure they did. Did they, however, give those pupils the best possible education/learning experience? In their words, no.
    So, in other words, we shouldn't respond to their questions? And, if you follow that line of thinking to its natural conclusion, they shouldn't have posted the question? See what happens what you (accidentally or deliberately) misinterpret someone's words?
  18. Agreed but I think that this isn't just down to age. It's also down to the lack of practical experience. We all have to start somewhere! Surely you could say this about your own practice too when you first started?
    I was 23 when I did my PGCE course because I spent 2 years working as an Academic Tutor in a respected University in London before doing my PGCE course and I thought that this experience would give me an advantage, just as I thought that age would give the others an advantage (I was the youngest person in my tutor group and many of my fellow PGCEs had children). In fact, we all found it difficult at first for various reasons, so our ages and life experiences had nothing to do with it (except that in certain situations we did have different advantages to each other).
    For example, As you say, age and having children was useful for some of my fellow PGCE students when disciplining students because they were used to dealing with children, so could go into a room firmly and say 'that's enough and be met with instant silence!'. It took me a year or two to get to that point. On the other hand, the fact that I am still in the same generation as my students-I teach A-levels-has helped me because when I discipline students, I can talk to them at their level because I'm still close to them in age and it wasn't that long ago that I was in their position, so I can take them aside individually and have the 'ok. What is your problem? Do you know what will happen to your future if you continue?' talk without worrying if I'll be seen as patronising. I.e. I can't talk to them as a parent but I can talk to them as say, an older sister who has recently shared the same experience and is determined to act as a good role model).
    Conversely, you could argue that older teachers have more life experience and responsibilities than I have, so are better at ppa because they are used to multi-tasking. On the other hand, you could also argue that because I'm younger and have fewer responsibilities (single and still live with my parents for financial reasons), I should have an advantage because I've got more time for ppa. Again, I've not found that to be the case at all!
    My view is this, the most important thing that I learned during my second year when I had to teach post 19 students in classes where only one person was younger than I was is that true teaching ability and authority comes from knowing what you want from them, working towards it wholeheartedly, knowing your subject/course matter and presenting yourself in the way that you would like them to treat you and each other. If this is what you do, then you will succeed, regardless of how old you are! The rest, such as starting at a young age or looking younger than your age (as I still do, thankfully. I've only just started to appreciate it) is bs!
    "So, in other words, we shouldn't respond to their questions? And, if you follow that line of thinking to its natural conclusion, they shouldn't have posted the question?"
    I don't think that's what callybug was suggesting. All callybug was suggesting was that we shouldn't make generalisations about people on the basis of age or other characteristics about them (but I may, of course, have misinterpreted callybug, which is the problem with posting on an online forum rather than speaking face to face ;-)).
    My view of the OP's quote is that he/she is having the natural doubts that we all have when we move into the next phases of our lives. I questioned myself in exactly the same way when I first did my Academic Tutoring and I'd had another job for 5 years, so I was definitely ready to move up the professional ladder! Also, my view is that if the teaching university felt that the OP was too young to train as a teacher, then they wouldn't have accepted him/her onto the course. Ditto, if my boss felt that I wasn't mature enough to be an Academic Tutor, I wouldn't have been given the job, let alone doing it for 2 years (I only left it because I wanted to train to be a post 16 teacher and one of the requirements for getting the PGCE bursary was not to be employed as teacher during the course).


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