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Tips for Young Teachers

Updated: Sep 24, 2023


Students walking down a hall

Most of my experiences throughout my teaching career thus far have been in classrooms with students who have been within 5 years of my own age. This is because I teach adult students (18+).


Being a young teacher or a young looking teacher can make establishing a teacher presence more difficult than it already is. However, there are a few ways to make this process easier and that is what we'll be discussing today.

 

Dress Professionally

Professional clothing for a teacher involves avoiding torn jeans or t-shirts, inappropriate slogans on shirts, miniskirts, tops with plunging necklines, crop tops, low rise jeans and pants, flip flops, and old running shoes. Essentially, almost anything your students may wear.


It is possible to wear sandals, skirts, and t-shirts while still looking professional. Some older teachers can get away with wearing jeans, but jeans on an already young teacher may only cause you to blend in with the students you teach. During my practicum, I wore a lot of cardigans, appropriate length dresses, and stayed away from jeans as much as possible.

Yellow flats

You can wear heels or dress shoes if you like, but teachers are on their feet a lot. It may be better to choose a more practical option. I wore black running shoes, but flats are also an option.


By dressing in this manner, not only will you appear professional, but it will also help separate you from the students you teach. They will recognize just from looking at how you present yourself, that you are clearly not a student but a teacher.


Teacher fashion, even with the rules, can be quite creative. If you're unsure what to wear, look at the teachers around you for some inspiration, ask some teachers what they typically wear, and look online as well. Also, double check what your specific practicum regarding professional attire. They may differ from the ones mentioned here.

I have heard young male teachers, who can, have found success in growing facial hair when trying to look older.

Speak Formally

The feedback I was often given during my practicum was about how soft spoken I can be and how I need to enunciate more.


I am naturally soft spoken and have been told by friends and family that I tend to mumble when I speak. This soft spoken nature of mine makes me seem shy and uncertain instead of giving me authoritative presence.


While reflecting on what I could do to improve, I recognized the way I spoke was quite informal. I often used words such as cool and you guys instead of okay/alright and everyone. It is definitely an ingrained habit of mine, but changing the volume of my voice and the register I speak in is important for my presence as a teacher.



Older teachers may be able to get away with using some slang, but as a young teacher avoid using slang and/or informal language as much as possible. It goes without saying, but obviously avoid vulgar language, curse words, and any other harmful and/or offensive language as well.


Don't be Afraid to be Stern

It is important to always be respectful with students, but it's also important that students know you deserve that same respect.


If you are being disrespected by students based on your age, politely but sternly remind them that you are not their friend or their peer, you are their teacher and need to be treated as such. Disrespectful behaviour should not be tolerated.


When students ask about your age or things that date you (When did you graduate?), you can politely refuse to answer the question by saying "That is a personal question".




This will not be an issue for every young teacher. A lot of it depends on what age range you teach. Thankfully, my practicum students, who were all adult learners, were always respectful with me, regardless of my age.

 

For more teaching tips, click through the posts listed below.


For any questions or tips you may want to share, leave them in the comments below.


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