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Looking young and not being taken seriously

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by ellie_rose, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. ellie_rose

    ellie_rose New commenter

    Are there any young looking NQTs out there who are finding it hard to be taken seriously as a teacher? I have just started my NQT year but was quite annoyed by other people's attitudes towards me on the first day. I am 24, about 5'2 and slim with a baby face. When I went into the staff room during the first week, I noticed some of the TAs whispering and looking at me. I thought this was a bit rude as I was sitting directly opposite them and it wasn't exactly subtle. One of them then said "are you a new TA?" to which I replied I was one of the new teachers. She then said something along the lines of, "Oh, God! I would never have thought that, you look like a TA because you're so young!"

    I find this so annoying and rude. I would never dream of commenting on someone's appearance by telling them they look old or overweight or anything like that, so why it is socially acceptable to tell me I look young? I get this everywhere and it's becoming really tedious. I can't change it either, as wearing heels/make-up can only do so much. I never used to have a problem with the way I look but the more people comment on it, the more it starts to dent my confidence.

    I am now really anxious about starting to teach my class next week and attending parents evening in a few days. I really don't want every parent to comment on how young I look as I get sick of it. I wish they would take me seriously and look at my qualifications and achievements rather than my face. Sorry for the rant, it's getting me down a bit and I'm sick of hearing "oh you'll appreciate it when you're 40!" I just want to live my life now and get shown the respect I show other people.
  2. stewartk89

    stewartk89 New commenter

    Yes!! I have this exact problem too!

    It's starting to make me doubt myself as a teacher as lots of parents comment on it and I'm not sure how to respond other than to laugh it off!

    I agree that it gets very tedious...does it really matter if we look young as long as we are doing our jobs properly?
  3. cupcake1788

    cupcake1788 New commenter

    Don't let it get you down, embrace it! I am an NQT and currently in my second term. I teach at a Secondary school so I know all too well about looking like a sixth former! I have learnt to embrace my youthful looks. The children have not commented at all and the staff are all lovely. I have survived two Parents' Evenings and the parents have all said lovely things about my teaching. A couple remarked on the fact that I looked young and I responded by saying that I was hoping it would still be the case when I was 40.
    I would ignore the TA's. It sounds to me like they have a bad case of jealously. Ask them to come in to one of your lessons and wow them with your awesomeness!

    The young NQT's need to stick together!
  4. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I'm so sorry but this post did make me smile. I remember being just as cross in my first 2-3 years of teaching. Now I'd give anything for someone to suggest I look or am 'young'.

    There is nothing you can do about it...you do look young and so people will say so. People still tell me I can't possibly be going to be 40 this year as I only look about 35. (Yes, I do know that to you that sounds really old! Don't say so!)

    All you can do is give parents and children the clear message that you are 'in charge' and they better not mess with you. I remember, in my first year, a year 10 troublesome boy's father telling me that he hoped I would call for help when his son misbehaved. I responded by saying pretty sternly that his wouldn't dare misbehave in my lesson. The mother laughed and said she thought I would do just fine.

    This will all blow over in a few weeks once you get settled in. Just act and sound like a teacher and they will stop. Promise!
  5. Have you thought about wearing a fake moustache? Give it a year or two - you'll be feeling (if not looking) rather older and more haggered than before.
    I don't think this helps your current situation though.
  6. I know EXACTLY how you feel, although to be fair I haven't had any comments in my job (so far!). It's one thing to simply look at you for a couple of seconds and make an assumption from that, but it's when people have watched my behaviour (not necessarily in my teaching role) and then still assume I'm barely out of my teens that I started getting very worried.
  7. Georgia99

