Forums / New Teachers / How to Start Off as a Teacher

New Teachers

How to Start Off as a Teacher

Author Post
Dominique Lemanek Dominique Lemanek 40 Points

Hello, I am currently a third-year at the University of California, Berkeley and I want to get into teaching. I have applied to multiple teaching programs for my time after college, but I'm worried that I look too young to be taken seriously as a teacher. How did those of you who also started teaching at a younger age gain the respect of students who may not be much younger than you?  Thanks, Dominique

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92369 Points

If you are going to teach in high school, you must not be friends with your students. Do not follow on social media or share what your weekend plans are. Great advice was given in the previous post. Hold yourself to a different standard by being the professional. Do not allow students to cross the line when it comes to how they can address you and speak to you.

Cassie Smith Cassie Smith 835 Points

Hi Dominique!

I just completed my student teaching in 6th grade and I was 22, turning 23. Just be confident. Don't be best friends with your students. But trust me, students in middle school have no concept of age. They thought I was 30 as a student teacher. Be present with them, but also allow them to be students without you around them all the time. If you respect them, I promise they will also respect you. Good luck teaching! You'll be great. 

Courtney Brown Courtney Brown 801 Points

I have went through this working as a substitute. It is very hard to work under teachers who are much older than you, older, more 'seasoned' per say. I had to break through my lack of confidence and know that I am smart enough to do what I need to do and teach my students. I am working in elementary so I have not had the experience with high schoolers, but I have also worked in middle school and found that the students were the same size as me. I have went through the 'dont smile until christmas' approach and in some instances I found that it worked - others not so much. 


Overall, be confident and you can do it! Stand your ground. You can do it! 

Ashalenia Graham Ashalenia Graham 985 Points

Hello! I am also a university student majoring in teaching.  My degree is for elementary school, however I also teach swim and I teach adults not much younger and even sometimes older than myself.  I find that finding things that the both of us know and can relate to can help, as well as having confidence.  I think that people assume at times because I am young that I lack certain skills, however I make sure to prove myself through my teaching.  As long as I know that I am a good teacher, it shows confidence and leads to people having respect for me.  I hope this helps.

Gabe Kraljevic Gabe Kraljevic 4564 Points

If you are thinking of teaching early or middle years you will look old to them! I have told new and student teachers that they should envision what their 'perfect' class would look like: what are the students doing? How are they interacting? What are you doing? If you have that vision and make all your decisions based on what fits into that vision, students will see you as their educational leader. I also discourage trying to make them all like you - that is counter-productive in my opinion and a big mistake. Maintain your classroom with consistency and develop a caring attitude toward the students and you will not have any problems. Well...ok...maybe a few! But we all do! Hope this helps!

Lauren Redfern Lauren Redfern 190 Points

Mrs. Dupre,

I cannot address this question with personal experience since I am currently in my junior year in college; however, in my sorority we had a couple of teachers come and address some questions with my group and this was one of the questions that was asked. A majority of the teachers at the questioning panel were saying that building ground rules with students along with building up that relationship with them will earn respect, while some might still try to intimidate, keeping a solid foot on the ground is a good way to go.

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92369 Points

I'm not sure if you are asking me a question or sharing what you learned from other teachers. Maybe I should clarify what I am trying to share. Yes you need to build rapport and a relationship/culture of trust and caring. When I say, do not be friends with your students, I mean your relationship has to be professional and you can not fraternize with students outside of school or school functions. 

I very much agree with what the teachers responses were. You, as the teacher, are in charge. Be consistent, firm, and fair. Students will try to push the boundaries to see what they can get away with. How you handle those that cross the boundaries will be scrutinized by your students and show them what kind of behavior you will or will not accept. Good luck to you. I think you will do well based on your reflection of such an important aspect of teaching. 


Erica Herold Erica Herold 735 Points

Hello, Cal Alumni here (Go Bears!) I accepted my first teaching job in a middle school when I was 27, and let me tell you... those guys have no concept of the differences in adult ages. Even now, they'll try to guess my age, and I get guesses from 22 to 50. I haven't run into any issues with my age as they all see me as an 'adult' not a 'child.'

If you're thinking about teaching high school, they may recognize you're younger than some of the other teachers, but I doubt many of them will see you as a peer. 

The other people on this post have already weighed in on the obvious pieces of advice that you should consider to keep yourself safe and not accidently encourage friendships and unprofessional relationships.

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers