Hello, my name is Big Fat Agist

Today we went to Open House at the school where Chickadee and Monkey will be resuming their education next week. This is the school I fought tooth and nail to get them into, so believe me, I am THRILLED they’re going there.

We met Monkey’s teacher first. She’s a sweet, calm woman who is in her 40th year of teaching. She told me she’s seen it all and can take whatever the kids dish out. I believed her. I sort of wanted to be in her class, myself.

We met Chickadee’s teacher next. I don’t think she’s 30 yet. She’s young and pretty and nothing she did or said was a problem and yet I found myself wishing Chickadee had gotten one of the more seasoned teachers.

Does this make me age-discriminatory or am I just being honest about my daughter’s propensity to chew up and spit out the young and unsuspecting?


  1. Chris

    I think she will do fine because you will be on top of it.
    I’m with you on the more experienced teacher thing though. I think the older kids need them.
    Good Luck, I can’t believe that your kids start school so soon. It’s too hot!

  2. Barb Cooper

    Well, I hate to be a dissenter but when my daughter Ana (she who read before age three but who has the social skills of a yak to this day) got put into Ms. Bra Strap’s class (and yes, I really called her this, because she wore her bra strap down her arm, not as a faux pas but as a fashion statement) I felt a twinge of… something. Mir, I don’t want to alarm you but she did real damage to my sensitive child. The biggest regret of my parenting career was that I didn’t pull my kid from this teacher’s room. She had no compassion for children. That’s all I ask, if you wear a toe ring and you don’t bother to take the gum out of your mouth before addressing a room full of first-grade parents who are mostly lawyers and doctors and engineers, etc. I ask for some compassion for my lovely, winsome and totally literal yak. Give the teacher a chance, yes, but listen to your instincts. That’s all I’m saying.


  3. premenopaws

    We’ve had it both ways. My daughter responds better to young, hip teachers than she does to grandmotherly types (either the huggy type or the strict no-funny-business type). Some older teachers can be too set in their ways, and have a mentality of “this is how I’ve always done it” and therefore wind up being inflexible or defensive if you point out something isn’t working. Others have done it so long and they truly have seen it all and can go with the flow and be a great influence for all of you. Sometimes young teachers are more willing to try new things, sometimes they can be just clueless, or worse–cop that attitude that they know your child better than you do. As Barb just said, give the young teacher a chance, but be ready to follow your gut.

  4. amy

    Well you certainly hit upon a nerve here. I am very sensitive to my kids’ teachers and that has been one reason that I have always been very involved in their schools. Not because I am a wonderful person, but because I need to know the ins and outs of the administration and the staff. I realize you have just moved, but if possible, make sure you become one of the PTA moms if only to get into the school and check it out so that next year, they will value you and they will listen to your request for certain teachers. They will never admit to doing this, but many times they will do it for the parents who are involved.
    As far as the young teacher goes – well I have to say I was a rookie once, and I was very dedicated as a rookie teacher, but I was also clueless. Sometimes when you are young, your energy makes up for your inexperience; but sometimes when a teacher is young, her inexperience and general misunderstanding about learning styles can be a big problem. Is it possible to find out about this teacher? You might see if you could request a change and just put it on yourself and your child, perhaps mentioning that Chickadee will do best with a more experienced teacher because of XYZ? Is it a big school? If it is a large school they may have some wiggle room. Not everything is set in stone. Or try Barb’s approach – give it 3 weeks and then just insist on a change if your antenna go up and you see that there are issues right away. Do.Not.Let.Anything.Slide. That is the biggest mistake I have made in the past. Trust your gut. Stay with the program and definitely advocate for a change if you feel it will be better, but the best way to manage change without having the administration get their hackles up is to be the most wonderful volunteer possible within the time frame that you can manage. Good Luck and I wish you the best!

  5. becky

    i would wait and see, but watch closely. chickadee may wind up loving her. but if she doesn’t, or there are conflicts, by all means speak up. i hope it works out.

  6. Cassie

    Hi! You hit a huge nerve! Congrats! :)

    I would just say to give her a fair chance, but don’t be afraid to change her if that’s necessary later on (the 3 week approach sounds perfect to me, especially since you mentioned that nothing caused alarms tonight). I personally have been affected VERY negatively by ageism, whereas people assume I don’t know my job or my product line as a result of my age. In reality, I was born and raised into the industry in which I now work, so I am often treated as a lesser even though in reality I am more knowledgeable than the people that I am often passed over in favor of. The cycle is perpetuated by a boss who knows of my capabilities, yet turns a silent ear to my customers treating me like an idiot. ::twitch::

    Right. I can’t really talk about this over in my blog world for a few more weeks (because, you know, the walls have ears), but I’d love to put my perspective on ageism in the workplace out there soon. The long story short is not to discredit someone because they are young. Perhaps they have something to offer that the older person can not offer?

    That being said, this IS your child’s teacher, and she can and will have an impact on Chickadee, and I think that’s #1 priority. You definitely need to keep your eye out and be sure that your daughter has the most capable teacher there is for her needs. You’ve already started this by making sure she’s in the right school, but don’t be afraid to make sure that her teacher is on top of her game. To me, it sounds like Chickadee is a very vibrant and active young lady who would probably benefit from a young teacher who can keep up with her. As someone who used to work with young girls as a swimming coach and oboe teacher, I LOVED working with kids like her, because we could use their enthusiasm and creativity to add to the atmosphere, whereas many of the older teachers would get unnecessarily mad at the kids who would act out.

    Blah. I’m rambling into your comments. I hope my 2 cents helps. Good luck!

  7. McSwain

    I recently became a teacher, but I’m in my 40’s. I know some REALLY good seasoned teachers. Really good. But on the whole, I’d rather have my kid in a new teacher’s class. She’ll have more energy, never be unwilling to try something new, and will bend over backwards to do her best. The young teachers I work with are fabulous. Many of the older teachers get stuck in ruts.

  8. Stacy

    I’m the same way. We are getting ready to send my son to Kindergarten and we are wanting the more experienced teacher. My husband is in education and he says that statistically more experienced teacher’s kids do better on standardized testing. No matter who he gets for a teacher, we will be very involved in our son’s schooling, just like you are.

  9. Sasha

    Last year there was a student intern. I think she was like 24. I knew she was in the wrong field, however, she was paired up with a wonderful teacher and I was so upset when Ms.R had to leave for 2 weeks so the intern could do her thing.
    I know my niece has serious behavioral issues and it was such a nightmare to go through those weeks where she pushed that woman’s buttons and the woman was calling me exasperated.

    I questioned whether she was inept or whether I was holding a grudge because she was younger. I mean I loved my kindergarten niece’s grandmotherly like teacher. But then I loved Ms. R too and she’s 34…

    Then I started to think…wait a minute! I’m 30…it can’t be agism. So I concluded that this woman was inept. lol

    If you feel you want a different experience for your child and you know that there is someone who can give them that experience…follow your gut.

    BTW, after her two week solo classroom teaching…she quit and didn’t finish the rest of the year. I wonder if my niece had anything to do with that? *scratching head*

  10. Andrea

    I think you need to give it the 3 weeks. My child had a 22-year veteran for kindergarten and I LOVED her. She was far from being in a rut, but rather had an amazing gift to engage both the advanced kids as well as those lagging behind. In first grade he had another wonderful teacher who I estimate to be my age (mid-30’s). Almost exactly. She too was amazing. I don’t think it’s so much the age as it is the teacher’s personality and teaching style, so I think you need to see how that plays out. My son needs a teacher who is nurturing (he’s a tad on the sensitive side) as well as challenging (he’s a smart lil’ cookie). Those were the words out of his kindergarten teacher’s mouth and I stick by them.

    Best wishes as the school year starts! I second/third/fourth the motion that you surely will be an involved mom, so it will all work out fine.

  11. Carrie

    I always find your posts interesting, but as a teacher (middle-aged, so mid way between inexperienced and over-the-hill) AND as a parent of atypical child (sensory integration issues here, too), this one made me want to respond. And some of the comments made me want to cry, laugh, scream, etc. No teacher is going to make every parent happy. That, however, is not the main issue — the issue is the teacher and Chickadee. Why don’t you call the teacher and ask for a conference now — either on the phone or in person? Go talk to her about Chickadee, your concerns and ideas to make the transition work as smoothly as possible. Don’t assume being under 30 is a problem — she could have 5 to 7 years experience already. Also, young teachers have a more recent education that has included training in learning differences and styles, multiple intelligences, etc. And by the way, some of those teachers who have been here forever are… let me put this delicately… burnt out or too set in their ways to make accomodations for kids who are square pegs that don’t fit into round holes. As in anything, each teacher is an individual and you are right that it is important to have a good fit.
    DO get involved in the school. Be active in the PTO if you can. That’s great advice — good for you, good for the kids, good for the teachers and the school. But don’t assume that being active just so you know the administrators and the teachers means you’ll get your choice of teacher in future years anymore than an uninvolved parent. We listen to ALL parents, not just the ones we see more frequently. Sometimes you do have to get in and get pushy and demanding and advocate for you child (I’ve had to do it as a parent, so I get it when parents do it to us). But you already got your child into the school you wanted, so give it a chance. Yanking a child out of a class after three weeks is NOT a good idea. Those first weeks are when all the “getting to know” things happen, friendships begin, routines are set. Rather than thinking about changing classes, IF things are not going well, think about meeting with the teacher, and if necessary after that with the teacher and the principal or the sped team to make things go well for Chickadee.
    Good luck!

  12. MomCat

    It so totally depends on the teacher. My daughter’s worst teacher ever was about to retire, and she just decided my daughter was a bad egg, a coddled child who faked pain and illnesses to get out of school. Even after the kidney and bladder problems were diagnosed and she went into the hospital for a week and had surgery. We couldn’t get it through old Ms. So and So’s head. In that case, I think we needed a saner teacher not a younger teacher!

  13. Rachel May

    I’m also a teacher, and I agree 110% with Carrie. I’m not 30 yet, and I have eight years of teaching experience under my belt. That’s plenty of time to have figured out the lay of the land for the most part, and not too much to have become completely set in stone.

    Essentially, DITTO Carrie. Especially about the up-front conference (proactive is always better than reactive) and the being-involved-for-the-right-reasons part.

    It’s hard for me to toot my own horn, but I’ve been told that I’m a better teacher because I’m younger, for many of the reasons Carrie listed… more energy, not burnt out, more recent pedagogy and training, easier to relate to the kids, too.

    I agree completely that you need to listen to your gut about Chickadee and her teacher, but I also think that going into the school year with a mindset of “If this doesn’t work out after X weeks, I’m yanking her out” is also detrimental.

  14. Brigitte

    I agree that the teacher’s more recent education may be a plus; she will be have been taught about the issues and medical conditions facing modern kids. And I love the pre-school conference with the teacher idea!

  15. Katie

    No offense to anyone but I love the younger teachers. Maybe because I’m a young mom, my kids respond better to a younger teacher?

    One gripe about my wonderful school system (which I love, really), we find out who the kids’ teachers are 3 days before school starts (and two of those days are the weekend). It doesn’t give me much time to “warn” the teachers about my kids’ particular um, personalities.

  16. Randi

    How do you think the seasoned teachers BECAME seasoned? She’ll do great, and the teacher will learn as much from Chickadee as she will from the teacher!

  17. Mimipz5wjj

    LOL! I think it’s natural to feel that way! Way back in the stoneage when I was in kindergarten… I had 2 teachers (we moved 1/2 way through the year). The first was older and a total b-word. Horrible teacher. The second was younger and wonderful!