    Georgia99 New commenter

    I really understand how frustrating it is. I am a NQT, however, I am 33 but still look much younger than my years. People normally think I am about 21 and fresh out of university.
    The other day I had invited some visitors in to speak to my Year 12 class, they were a couple of Physiotherapists in their late 20s. When I arrived at the class I introduced myself as being Georgia, they looked at me odd and before allowing me to continue they instructed me to go and sit with a group of the Year 12s. I said ok let me just take the register to which they replied 'oh my god are you the teacher?! I thought you were a 6th former as you look so young'.
    I know it is a compliment, especially at 33 but I was mortified and embarrassed in front of my class.
    When I was in my late 20s people always thought I was a teenager. It took me until I was 32 to stop being asked for ID and even now and again I still get occasionally asked. People do say to be thankful for it and I am sure I will once I am 40+ but it is difficult and unless you've experienced it first hand you can't appreciate how it feels.
  8. Hey
    I'm 21 and im like the youngest teacher, I still feel like a teenager! Parents have commented on it also but you should'nt take it personally. At my school we have loads of new teachers coming in which is a good thing as this is what school's appreciate. What are the kids like with you? Mine all know how old I am and they love it, because I'm young and I can relate to them. You could make a joke of it, as then it might not seem so annoying.
    Hope that helps?
  9. The only time you need to worry about it is if you get a parent try to take advantage of you being young, i.e. they try to walk all over you when you speak to them or at parent's evening. I'm only 23 but have the opposite comments, most people think I'm older, 25-26 at the youngest. I do know some young looking teachers that have encountered problems from push parents who didn't think they looked old enough to be teaching their child. You just lay down very clear expectations, just as you do with the children, as to how you expect to be treated and delt with. If you still get issues have no qualms about getting someone from SLT involved with your meetings. Difficult, I know, if you are trying to be taken seriously on your own, but it'll show you're not alone and have the weight of school management behind you regardless of your age.
  10. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    This happened to a friend of mine.....in a Year 6 class!!!!! She's fairly short and it was an art day so everyone including her was wearing an art shirt or something!
    I am 25 and still regularly get ID'd. On my first day in my job a few parents said "oh, first job is it" now it is my first teaching job but I actually held a graduate management position for 2 years between uni and PGCE so I could be in my 3rd year teaching based on my age!
  11. Your post made me smile as I totally agree with everything you say, even down to the getting sick of people saying you'll be grateful when you're 40 attitude (I too am slightly built, but not to the point of model shape, and 5ft 4)!
    Only now, have I got to the age where I'm starting to appreciate it! For instance, prior to a recent operation, one of the first things my surgeon asked me was if I wanted my parents to come in with me (odd question, I thought) and then he asked me how old I was. When I told him that I was 30 (I'm 31 now), he couldn't believe it and immediately said that I didn't look that old! I laughed and responsded that my make up must be doing a good job then! He laughed too! The funny thing is, that I wear make up to look older (for professional reasons) rather than younger, so it was actually doing a bad job!
    When teaching, I noticed it more than other people did! No-one else has ever made any stupid comments on it, apart from one moronic supply agency consultant who claimed to be an expert in communication! He soon back tracked once he'd interviewed me properly though!
    I think this might be because in my last role, in particular, I made the decision that as I was HoD, I had to take charge and take no nonsense from my students (i.e. I was friendly and wet out of my way to establish a good rapport with them but I wasn't going to allow any of them to take any liberties) and do everything I could to make sure that they would get the best results they could get (including telling the parents exactly what their little darlings were up to in no uncertain terms!).
    Anyway, I digress! The point that I was trying to make was that if you behave as if you are the well-qualified and experienced (from your placement) teacher that you are, then that's what people will see when they look at you, rather than how young or not you are!
    As for the TAs, I agree that they're probably jealous! Tell them (if they bother you about this again) that you look younger than you are because you only do tanning from a bottle and religiously apply Oil of Olay every day!
  12. I totally agree with your statement as I have only turned 23. However, I have to say I am taken seriously but now and again I get the odd comment. For example, I was in a meeting with the SENCO, parents and the deputy head. The dad had pain in his wisdom tooth and the deputy head commented that "I'm sure everyone in this room has experienced this pain.. apart from a couple of us in this room, the younger ones". I smirked and tried to avoid eye contact, as I knew the comment was aimed at me!
  13. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Give yourselves a few more years - then no-one will ever think you're young. Trust me.

  14. No wonder you smirked! What your DH probably doesn't realise is that people can grow wisdom teeth from the age of 18, so even some of your students will know the pain if your school has 6th form students! The twit!
  15. Given my experience of teaching so far, I'm surprised that this hasn't happened to me already! LOL!
  16. thequillguy

    thequillguy New commenter

    Sounds like your TAs think that managing a class is about being gruff and rough. Which might be the limits of how they perceive classroom management. As others have said, roll with it.
  17. Yes this happens to me too! I was in trouble last week for not turning out to do my break duty. I was so confused as I'd been stading in my spot throughout break - turns out the headteacher walked straight past me as I was talking to a group of Y7 pupils and mistook me for one of them!

    I just laughed it off but it does get tedious - especially parents' evening when they want to know the story of your life. The best advice I ever received was to be the most brilliant, professional teacher you can be and if people want to make assumptions then let them. You know that you're a fab teacher and that's all that matters :) x
  18. I have to say that after a term and a half of teaching I don't look as young as I used to!
    I do still get a lot of hassle for my height though-all 5 foot 2 of it! My KS4 students couldn't care less but my KS3 are obsessed by the fact that I'm short. When they run up and say 'Miss, miss you're so short!' I tend to act surprised and say 'really? gosh I'd never noticed!' Not the most mature response but tends to confuse the little darlings which is amusing to watch!
  19. I am so glad that I have read this post.
    I am 21 so I am on my first teaching placement. I have come straight from uni and I am training to be a science teacher.
    In my first lesson, one of my year 10s said, 'You're not a teacher, you're only in about year 9'
    I just forgot about it and carried on but its always been one of my worries. Thankfully all the staff in the Science dept are really supportive. I find year 11 boys the most difficult but i find that if i am strict enough with them then they soon stop it.
    I would say that my main problem is with middle aged female teachers. A lot of them actually ignore me which i find incredibly rude, however all i can say is... its not what you look like, its about the quality of teaching. I would never say to someone 'you look too old to be a teacher' so why sohuld i be judged for being so young!
  20. I'm another one stuck in this position. I'm 5ft 4" (just) and 31.
    I was ID'd the other day when I popped into Boots to buy pain killers - apparently I don't even look 16. :( I hate buying alcohol if I'm shopping on my own, as I regularly run the gauntlet of catty checkout operators.
    I run a library in an FE college. I've never had any problem with the tutors - but new members of management staff seem to be rather confused by me. I rarely run into parents - thanks goodness (one of the reasons I left primary teaching).
    A favourite game for the students here crops up from time to time - and they attempt to guess my age. This is usually prompted around UCAS application time, when I get asked if I've been to university or not. I find it quite entertaining now, especially as most of them think I'm only about a year or two older than them.
    I've found that by asserting my authority over my library that even if they think I'm a similar age to them I don't have any problem asserting myself if I need to.
    I'm hoping that by the time I reach 40 people will actually stop IDing me when I'm out and about!


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