Chapter 1--Are You Old Enough to Be a Teacher?
"Are you even old enough to teach?" Yes, that is the top question asked by my students' parents when they meet me at Back-to-School Night.
I want to say, "Nope," and just leave it at that. "Nope." Then smile pretty, and walk away. I mean, really? What do they expect me to say? Big surprise though, I pull out my big professional words, give a courteous laugh, and reply, "Haha (insert I-AGREE-THAT'S-FUNNY-SMILE), I am. I'm 31." Wait for giant gasp from parent. "Haha (smile), I get that all the time (smile)."
I then proceed to convince the other same-age grown-ups that I am, indeed, capable of educating their offspring. How many years I have been teaching. Where I went to college. My Masters in Administration degree. Military experience. Grew up in New Jersey. Have an epileptic dog. I like sauerkraut. The list goes on. What information would you like to prove that I am of age?
Every year since I was a post-college 22-year-old, I have had to validate my ability to teach at my ridiculously young age. I know I look young. Very young. I know I am short. As short as my 6th-graders. Actually, shortER than most of my sixth-graders. I know I look like I am the same age as most middle-schoolers. But it makes me laugh every year when I am reminded by parents, by friends, by bosses, by other teachers, and by strangers that I look too young to teach.
This year, I believe I will wear a T-shirt to Middle School Back-to-School Night. On it will be displayed the obvious information needed to prove myself.
"Ask my principal if she hired any teachers under the age of 12."
Seriously, I do not look like I am twelve years old.
I look sixteen.