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Generation Gap


In her article "Old Enough to Teach," first-year teacher Erin Reed says young teachers are not always made to feel welcome by their more experienced colleagues. She writes that teachers at her school cast doubt on her teaching style. "No one wants to take a 20-something teacher seriously when she acts her age," said Reed. "While my elementary students appreciate my age, my colleagues don't. My pigtails and flip-flops don't fit into this new world." Reed feels that she has had to work twice as hard to gain professional acceptance.

What's your view? Is there a teacher generation gap at your school? Are experienced teachers too hard on novices? How can veteran teachers make newcomers feel welcome? What can new teachers do to gain a greater level of trust?


Ms. Reed's homework assignment: Watch "What Not To Wear" on The Learning Channel. OFTEN. One thing the host stylists emphasize is that attire and grooming appropriate to one's age and professional position does NOT have to mean looking "old and stuffy." As long as Ms. Reed continues to show up for class in "pigtails and flip-flops," is anyone surprised that she will continue "[to not] fit into this new [professional] world."

All the enthusiasm and talent in the world will not make up Ms. Reed's attempt to cling to her teens in appearance and affect. That otherwise serious-minded teachers -- and professionals in other industries -- so desperately attempt to project an INAPPROPRIATELY youthful affect which actually DETRACTS from their real energies and accomplishments is just one more sad legacy of the 1960s and the youth-obsessed "Boomers" those troubled times have foisted upon the rest of us for all the increasingly troubled decades since.

Given this legacy, among others, I am ASHAMED to be a Boomer (albeit born in the very last six months of that era as defined by demographers) -- Spike

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with Ms. Reed’s attire or attitudes. Her purpose in the classroom is to motivate her students to seek their learning potential, and it sounds as if she is doing just that. It is not her function to “fit-in” with her colleagues. Student learning is the goal. In the article, it sounds as if her students feel comfortable with her and in her classroom. I appreciate those who feel comfortable enough with themselves to “Buck the system.”

I received my teaching degree (BS) in 2003 and, began my first full-time teaching job in 2005. I was an adult student in college (mid and upper 30s), and was raising 4 children. I was definitely older than the average student, but not necessarily wiser. I appreciated and tried to adopted the youthful enthusiasm of my fellow classmates, and have worked hard to keep hold of it and express it with my students. Because I am an old fogy, I frequently ask my teenage children about what’s cool and what’s not. From my experience (albeit only a few years), my students seem to value a teacher who is more interested in ensuring that they understand are learning than a teacher who “put on airs.”

My advice to Ms. Reed: Continue to do what you know works for you and your students. Be confident in you skills as a teacher and don’t worry if someone does not like your pigtails and flip-flops.

After being in the profession for a decade, I am inclined to tell Erin to keep her head up! I have worked in six different buildings and three states due to my husband's career moves, and I can tell you from first hand experience that teachers can be rude! If she didn't have flip-flops and pigtails, some teachers (and people in general) would find something else to fault her for! Why? Many teachers get stagnant, do not attend professional development (especially technology trainings), and do not like change! Teachers feel threatened by younger more up-to-date teachers. We are territorial, and some of us want to out-do everyone else! I never understood this mentality. I was trained that colleagues share everything: ideas, paperwork, classroom mangagement, frustrations, and lesson plans! If Erin feels like she doesn't fit in, she probably will never fit in at that building. I encourage her to find a building she is comfortable with and enjoy her career. I, too, worked in a building like the one described. I did not fit in because I am not a direct-instruction type of teacher. I decided to leave that building and found one that is the perfect match with my teaching style and philosophy. I do agree with Ms. Angle; you need to lose the flip flops, but keep the pig tails!

Erin, keep your head up and stay true to who you are. Not all schools have the same atmosphere as that you have experienced so far. I have taught at three different schools and have been teaching for ten years. As a teacher, if we care about our students and want to reach them then we need to be able to communicate with them. Students can tell when you are a fake so you have to do what is comfortable for you. Teachers get their students attention in many ways as you observed as a student yourself. One of the things that you have going for you currently is your youth. In my current school, we welcome new teachers, young and not so young. It is been our experience, that as long as new teachers are mentored, they bring a lot of new ideas and are willing to try new things. I love to surround myself with the kind of individuals that are willing to do what ever is best for kids. That is why we are in the classroom. So remember what is important and try to find yourself a support group (teachers who have the same teaching philosophy as yourself) then it won't matter to you so much and you will have a group that values your ideas and input.
Being a flip flop wearer myself, I would reconsider wearing them daily (I wear them twice a week). When you speak with administrators or parents, your goal is get them to respect you as the "expert" in what you are speaking with them about. For some individuals, it is hard to get them to take you seriously if you are not professionally dressed. You can find comfortable shoes (flipflop like) that are profressional if you look around.
It is a shame that Erin was made to feel like she did not belong when she obviously cares about her students. This is one of the reasons that there are problems retaining teachers in the profession.
Good Luck Erin and remember why you became a teacher.

I totally identify with Erin. There is a thin line between the novice teachers and the veteran teachers. I was at an advantage when i started teaching because my school had such a high turnover rate and I came into the school year with 13 other teachers. Most of use were first year teachers, so we all identified well together. The veteran teachers in our building were grateful to have us there and we loved them for their wisdom. They loved our new ideas and the fact that we would work late to get the job done. It was a happy balance. However, we were constantly reminded of the fact that we were "just babies." I remember attending district meetings and people actually walking up to me asking my age. I could not believe it. I remember always thinking, gosh Mrs. Veteran Teacher was 21 when she started teaching, I'm 23, so why is she giving me all this grief! Keep your head up
Erin and if the building can't appreciate your youthfulness, than find one that will.

Erin, I can see the problem you might have with your colleagues. But, I must say that I have the exact opposite problem. I graduated college and became a new teacher at age 49. I found that the younger teachers (in their 20s) don't accept the older teachers. They just don't "belong". So, I must tell you it feels the same from the other side. My principal purposely made sure that in our grade level the three teachers had similarities in background, age, etc. so that working together would come a lot easier.

Good luck, Erin. Youth is ON YOUR SIDE, not against you.

Don't be intimidated by teachers who may have many more years of experience. They may not be 'better' teachers. Consider the fact that you received your teacher training in an era that is focused on the science of teaching-not on ideology. Look at the state of literacy in this country and you will see how thirty years of students who were not served well. Your style is your style and it will evolve as you put together the methods and approaches that make you a more effective teacher.

In 2005 I graduated from college with a degree in Spanish (but not education). I accepted my first teaching job at a private school that fall teaching advanced level Spanish while the "veteran teacher" was on sabatical. In fact, this was the same high school I had attended as a student, so many of my colleagues were former teachers of mine! I felt more uncomfortable with my appearance, manner of speech, and age than my colleagues ever let me feel. Despite many of them having me in their classroom just a few years back, they always treated me like a professional. Likewise, I have always tried to act like a professional while still being myself. I listen to the same music as my students, but I use that to my advantage by keeping an ear out for Spanish versions and using them to teach vocabulary, grammar, and culture if applicable. (For example, Beyonce is going to be releasing a CD recorded in Spanish.) I agree with Sherri: it may depend on the school you are at. Although I still have many people outside the school (even parents sometimes) who seem to look down on me because I look like I could be in high school, I have never felt that way in school. Sometimes I have felt that I have to try to act different from my students, but it turns out that being myself (while remaning professional in the right situation & constantly prepared) is always the right choice. Students will respect you for that.