    It’s so hard to tell on the first meet & greets what it will be like. Only the year and time will tell!

  18. Crisanne

    As many others have said, and I know you already know, age can be a difficult means of measuring effectiveness as a teacher. She also could look younger than she is…people used to confuse me for a student all the time when I was first teaching. Your support staff will be your greatest asset here. As you already know, the counselors will help you tremendously. It wouldn’t be out of line to request a meeting early on with them and the teacher just as an FYI. If she’s a good teacher, regardless of age, she’ll listen to you, the counselors, and other teachers who might be able to help.

    The worst teachers I knew as a teacher myself were the old curmudgeonly ones. That being said, I totally understand your desire for a seasoned teacher for Chickadee.

  19. Ei.

    I just came back from talking to the K teacher who was reputed to be “not too into kids” but has remarkably been doing it forever. All I can say is, she gets it. She is used to training not only students but parents. I worry because my kids are a lot like yours, bright and therefore challenging. She is up for the challenge, and has proved it year in and out. We’ll see. Hope Chickie’s teacher works out, but don’t beat yourself up for respecting experience.

  20. Jan in Norman OK

    Amen to Carrie’s advice! Especially the part about meeting with the teacher before classes start. Not as a “helicopter parent”, asking for any special considerations, but just to let her know things like the problems Chickadee has had in then past and the changes that have happened in her young life in the past year. It will help her know how to relate and respond to Chickadee.

    One hour of preparing can prevent the need for a lifetime of repairing.

  21. Karen

    Mir, who knew you were an ageist? Trust your gut, but remember young doesn’t mean incapable. My sister is a 24 year old 4th grade teacher who is about to begin her second year of teaching. She is amazing with children and has developed great relationships with her students and their parents.

    The girls especially responded to my sister and wanted to emulate her in everyway….they wanted to dress like she did, talk like she did and competed strongly to be her “favorite”. Maybe Chickadee is different, but isn’t that common for young girls? It might be better for her think her teacher is hip and cool than to think the girls from High School Musical or Britney Spears is the best.

    Give this teacher a fair chance.

  22. BOSSY

    The young have a lot of energy. Or so (old lady) Bossy thinks she remembers.

  23. Stephanie Chance

    I think it’s a case of ‘the grass is always greener.’ We got a fairly seasoned teacher for kindergarten (16 years at the same school in the same room), and I found myself wishing that we had gotten a younger teacher who could offer a fresh perspective (two of the teachers at that school, I went to school with!). But I realized that if I had gotten one of the younger, fresher teachers, I probably would have been wishing for one of the seasoned teachers. We just always want the best, but we are not always sure what that is. Probably the best is showing her how to make the best of whatever one gets in life, even if the teacher is a serial killer. Ok, hopefully that wouldn’t happen, but you know what I mean. They are going to have to learn how to deal with assholes sooner or later because the world is full of them.

  24. Stephanie Chance

    I read Stacy’s comment about how kids with seasoned teachers do better on standardized tests, and I wanted to offer this perspective in case that gets you worrying, like it did me. Seasoned teachers’ kids may do better on standardized tests, but younger teachers’ kids may be better at thinking outside the box which is not easily measured by standardized tests.

  25. Lesley

    But does she have a sense of humor? Old, young, in-between. My challenging 12-year-old has always done well when the teacher has a sense of humor. Good luck! I’m excited to hear about how your school year shapes up.

  26. Manic Mommy

    Soon after college, my best friend ended up teaching my sister’s niece in 7th grade, so we got the scoop from both sides. Chris was so strict that the kids took to calling her ‘Evil Barbie’. Don’t judge a book by it’s young pretty cover.

