Roxanna EldenTen years from now, you’ll love it when people assume you’re young. You’ll smile when bartenders ask you for ID, and if a student’s mother says you look like a college student, it will take everything in your power not to hug her.

Not this year, though. As a beginning teacher, comments about your age seem like thinly veiled doubts as to whether you know what you’re doing. You’ve spent months dodging questions from kids about how many years you’ve been teaching. The last thing you want is for a parent to describe you as “adorable” or call you “sweetie” during a conference.

Inspiring confidence in parents who are older than you takes work, especially while you’re still developing confidence in yourself, but it is possible. Here are some tips to help you out.

Refer to objective data. You may feel that your school overdoes it on the data-collection requirements, but this can work to your advantage during parent conferences. If parents try to blame their children’s behavior or progress on your lack of experience, it helps to have last year’s test scores to back you up.

Keep clear office hours. You have no obligation to share your personal email or cell phone number with families. If you decide to, be clear about what hours you are available to talk — and stick to them. It is not a sign of dedication to return emails on Saturday nights or answer 11 p.m. phone calls about why Alex got a C on his spelling test. It’s a sign you haven’t learned to set boundaries between work and home.

Stand your ground. You want to be responsive to concerns from students’ families, but not so responsive that parents feel they can push you

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