I finished up my first year of teaching this past May. I wear a dress shirt, slacks and a tie, every day. With Great Expectations and Kagan, we have lots of fun in my classroom, but my students also know they are there to do a job. One Friday, I thought I would go more casual and skipped the tie. I was surprised that my students noticed, and the climate in the room that day was very different. Students didn't want to give me their best, and I didn't want to give them my best. Many people still don't see teachers as professionals. I believe much of the lack of respect teachers get is precisely because of jeans and flip-flops any day of the week. They don't dress any differently on Monday than they did over the weekend. That makes it difficult to get the respect you deserve. There is a teacher on my team who wears sleeveless blouses with her bra straps hanging out both sides, and she just looks sloppy and not put together all the time. Don't expect to be treated like a professional, if you don't look the part.

I read this article and remember the words of wisdom Dr. Dee Beasley of UCF gave all of us before we entered the profession of teaching and those words were, "If you want to be seen as a professional, then dress the part and stay away from the teacher's lounge because veteran teachers can bring you down quickly." I've taught in both private, Catholic school and in public school and I'll be entering my 7th year in the profession this fall. I remember during my senior internship, my mentor teacher telling me, "You can't use crayons and markers with high school kids,it's too elementary." I just decided in my mind that well, she was the kind of close-minded teacher I never wanted to become. Not to persecute all veteran teachers because anyone who has been in this professfion for any length of time should recall that we all only improve with time and as a reading coach, I've asked several veterans to take new teachers under their wings, guide them, and give them room to fly on their own. I always keep close to my own heart how isolated and scary the first year of teaching can be and I try to remind all of my new teachers that the first year of teaching in a classroom of your own is strictly about survival: learning to make lesson plans and teach the provided curriculum, understanding classroom management, dealing with parents in various capacities, and understanding the inner workings of a school. My general rule of thumb is that it takes three years to become a great teacher. Your first year is to learn from, your second year is to correct your mistakes and improve on your methods and your third year and beyond are to become a master teacher. I plead with Erin to ask all veteran teachers to remember what it felt like to be the "new kid on the block" and to extend a helping hand to new teachers and show them what you've learned along the way but also remember that they must make mistakes and learn on their own as well. I remember when I was 23 being told by a parent, "Well, you don't have a child of your own so you don't understand." At that time, I wasn't a parent yet but I absolutely had children, I had about 95 of them for 8 hours a day, 180 days of the year and I knew their friends, their enemies, their interests, their passions, their dreams, and their hopes and I remember thinking, "So don't tell me I don't know because I probably understand more clearly than you." Although I kept those thoughts to myself and maintained my professionalism. My heart goes out to Erin; here is my advice: Be as professional as you can, be a teacher and role model to your students- not a friend, and seek out those veteran teachers who will listen, who will open their classroom doors to you, and will guide and befriend you as you enter the greatest profession in the universe!

In 20 years, Erin will wish youth were her problem! Won't we all?

With 13 years experience, I switched schools last year. I did additional training to be a group leader for upcoming teams and was told at the leadership training that I would not be leading my grade level team (in spite of attending training, having taken graduate courses in assessment and my being the only one with previous experience on this kind of team.) Why? My chair decided a new hire next fall should lead because "She is older than you."

My point is this -- even at 35, I am "too young" for some people. At my age and experience, however, I feel less compelled to try to "fit in" -- especially when I am being judged on something over which I have no control. I've had excellent teaching evaluations and my students have earned high state test scores despite my "youth." Sadly, these factors seem to have no effect on how leadership positions are awarded in my new district.

My chair's statement, reinforced something with which I was already concerned: my being employed at such a traditional school, one where age and seniority are everything, might limit my opportunities. I see myself as being at the height of my career. My chair and administrators see me as "new and too young."

I encourage Erin to be less concerned with people liking her hair and shoes and more with whether their opinion of her appearance is indicative of an underlying attitude against change that might stifle her career. Will her environment afford her the freedom to develop as a professional? Sadly, even at 35, I find myself asking the same question.

Oh, Erin. What you have run into is the "Status Quo." Teachers work very hard to protect their isolation. They don't want attention. Attention means someone is watching you. If they isolate themselves, then they can do what they want when they want. That's the way they survive in an industry that treats teachers like administrative assistants. Accountability? I hate that word. It implies that teachers are not doing their jobs. Most are.

Making you feel like you aren't good enough is a product of how the industry makes teachers feel in general. It's very disfunctional. Try not to catch the infection. Consider what you're going through as a type of hazing. Eventually, you will stop trying to please experienced teachers and concentrate on what you are doing in your own classroom. Then you will learn to isolate yourself from them because they are so negative and the cycle will continue.

Make sure you develop a life outside of teaching with regular people.

Ms. Reed,
I am also a fairly new teacher; although I did not start teaching till age 56!!! My advice to you and other "New" teachers as well, is to ACT LIKE YOU NEED veteran teacher's help. Ask for their advice ... then use what you learned in school! There is new research out and the veterns don't like change!!!

If one wants to be treated as a professional, one needs to act and dress as a professional. Do you really expect respect from students and parents, let alone others in the profession when you are not portraying yourself as a professional?

I have been an educator for 14 years and in no way fit the definition of a traditional teacher. I think it is important to identify and implement a variety of strategies and practices that focus on the different learning styles of our increasingly diverse learners in order to promote student achievement. I recall being reprimanded by my department chair just three years ago when I transfered from middle school to high school because I did not teach in the "traditional" sense. Here I was, a master veteran teacher with a great track record, being shot down for having a nontraditional approach to teaching and learning. And many of those nontraditional strategies have been supported by educational research. This department chair confused the movement, group activities, authentic forms of assessment,role playing, and even nonlinguistic activities as nonproductive chaos. But my students were learning ... my test scores were increasing ... and parents were requesting to have their children placed in my class. So, I don't think it is necessarily about "youth", but it is more about "teaching style" that cause some feel threatened. So, I would encourage you to continue to teach in nonconventional ways, as long as what you are doing is what is best for students and promotes rigor for all ... and as long as your data shows that learning is taking place and your students are mastering the standards, concepts,and skills that are a part of your curriculum. On a different note,I would tell you to be careful with the way you dress. Districts are required by the state to develop, implement, and uphold student dress code policies that ensure mininum distruptions of the learning process and that ensure safety. Flip flops do pose a safety threat. While there may not be a specified dress code for me, per se, if my students' dress code prohibits my students from wearing "thong" type shoes, I want to model that as well ... or else I would be going back to the "old school" philosophy that says "do what I say and not as I do..." I see myself as a role model for my students. By the way, does your school require professional dress? If so, it would be to your advantage to comply and not take it as a personal attack.

Sorry, Erin. It is not just about pig tials and flip flpos; it's about professionalism. Would you get a loan from a bank dressed like that? I am not that old (late 30s), but in the past few years I have seen a change with the student teachers coming in to my building. Very low rise pants with thongs sticking out and large tatoos emblazoned across the back. I have no problem with any of those 3 things outside of the classroom, but I don't think it is appropriate at school. To see you wear flip flops in the last few weeks of school or on occasion is probably no big deal. But all the time? I would suggest that if you would like to be taken a little more seriously, you look like you are serious about what you do. (And I assume you are.) Please don't negotiate my next contract for me dressed like that!

I am a new teacher at the age of 44. I experience the generation gap in my graduate program, and feel excluded by younger new teachers. I would hope that we, as teachers, can respect, appreciate and accept our differences -- just as we ought to be teaching our students to do -- and understand that it can only benefit children to be taught by a variety of adults with a variety of ages, personalities and interests. We are supposed to be encouraging children to explore and learn, so let's start by exploring and learning about each other. Be yourself, Erin -- that's the best each of us can do, and it's certainly good enough.

I have the opposite problem. I started a teaching career at age 40 and most teachers in my building are in their 20's. I think overall we get along well, but I do feel old and out of place with the young single teachers.

I am now 55 and have been teaching 35 years. I got my first teaching job 3 mos. after I turned 21. The teachers I met that first year are still my friends today. In fact, I had lunch with a group of them just yesterday! I am still "the baby" of the group! :)
I remember that first year that one of the teachers was turning 29--I thought she was so old! Betty, who is now 70 something, was one of the most friendly and caring people I have ever worked with. They all were! I think a lot of it has to do with the attitude you project. I admired them and respected them for their experience and I think I reflected that with my interactions without coming out and saying it.
I have worked with many 1st year teachers, and have loved their enthusiasm and idealism--we all need both no matter how long we have taught.
I do have to say, however, that on occasion, I have seen younger teachers come into the profession and act like they have nothing to learn from anyone who has been in this profession for a while. Personally, I feel that they will realize they don't, and if they are intelligent, will want to seek advice and counsel. Most older teachers tend to be happy to accomodate.
I still love what I do, and even though we all experience classes that drive us crazy, or even years when we ask ourselves why we decided to become teachers, those of us who were destined for this life still love it.

Most of us have had a stint as "the cool, young teacher." It passes. I can remember exactly when I stopped dressing like they did, listening to the same music they listened to, and the movies and TV shows they watched stopped being entertaining. I felt old, but more importantly, I had to develop new ways to connect the things I loved (reading and writing) to their lives that weren't dependent on popular adolescent culture.
What was hardest in my "youthful teaching" was the attitude among the administration and staff that "she's young and single, have her do it." My time was just as valuable to me then as it is now, and I resented being the one who had pick up extra duties and sponsorships just because I was "young and single."

I find the younger teachers in our district to be energetic and engaging. I'm sorry that Erin Reed has had such a negative experience. I wish she included a blog site or e-mail address...I'd like to point her to some of the excellent educational blogs, some of them posted by "newbies" going through some of the career ups and downs that Erin has written about.

Adopting a professional look will help immensely for numerous reasons. You can look stylish and your age without resorting to a matronly look or spending big bucks. You'll be amazed at how it makes you feel internally and how you'll be received by your colleagues.

Sorry, but looks do matter and if you want to be taken and treated professionally, look the part. Maybe it will encourage your colleagues with equally sloppy appearances to improve their look. I've noticed over the years that many teachers come to school dressed like they're on their way to the gym or they've just come from a slumber party.

When I started reading R Armstrong's response I thought it was my best friend, R Armstrong, except that he's 57. Our experiences are the same. Intelligent people have things to share no matter what their ages. However, I too have had the experience of being ignored or taken for granted. This past year we had an opportunity to choose teachers we'd like to observe. Despite 31 years of experience, no one stopped in. Luckily, what really matters is how well one prepares students for the next level, and they are extremely grateful, motivated and even entertained. It's just a shame my peers don't appreciate what's happening down in room 160.

As one who doesn't look her age, nor always act it, I think Erin's youthfulness could be an asset. What she needs to do is not necessarily "look" so young (flip-flops and pigtails), but keep her youth in her spirit of teaching in the classroom. IF her students are learning, isn't that what truly matters? The other teachers should take notes and not be so stuffy. I would hope that just because she's young and new, they aren't holding that agianst her, and are showing her respect for the fact that she is a colleague.

New teachers tend to have a stand-off attitute and project a know it all type of demeanor. Veteran teachers often feel rejected and overshadowed by these teachers. The new kids on the block get the attention of administrators and visitors in the school.

I think that administrators need to do more in order for this not to happen. New teachers can be assigned to a veteran teacher for support. A coffee and session with veteran teachers so that they get to know each other and exchange idea will help.

I do believe that teachers need to be professional and look professional. It's not always about age. Another teacher I work with is around my age (forty-something) yet wears clothing many consider to be too casual for the position she is in. I think that we should look more professional as teachers. We need to be role models for our students. Many students never see anyone dressed up any more even when attending church. If they don't attend a traditional church, chances are they don't dress up any time in their life.
Dressing professionally does not mean that we can't still connect with our students in many ways. I don't listen to their music or watch the same movies (I do watch some of the same tv shows) but my students know that I care about them and then they care about me (mostly). You'll never be able to connect with every student simply because personalities are so different. But you can learn to educate each individual by using the many methods learned in education classes. It's true that many older teachers have the "we've done it before" attitude and are afraid to try new things and so criticise you. Part of the responsibility for this attitude must come from those in charge of education. We've seen many changes occuring, some of which do come and go very quickly. Teachers get weary of trying something new only to be told the next year that they must now try something else new. True, the "something else" may be the thing that helps them establish a winning classroom, but some get tired of trying.

After 17 years of teaching I still think education is the BEST job in the whole world, but many are simply waiting it out until they can retire.

I just finished my 5th year of teaching; it was my best with the students, but very challenging with the 2 young teachers I had to work with. Iam in my 40's and having 2 teenagers of my own, feel very in touch w/today's youth. I did my best to compliment the new teachers. They made many comments about the "old" teachers that were disrespectful. New people in any profession have so much to learn from the veterans, it's a shame that the new teachers weren't open-minded; they could have learned a lot, as I did. I was also concerned that these younger teachers seemed more concerned with wanting to have fun and be liked by their students at the expense of teaching them about being respectful and learning. I believe thatall things can be accomplished when in balance. My goal is to teach and help students progress; not to be the favorite teacher. When I look back at who my favorite teachers were as a student, I now realize they weren't teaching me what they should have. I teach and treat my students as I would my own children. Many times I thought that these younger teachers weren't willing to do their job vs have fun!

I am in the middle of the rat race with eight years of teaching experience and a 30 something. I agree with most of what everyone in prior posts. I think you will learn overtime that you will need to tighten your reigns and that if you want the respect of your vetern teachers you will have to work your way up the ladder. It doesn't matter what your field you will have start at the bottom and work your way up the professional ladder. Developmentally as a teacher, you will gain the respect when it is time.

I read the comments from several people before I responded. Yes, "keep your head up", you are probably much more energetic and innovative than your veteran teachers who are your teammates. However, flip flops are inappropriate and lessen the professional job you do. Please set a good example for your students-they can't wear them can they?

First, let me say that in order to be taken as a professional, one must act like one, not like a student.

Second, I have quite the opposite problem. I'm 52 years old, an age when most people have retired from teaching. Old enogh to retire, yes, and also fairly new to teaching. The "younguns" seem to be afraid to mentor me while those my age seem to think I know it all. I don't. (I worked at one school for 6 months before I found out there was a teachers' bathroom.)Adminstrations, for some reason, don't seem to want an older teacher. Perhaps they think I'm out of date. Considering I finished my BS in 2000 and a Masters in 2006, I don't think so.

Personally, I think it's time to really look at the individual and stop making assumptions.

Is there a gap? Of course, there always has been. I am a veteran teacher. I have never met a first year that was "stand offish" energetic ready to conquer the world. Veteran teachers know that the first year is the hardest and they let newbies crash and burn instead of protect and help. I love new teachers at my school, they liven up the program with new ideas and energy.
Veteran teachers need to give it up that they are better because of time, or experience or whatever. A new teachers need to see that veteran teachers are dedicated or they wouldn't be veteran teachers.
I think this the problem with education as a whole. No appreciates the postives of the others. We want our students to do it, but most teachers don't model it that I have seen in the teacher's lounge.

I believe that Vetern teachers treat "new" teachers poorly period. It does not matter their age. I joined the education world as a second career. I was a chemist for over 20 years. This did not matter. I knew nothing, if you asked the other teachers. Anyway, that is the impression I got by the way they cut me off before I finished a sentence about anything.

Young people need to know how to present themselves in the work world professionally regardless of their position. Pigtails and flip flops would get you fired before you get on the elevator at IBM and other places.

As the author of this piece I must say that I am quite pleased to have sparked such a lively, intellectual debate. I also feel the need to add in my two cents. I truly appreciate all of the supportive people who keep telling me to keep my head up and please know that I fully intend to. I feel, as I'm sure most of you do as well, my calling in life is to teach. At this point, I don't think I will ever lose my enthusiasm or my drive. I love my job, and I love the fact that my students respond to me in the way that they do. I am sorry that some feel the need to try and push everyone into this cookie cutter mold of what a teacher is supposed to look like and/or how they are supposed to act. I was hired just the way I am, with no stipulations on my wardrobe or manner. I am happy in my job and plan to keep my nose to the grindstone and keep plowing through. I also intend to welcome any new educators that come my way no matter what they look like or how they act. We should all ban together because we are all working toward the same goal, meaningful education for our students. I hope that we all work to keep that in mind.

I have been teaching for eighteen years and I started this profesion in my early forties. I have the pleasure of teaching next door to a teacher in her late twenties. We work together gracefully. She wears silly clothing and I am more conservative- yet we are able to bridge the generational differences to serve the children we are there for. I expect her to be "who she is"- I was at her age and am now-so what? We work together very well- I respect her and she respects me. I would never profess to know everything no matter how long I've been around! In every job, you will find people who are stand-off-ish and selfserving. Too bad for them- they are the ones who lose out. Don't be afraid of knowing someone just because they have been around longer or not as long as you- isn't that why we're called life long learners?

Truth be told: education is for the young at heart, not for the old in ways. It is a shame to find that many "veteran" teachers do not provide the expected support to new teachers, for whatever reason they may have. Nonetheless, the "division" that is seen within the teaching community is rarely seen in other professional communities. Why is this? Are the veteran teachers feeling the tremendous gap between them and their students? Do these "veterans" feel the "younger" teachers, (whether in experience or age), owe them something? Teachers should learn from each other, not compete for students' and parents' approval or attention. The only way we CAN make a difference inside the classroom is modeling it OUTSIDE the classroom. Remember, you are only considered a teacher if you are willing to share knowledge. Why don't we start with our colleagues? Show them the support we may have needed in our beginnings. And if we DO need to criticize....let it be constructive. DON'T CHANGE, ERIN! If your students are learning, MORE POWER TO YOU!!!

I will be starting my 30th year of teaching this
September...it still blows my mind that I've been doing this so long and still love it! I think the reason I continue to enjoy teaching after all these years is because I love to learn....always have.
I really feel for Erin and other new teachers. I, too, have worked with "veterans" who think they know it all and have become very territorial when it comes to sharing. I have mentored many new teachers and can honestly say I have learned as much from them as I hope they have from this "old timer"! I believe that it is up to the principal to set the tone for creating a true community of professional educators at the school. Veteran teachers should be appreciated for all they have to offer, but the younger teachers should be valued for the "fresh blood" and enthusiasm that they bring. Erin, and all other teachers, should
stay true to their ideals and what works for them and their students. Veteran teachers need to remind themselves of how it was for them starting out, and novices need to appreciate and respect the years that veterans have contributed.And most of all, every member of the school staff should share the common mission and purpose for being there---how can we best help our kids to learn? It's all about principles, not personalities.

I am very happy and full interested with your programs and i would like to extend this programmes in Kenya-Africa. May be our students can benefit from your institution.

As an old timer in teaching, going on thirty years, I have worked with many young teachers. One in particular also wears flip-flops pretty frequently. She is a natural born teacher and is well-respected by her peers. However, if she were to wear pigtails, I take that to mean one on either side of the head, I might have trouble getting beyond her childlike appearance and see all the great ideas she has. I agree with other responses - you need to look professional to be taken professionally. One superintendent felt we should dress every day as though we were going to an interview. I think that's a bit much when working with primary grades but the point is that you need to dress for success. After all, you are modeling for our future leaders how they should present themselves. Even though you seem to be successful in teaching I do wonder how much more you could get from your students if they were looking at someone who represented self-respect as an adult.

I am a 45 year old-2nd year teacher. I was previously an operations manager for a major motorcoach company. I relocated and changed my career choice. I love teaching and use every avenue I can to improve. I have just read the book "How to Be An Effective Teacher, The First Days of School by Harry & Rosemary Wong. Unit B- Chapter 8 discusses how to "Dress for Success". You don't have to dress like an "old maid", but if your student's percieve you as their role model instead of their peer, your success with the children's academic achievement will greatly improve and that is the most important thing.

How sad that Ms. Reed should find her first teaching experience in such a non-collaborative environment, where she is not looked at as a valuable resource. I, and many of my colleagues who have 28 years or more in the educational field, always look at our new teachers as valuable resources. Our young teachers come with knowledge of current educational pedagogy, which is information that our students and we can all benefit from. While we the 'seasoned' teachers are able to share other classroom management, organizational and teaching strategies/techniques, the newer teacher provides us with current educational philosophy and trends in the field. We have very healthy debates and find their input just as valuable as they find ours. Have Ms. Reed's colleagues forgotten what it was like when they first started out? In an era where the gap in teacher retention rate is widening rapidly, one would think to be more collaborative and welcoming of our new teachers, so they too will discover the long-term joys of teaching!

I came to elementary teaching after a career in business as an energetic, intelligent, eclectic 40-something. In my building of about 40 teachers, I found the old guard to be threatened, territorial, judgmental and unwelcoming, the 20-somethings were largely an ill-mannered clique who did not acknowledge they had anthing to learn from anyone, they also failed to understand that flip-flops, low rise pants and visible thongs are unprofessional and inappropriate. Perhaps perceptions will change over time, but I daresay most people still believe that skin below the belly button and above above the knees should be covered in professional environments. Appearances matter an awful lot, just look at who gets promoted and/or appointed to important committees, they are not wearing flip flops and pigtails. Now maybe you don't care at all about that but you must recognize it as fact. After a few years I requested a transfer to a higher grade level and another building, I have found the environment to be much more collegial, professional and accepting of individuals in terms of age, backround and styles in teaching and in dress (however flipflops and lowrise pants are still considered unprofessional by all). An underlying issue here is that there is a "new teacher hazing" that definitely exists. I saw teachers of all ages participate in it and it is nothing less than cruel. I agree with Ms. Schels, much of this discord should be managed by the principal/administrator who is responsible for creating a school culture that fosters learning as well as acceptance by all, that includes teachers.

We live in an ageist, conformist, and egotistical society where sadly, so many judge and criticize rather than open themselves to whatever the new possibilities may be. We like status quo, no matter what we say; and we are fearful and critical of whatever we perceive as a threat to our comfort zone. Ironically, as educators, our rimary responsibility is to be and do whatever may be necessary to allow those around us to come out into the ight and flourish, for that is, after all, despite its new-agey sound, the classical definition of education. Plato's allegory ofthe cave was not just a silly story. If we are not able to embrace each other a who we are, allow and assist with each other's development as human beings and teachers, than how on earth are we to ever be and do what we must do so that the younger generation of students and teachers can move on out of the status quo cave and use their voices and gifts to develop themselves and change this mired world too many of us perceive out there? Everything within and around us changes as a constant... when we be able to take a breath and stop seeing limitations and barriers everywhere and let all the dynamism of a changing and growing universe into our own lives and embrace this process? NOW is the only time that exists. Carpe Diem, ya know?

If one wants to be taken seriously/professionally, part of that is to appear professional. Pigtails and flip-flops are for the beach. When she applied and interviewed for the position, did she dress that way? When you can't tell the teacher from the students, it's time for the teacher to grow up.

First I want to say that when you are in your twenties you are GROWN. I hate when people think that you are not, but then some people in their twenties like for people to treat them differently like a child. If you are wearing pigtails that screams do not take me serious. Children will take any body who's on charge serious even if its a teenage, so the kids are not concerned about your age. If you act like an adult you will be treated like one.

If it makes you feel anybetter, your appearance would prevent you from working at Walt Disney World, The Ritz-Carlton, Universal Orlando, Sea World, and as a construction worker.

If you want to be treated and respected as a professional, dress like one.

We "experienced" teachers have seen too many "young" teachers come into the profession to continue their youth or while looking for something else.

Most importantly, if you care about teaching,close your door, teach your students and don't worry about what others think. Your reputation as a good teacher will win them over.

And if their approval means something too you then at leas get rid of the flip flops they are a safety issue for you and your kids.

When I entered my first class freshly out of college, at 21, my greatest challenge came from ... not my students, but my co-workers. Immediately they looked at my youthfulness and decided I was not qualified. I often heard comments like "Look what's she's doing!"...."It's not supposed to be done like that,"..... "...She'll see; or my favorite "She's expecting too much of those kids." My fresh ideas, energy, high-expectations, and belief that my students could learn and deserved to experience multiple opportunities to do so was frightening to many. It took me three years and some good test data to prove to my colleagues that I was old enough to teach. My students learned it quickly and appreciated my youth or my "coolness." Fifteen years later, I still run into my third graders, all of which who are adults now or soon to be, who remind me of all of the "FUN" things we did in my class; and who tell me I was one of the best teachers they ever had. I am not in the classroom anymore, but it is my own experience as a new young teacher that motivates me to mentor and embrace the newest crop of teachers who do bring a wealth of knowledge with their youthfulness.

Your dress and appearance is all that staff and parents have to judge you by prior to developing a reputation as a good teacher. Go to a store that specializes in business dress for young women and ask them to help you choose attire that you can mix and match for a more professional appearance. Give them a budget and they will help you upgrade your wardrobe from college student to young professional (all teachers want to be seen as professionals when salaries are discussed). Then visit a salon that provides full services and get their advice on an easy, professional look. If you doubt this advice, then ask your principal to give you some honest advice about your appearance. You can project your own style and still be professional. Look at your teacher evaluation instrument--does it evaluate you on "professionalism"?

Many veteran teachers often do not have the training, nor do they want it, to perform the job we now expect of teachers. They are threatened by recent graduates who have received their education during the era of high-stakes testing and NCLB. As an administrator of two underperforming schools, the old guard has fought the hardest to convince people that the kids can't learn because of problems they can't control (family demographics, language, ethnicity, etc.). They also have been able to convince some administrators and school board members that their own happiness is most important-not the students' learning. Sad to say, but sometimes as an educator you need to find a better "fit", rather than stay in the toxic environment that even administrators can't always overcome. Good luck with finding a supportive environment--with a little homework, it shouldn't be too difficult.

I can relate to what Erin is experiencing, only I have experienced just the opposite. I am a new "older" Teacher and I have experienced some snubbing from 20-something Teachers. It truly is ashame that some Teachers no matter what their age let their "egos" get in the way and feel threatened by "new" blood coming in. Aren't we all in this profession for the same goal? To teach?

I would like to bring up one point for all of you: no where in my article does it say that I wear pigtails and flip flops to work. I merely said that they "did not fit into this new world". I am fully aware of how to dress for success and feel that I do. I feel that as teachers we need to make an effort to be approachable to our students. I would also like to say that I am extremely happy that there are so many 2nd career teachers posting. My mother is considering becoming a teacher and your responses really empower her. Thank you all so much for your feedback and support!

First and for most you do need to look professional regardless if you are 20 or 60. Age does not matter. Sloppy is sloppy. I don't think pig tails and flipflops are sloppy.I am saying if you want to be treated professionally you need to dress the part. It is just the way life is!
Secondly, being the "older teacher" can be just as hard. Your old, you are un bending, you won't try new ideas, your not as progressive. Chin up fellow educator! It is life! We all are challenged in someway just don't let those bad apples drag you down!

Dear Erin,
The best way to be approachable to your students is to set up a classroom that demonstrates and promotes trust between you and your students. Although I believe we are role models and should always dress tastefully, more important than your appearance is the way you relate to your students and show them that you are enthusiastic about what you teach them. In our school, most of us who are baby boomers are happy and excited by the new teachers we come in contact with and are more than happy to mentor them whenever they ask for advice. It's important to reach out to those who are receptive; certainly we can learn from each other.

Flip- flops at school? What is her casual dress like if her business dress is flip flops? How will her students learn what is appropriate where if the teacher doesn't model this behavior. Has her principal ever talked to her about what's appropriate. Does she have discipline problems since she is clearly a playmate and not an adult. Business dress,teacher togs if you will, also show the children that she respects them and deserves respect in turn.

Flip- flops at school? What is her casual dress like if her business dress is flip flops? How will her students learn what is appropriate where if the teacher doesn't model this behavior. Has her principal ever talked to her about what's appropriate. Does she have discipline problems since she is clearly a playmate and not an adult. Business dress,teacher togs if you will, also show the children that she respects them and deserves respect in turn.

I think teaching is the only area where you come in wanting to be older. I went through it as a young teacher myself, and now I'm in graduate school looking for jobs as a young counselor. I agree with the idea that you have to look inside the person and truly know them before you judge and say that the individual does not have the qualifications. I know some really good young teachers, as well as some really good veteran teachers (my mom included). However, I also know some terrible first year teachers and terrible veteran teachers. I think it is all about the individual. One can't sum up the person by looking at the outside, you have to dig deeper and sense the determination and inspiration within.

Teachers are professionals, and should dress professionally. Dressing professionally shows that one takes pride in their position--elementary school teacher or otherwise. Flip-flops are OUT 100%; they are for leisure wear. Pig-tails are fine for "Farm" days; not for normal day-to-day teaching. Children need to learn to respect their teachers and the teacher dressing the role of a professional is part of it.
If you want the respect from your co-workers, then you need to earn it; and dressing "down" from the profession is not how you go about it.

Flip Flopps is taking it a bit too far. A comfortable pair of sandals better. I am not against simplicity and comfort in dress but the students need to sense the borders. Besides the fact flip flops are dangerous on stairs. Children need to sense who is the adult. It is just as parenthood. If you try to be in with the gang then respect for your position will be lost. Next thing you know feet will be up on the desk, gum will be popping...etc. Children are learning how to be social beings and need guidance through example.
As far as the disrespectful teachers, I will tell you that in nursing there is a famous saying "nurses eat their young" and it is true for a new yet experienced nurse, they will hunt you down to see what it takes to break you. Sad but very true...and they call themselves professionals.
Enjoy your youth but keep it in perspective as a professional.

Isn't it surprising what topics bring the greatest response? I currently work in a field that is somewhat tangential to classroom teaching, but I can tell you that it was something of a shock to realize how non-collaborative teachers are compared to other professionals I have worked with. As a parent, I have experienced new, young teachers, still somewhat in fear for their lives in the midst of a rowdy group of teenagers, who have walled themselves off from all helpful advice by an attitude that "I am a teacher, I am a professional." I can understand this better when I realize how totally isolating teaching is.

It is a shame, when you realize what old and new, young and old teachers have to learn from one another, not to mention parents. You all have simply got to start paying attention to one another. When I read complaints about the things that the "central office" or those curriculum people are doing by mandating pacing guides and specific lessons, I can only wish that the teachers in schools had taken the initiative to work on these issues together, before it had to come "from above." Despite individual instances of this happening, it doesn't seem to be the case overall--and it appears to be due to this peculiar culture of education that says "just leave me alone with my students and let me do it my way."

Very sad. BTW--I do hope that you will rethink the flip-flops and pigtails. I just don't think that's the hill that you want to die on.

After reading this GREAT article and viewing the comments, I have to say that there are many of you that don't know how to read... yes the writer mentioned pigtails and flip flops... but she NEVER mentioned wearing them to work!!! You all seem to be bashing her for something she hasn't done... read the article again word for word, line by line and the truth is there...

Personally I loved the article and commend the writer for being so honest and open... more people should follow in her steps and do so...

In reading the replies, I believe most of you have forgotten why you became teachers in the first place.

I had to laugh at the response Ms Reed drew from supposed educated people. Do you even read what your students write? How many of you have failed someone because you don't take the time to read what is written. You assume!! How bad is that. I would hope my children and grandchildren would be lucky enough to be assigned to a teacher like Ms Reed. Do you ever think back to the days when you were students learning the basics? Goodness sakes, I think you all could learn a great deal from Ms Reed and her attitude towards the profession.

I am a 23-year-old third year teacher. As I embarked on my first year teaching experience, I experienced similar reactions that Erin encountered. For instance, some of the veteran teachers assumed that my classroom management skills were not going to be top – notch and they were envious of my professionalism (e.g. I arrived to work at least 45 minutes early, I was always prepared, and I dressed professionally.). However, despite some of my colleagues’ reactions towards me, I strived to continue to be a great teacher by reading professional literature, observing other teachers, and sorting out teachers in other schools who were willing to provide me with support. It appears that veteran teachers are intimidated by novice teachers because they are coming to an environment with a galore of creative teaching strategies and teaching ideas. I commend Erin for striving to be a great educator. However, she does not have to prove to the veteran teachers that she is a great teacher. Her work will “speak” for her. In addition, she should continue to work hard, but eliminate the pigtails and flip-flops. Yes, she is young, but she is a professional teaching in a professional environment.

Hello Erin,

I encourage you to continue displaying the energy and creativity that each of your students deserve. I have been teaching for ten years and understand the arrogance that can come from teachers that have lost their drive to teach. I say, if you are teaching and have lost the spark-then leave and make room for the those with the desire and passion to truly engage and motivate learners. Please remember that everyone in our schools has something to offer the students.

On another note-I have a question Erin-Did you wear pigtails and flipflops to your interview?


Hello all! Again thank you for the continued support. I feel the need to say yet again...no where in my article do I mention wearing flip flops and pigtails to work. Please don't try to fill in between the lines. Thanks...Erin

It appears that if a majority of individuals are reading that you are wearing pigtails and flipflops to work, maybe it's not everyone else who has the issue.

Spend less time trying to tell everyone you are good at what you do in the classroom and just do it. Please give the more experienced teachers the same respect you are asking for from everyone else.

Remember-We are all educators working for the kids-not trying to push our own agenda.

You never answered the question-Did you wear pigtails and flipflops to your interview?

If not, then maybe you do realize that there is a professional code in education. If we want to be treated as professionals-then act and dress like one. You don't have to act your like students to relate to them.


There is room for improvement on both sides, here. I started teaching at age 20. A teacher must look professional; no pigtails and flipflops. You can still look young, and the students love that. You are a role model for your students. You are their vision of themselves in the future. You must modify your speech and behavior with your colleagues, the parents, the students and the administrators to engage them as individuals. That is where you use the people skills that led you to choose to be a teacher. You probably have a lot to share in the area of technology and current culture. Bring that to your colleagues in a palatable and respectful way, and you will have them eating out of your hand. You do not need to be false; don't stay late if you don't have to. Use hands-on, music, rhythm, cheerleading, drama, etc. to your advantage. You are young; you have energy. I am 58 now. I let the kids show me the new stuff they can do with my cell phone, the computer, etc. We discuss our differences and our problems. You need to stop seeing yourself so globally; individualize your responses to each person as needed.

"No one wants to take a 20-something teacher seriously when she acts her age. While my elementary students appreciate my age, my colleagues don’t. My pigtails and flip-flops don’t fit into this new world. Just when I was sure that I could be myself and my students could relate to me, I was shot down." This is a direct quote from your article. To me this does say you wear flip flops and pigtails to work. If you mean that you realize you can't wear them to work, good! Is this a metaphor? If so, perhaps using quotation marks would have prevented a misunderstanding. I'm sorry your ego is bruised. That easily happens in teaching as well as many other professions. Share your ideas when asked and be open to the ideas of others. Old and new have a lot to learn from each other. Remember, you are a professional and need to have distance between you and your students. Relate to them, yes, but they should look up to you. You're not to be their best friend. Good luck!

Oh, Erin. It is SO not about "cookie cutter."

"Professionally appropriate" grooming/attire/affect comes in as many shapes and styles as there are individual people. NOBODY here is advocating a return to the dismal old days of mannish dark suits, silky white blouses, and those dreadful little floppy bow-ties as "the only way a woman can be taken seriously in the man’s world of work." (Of course you're too young to remember those dark and divisive days. BE THANKFUL for that!)

But honestly, don't you FEEL different -- more adult, more EFFECTIVE -- in nice slacks and a shirt with an actual collar(!) than you do in a tank top, denim cutoffs, and flip-flops? And isn't that a lesson you WANT to pass on by example to your students?

I've just earned my second Master's degree at 48 and am eagerly anticipating actually making a living at education, which I've worked at on a "unpaid second job" basis at a non-profit for 11 years now ( http://www.orioninitiative.com ; do drop in if you get a minute :-)). SURE I've enjoyed the past 2.5 years as a full-time student, limited in my attire only by the kind SoCal weather. But you'd better believe that BEFORE I even hit that first interview, I'll be dressing every day for at least a week prior in office-appropriate attire JUST TO REMEMBER WHAT "PROFESSIONAL" FEELS LIKE.

Feeling professional ==> ACTING professional. YOU do the math.

-- Spike

As I approach my fifth year of teaching, I do relate to the article that was written. It certainly is hard to come into this profession being a novice with the students. Then, you are also expected to know how to be a colleague. Most schools structurally leave us to teach in isolation. Others that are fortunate enough to have open classrooms might not feel welcomed to join a teacher, be it veteran or new. I think what we need to remember is that we all bring something into this profession, regardless of what age we are when we begin. New teachers must not be afraid to ask for advice and speak up with what they have to offer, while veteran teachers must remember to share the wealth of information that they have acquired over the years.

I have degrees in political science yet I started education and -against all odds- I finished the teacher certification program as an K-9 teacher and almost finished special ed. master's program. I'm not in the school system already.However I have been volunteering my time and energy and work with students of all age/gender/race/class/nationality in different institutions ranging from public/private schools to museums. I worked with regular students in the classroom as well as students with exceptional needes. As a whole, teaching gives me ultimate pleasure not because I have to deal with other teachers but just because I deal with students who need me. Of course, I don't deny the enormous effect of being liked and expected by my colleagues but

If you haven't already done so watch the fantastic movie "Freedom Writers" with Hillary Swank. The special features will also give you inspiration. I think you'll find yourself identifying with her creativity.

Ms. Reed: For my second career I choose teaching. Now I'm 61 years young and have just finished my 11 year of teaching. I truly understand your feelings because I had the same feelings when I was the "new" kid in the hall. My thoughts, a smile backed by a warm heart is how to fit in with the important people at school-the precious children. ttfn

One thing that popped into my head as I was reading was your comment that people have trouble with your appearance. I think flip-flops and pigtails is not professional attire. Perhaps, that needs to toned down. I am a 34 year old education student and returning to school with students who are way younger than me. I think new and exciting teaching styles are great, but I notice sometimes that my younger classmates are a little more nieve than they think they are.

It's important to act and dress professionally, no matter what one's age is. Flip-flops and low-cut tops are definitely not professional. To be taken seriously, please dress in a professional manner.

I feel that teachers who have been teaching 30 plus years really need to retire and let the yonger teacher like myself do our jobs. I am a teacher in the Detroit Public School system and I get a lay off notice EVERY year, since 2004. This makes no sense. They go by senority and NOT teaching skills. A lot of older teacher do NOT want to move along with the times and the children. You can NOT teach the 5th graders of 2007 that same way you taught the 5th grades or 1987(the year I was in 5th grade). A lot of older teachers want to teach the same way and expect their students to adapt, they also don't want to accept that they MUST move on with the times. You older teachers need to realize that you all can also learn form us. We are young, refreshed and WE KNOW how to teach the students of the NEW GENERATION. We can relate to them better ad they re:ate to us. We know how to teach AND be liked. I am firm but fair, but my kids ALL LOVE ME! I give any parent who asks my cell number and am willing to answer any question about homework etc. . . at ANY TIME, how many OLDER teachers do that. I hear older teachers say things like, 'they're going to have to BLOW up the building to get me out of here' I mean you hav been teacheing 35-40 years WHY are you still hanging on? When younger teachers like me 29 years old ad have been teaching 8yeas, we continue to get pink slips. To me that is just plain SELFISH and wrong. Have you all forgotten what it was liek to be young? Think about it. Have a heart, retire adn let us take over! Pass the torch to the NEXT generation! ! !

And lets talk about dress. I am 29, NOT 59 and I will dress as such. I am not going to come to work as if I am going to a meeting with President Bush. I will come to work in a way that I choose. Of course I am not going to dress like I'm on my way to the club, but some OLDER teachers come to work like they are going on a picnic. But because they are OLDER no one says aything. I have seen older teachers come to work in baseball caps, t-shirts and jeans. I was confronted NOT by my principal but other jealous hearted teachers. Now just because I am young and had a BICKHOUSE BODY, I am targeted. For example if I wear something form fitting it's an issue but if my FAT COLLEAGUE wears it it's ok. I asked what the difference was and I was told that because of her shape or lack there of it was ok because it was NOT viewed as sexual, but because I have a nice body it was viewed as sexaul. BULL! ! !That is not fair! ! Not mt fault I'm not fat! So if I gained like 50lbs I guess it wold be ok for me to wear form fitting attire.

And there is NOTHING wrong with wearing your hair in a ponytail. Geez what's wrong with that? I mean if I am having a bad hair day and opt for a ponytail until I make a hair appointment, would you rather I call in sick beause you don't like my hair in a ponytail? That is SOOOO UTTERLY ridiculous! !

Hello DST,

It sounds as if you are very bitter-maybe you should leave the profession, not the older teachers. Bitterness has no place in education. It is not about you-it is about the kids.

Number of years teaching has nothing to do when you should leave education. An individual should leave if they no longer are focusing on the students. If you spend more time trying to prove yourself, maybe you are not as good as you think.

Remember-Every teacher (first year to 30 year veteren has something valuable to offer children). Learn from the veteren teachers before they are gone.


EXCUSE ME? BITTER I THINK NOT! Where did that igorance come from? My students AND PARENTS LOVE ME ADN I HAVE BEEN NOMINATED FOR TEACHER OF THE YEAR 5 YEARS IN A ROW! ! ! And won 2 times, so maybe YOU should leave! !

I agree professional attire is a MUST. We cannot deny first impressions are important and although we are not to "judge a book by its cover" it does help looking professional. I had just turned 21 when I started teaching (3 years ago) at the high school where I had graduated from 3 years before. Thank God the staff at my school was very supportive and to this day I haven't had any problems for being the youngest teacher in the staff.

Hello DST,

I think you just made my point-thank you.

If you won teacher of the year, I am sure glad my kids don't attend school in your district.

Thank you,


Hello DST,

Also, your response is exactly the same response my middle school students would use.

Maybe you are with the correct group-no matter the age group-atleast you both can respond the same to each other.

Have a great day,


Teachers in general (in my experience) have horrible dressing habits, including wearing flip-flops to work. They're not appropriate. How can anyone, regardless of age, expect to be taken seriously when they're dressed for the beach?

As far as age ... In my first years of teaching, most of my colleagues had children older than I. I had comments made about it often enough, including a comment about taking a bubble bath with my sister!

All I can say is, look carefully at what they're seeing, determine which criticisms are valid and which aren't, ignore the pressure to be perfect (some of the self-consciousness might be self-imposed), don't be afraid to seek help from people who are benevolent (regardless of how long you've been teaching), and make sure to maintain the line between being the students' teacher and their friend.

EXCUSE ME? BITTER I THINK NOT! Where did that igorance come from? My students AND PARENTS LOVE ME ADN I HAVE BEEN NOMINATED FOR TEACHER OF THE YEAR 5 YEARS IN A ROW! ! ! And won 2 times, so maybe YOU should leave! !

How about commas? Or, maybe spelling (igorance-Did you mean ignorance?)


Did a middle schooler writes this response?

I hope someone else teaches your students to write and think.

I also looked at your other responses. I find too many corrections.

Thank you,

Concerned Teacher- or is it cocernd tchr?


Hello DST,

Thank you for your comments.

I was putting an opinion out to you. It was not intended to cause you such great stress. I truly believed that if you worked with students that you would have a thicker skin.

Apparently, this is not the case. I apologize for touching on some sore subjects that obviously you have some issues around.

What is the name of your school? I would love to learn more about a place that is making such great progress with kids. Would you be willing to share a website? Maybe, you could just let us know the name of the school. I am always trying to learn best practices. I look up the Detroit Public Schools to learn more.

Remember: Responding in a respectful manner is always the best response.

Thank you,



Why won't you use your real name?

I was also like to know about your school?

I bet you have some great ideas from Detroit.

Please let us all know who you are. Share your vast experience and instructional knowledge that you gained over your years as a teacher.

Some of us may not be teaching correctly.

I hope to hear soon.

Interested teacher in the west


Your responses have not been very professional. Being proud of not having special ed classes at your school is extremely degrading to students and special ed teachers.


I thought public education was for everyone-I believe Thomas Jefferson believed this as well. Look up Jefferson and education if you don't understand. Maybe, ask your special ed teachers.

I am sure you are not representative of the education professionals in your community. Maybe your principal should see how you repsond to fellow educators and use a degrading and arrogant tone. Over time you will learn-being only 29 I am sure we seasoned profesionals will cut you some slack.

Please do not continue to believe that you are the best and the only right person. Others do have opinions.

I certainly hope you do not treat struggling students like this. If you do, you are not a teacher and you have set education back centuries.

Please try to be professional with your fellow educators.

Special Ed teacher

Oh no I wasn't downgrading SPECIAL ED students and or teachers. I really can't remeber why I said that but i am sure it was because someone attacked me and said something rude to me. it had NOTHING to to with Special Ed students and or teachers, so if you took it that was I apoplogize

I have found that establihing a POSITIVE rapport with parents in the begining is a HUGE help. Sending home your intriductory letter and syllabus on day one. I offer my cell phone number to my oarents simply becasue I want my parents to be ale to contact me after school if the have ANY questions about the homework or an assigment. When doing this you let parents know that you DO CARE adn that you are TRULY concerned with their child's success. I also hae an OPEN DOOR policy with my parents. They are allowed to come in my class and observe ANYTIME they choose. I also tell them don't even tell me your're coming just follow the school procederes as far as going to the office and then come on up. I also keep a call log of eveytime I talk to a parent whether it be positive or not. I also send hom progress reporst twice a card makring. In doing thisit keeps parents abreast of their child's success and it leaeves little to no surprises at report card time. I have a lot of good ideas I can share with you all. if you have any more specifice questions you want to ask me feel free. And thank you for ebing SO NICE towards me and NOT ebing nasty to me. Thank you so much, you are TRULY a good person. Oh also another good thing to do is have STUDENT LEAD conferences. This takes the pressure off of the teacher and puts the responsibility on the student. In a student lead conference the student must explain their grade to their parent. They must show their work and explain how they arrived at their final grade. This allows the parent to hear it fron the student themselves not the teacher. Students learn responsibility and to tell the truth and the parents really get to see what their child learned and or retained. This works really well for grades 4-12.

Friction between new and established employees can occur in all job settings, but working relationships can only be built through respect for one another and professional behavior. It is unfortuate that nurses, and it appears teachers also, tend to "eat their young" by failing to nurture new professionals.

It is not uncommon for people to become too comfortable with "the way we've always done it" and become resistant to change. Established teachers must be nurtured by younger more technologically saavy teachers, just as the younger teachers must be nurtured by more seasoned teachers.

I truly believe that there is adequate research that reveals that colleagues, patients, students,etc respond in a more positive manner to someone who is professionally attired.

Reading these exchanges has been a fascinating, and shocking, experience.



Response From: new to site
08/28/2007 9:29PM


I'm confused on what you mean, please explain!

I think that there isn't a generation gap... it is more like a professionalism gap. There are certain standards that are expected for teachers to uphold. Respecting the craft should be demanded by the way that we present ourselves. Looking the part demands respect within itself. Sometimes people confuse teaching style with professionalism. Being professional should be reflected in the way we dress, act and perform. An example; if I were a kindergarden teacher, I'd dress differently than a high school teacher because of the different things that takes place within the classrooms. I would look totally out of place if I came to teach kindergardners in a suit and high heels. Teaching style is when we reflect our personalities and passion into what we do. It is how we get the message accross to the kids. Personally, I believe that we have to do what it takes to connect with our students to help them to learn. In other words, be creative if need be. Senior teachers need to share and help; but they also need to give young teachers space and room to grow. A wise person once told me to respect everyone and show a little kindness and compassion because those qualities go a long way. Senior teachers need to realize that just because they are older doesn't mean that they are wiser. They have to earn their respect and not expect it on the mere fact that they think that they are due. Young teachers are full of great and fresh ideas. They are up on the best practices and current trends. We as teachers can learn from one another no matter what the age!


Senior teachers need to realize that just because they are older doesn't mean that they are wiser. They have to earn their respect and not expect it on the mere fact that they think that they are due. Young teachers are full of great and fresh ideas. They are up on the best practices and current trends

In my case I am . an older teacher with a Teacher who is near 70. ther is a 25 year difference in our ages . the problem is that she hates the children. She speaks negative comments in the classroom and she down plays me for wanting to do activities that alot me to use some of the materials.ince we are a pre school , our ratio is 1t08 .If i decide to do an activity like making playdough or creating something , she will take her group outside and let them play all day ! im lost... She does not want me to let children be creative. she also wont give her kids seconds at mealtime. If they are late for breakfast, she told me not to keep any reserve snacks. I belive a child should eat something ... sometimes parents are running late and havent had the time to get breakfast.. i understand that as a single parent myself. I have bought these concerns to my Director .. but because this teacher has over 27 years of service as a teacher, Human Resources or the company are reluctant to making any changes. How do I continue to be an effective teacher when the Master teacheris tired and physically wont do anything.Our class age is 3. Please some helpful advice would be well appreciated!

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