  27. Daisy

    It’s almost (gulp) refreshing to hear ageism that might turn my wayinstead of against me. I am 46, have been teaching 15 years, and I appreciate all the comments that say in essence, “Don’t judge a book by her cover.” Chickie will be in good hands because you will make sure she’s in good hands. :)

  28. sumo

    I was going to say a few things that I see have already been addressed. All I can add is that how much the child likes the teacher is not necessarily the best yardstick to measure how good the teacher is. Another thing you might want to keep in mind: the first few weeks are typically when teachers (at least most of the more experienced ones) really lay down the law to ensure they have the respect to control the classroom for the rest of the year.

  29. alala

    Well, I’d say it depends on the teacher, and the child. It was the brand-sparkly-new, still wet-behind-the-ears teacher who spotted Ignatz’s ADHD and got us on the road to diagnosis, for which I will be eternally grateful. He was infuriating, and she was all patience and compassion.

    On the other hand, the Sniglet is a total drama queen, and he’s getting the teacher who’s just about to retire and has already seen it all. I think this’ll be very good for him. So for us, things worked out pretty well.

  30. Melissa McCormick

    I don’t think age matters. I’m 25 and have been teaching for 4 years. You can have bad old teachers and bad young teachers, and of course the other way around too.

  31. Amy

    I’m about to start my 10th year of teaching. I wonder if any parents were skeptical of my ability when I started. I was 22 and looked even younger! But by year 2, I had parents requesting my classroom. Give her a chance. If she is brand-new, I’d wonder what kind of mentoring the school provides for new teachers. A good mentoring program can make a huge difference.

    Oh, and I wanted to chime in on standardized tests–who gives a crap? I don’t care what our government thinks, what goes on in a classroom has very little to do with a test score.

  32. Barb

    One more thing to consider – if you wait three weeks, the school may be extremely unwilling to transfer Chickie out of the teacher’s class, no matter how insistent you are. I’ve taught in my current district for 7 years and I’ve only ever seen a student transferred out of a class after the year had begun one time. And in that case the parents sent the teacher a DEATH THREAT via certified mail. With that one glaring exception, parents are basically told to suck it up and tough it out. One parent of a student I had 4 yrs ago was offended that I was pregnant and due to deliver during the school year and threw quite the snit fit to have her child transferred out of my room because I was “selfishly taking time off during the school year and disrupting her son’s eduacation”. Yes, direct quote there and no, he did not get moved from my class.

  33. jean

    Well, there is nothing that I can say that hasn’t been said already. On another note, it dropped to 54 degrees out today! Yes, I put on jeans and a jacket. Yes, I am the same person who just 3 days ago went to bed with two ice bags and still couldn’t get cool. I cried and knew, KNEW, it was never ever going to get cool again. That my house which has central air would never drop below 78. I had soup for dinner tonight. Miracles do happen.

  34. Co

    I would have to say that if I were a child and were going to chew up a teacher and spit them out, I would prefer someone young. The older ones get really chewy. I’m sure Chickadee will love her.

  35. Barb Cooper

    I just wanted to clarify (because I didn’t mean to offend anyone) that the reason I disliked Ms. Bra Strap so much wasn’t because she was young. It was because she was a yeller, a control freak and I don’t think she liked kids that much. She was a bad match for my child. The next year, we had a teacher who was just a bit older than Ms. Bra Strap and she was FABULOUS. So, I honestly don’t think it’s an age thing. (The all time best teacher I’ve ever seen was my daughter’s 3rd grade teacher who is in her fifties and has way more energy than anyone I’ve ever met.) But I say again, trust your instincts. For me, I should have pulled my child from that school rather than let her languish in a classroom situation that did so much damage. I wonder how old I will be before I stop feeling guilty about that? –Barb

  36. MsRebecca

    Well let me say this, my son is only going into 1st grade and had a veteran/popular teacher, My mom ended up teaching my son the majority of what he knows, and she’s still waiting for her Kindergaten teacher certification in the mail.. My daughter has had a few young ones, in her expensive educational career that have been OUTSTANDING.. I suppose it depends on the person..

  37. Kmom

    I’m new to your blog. I’m really enjoying it! Thanks. I just wanted to say that it really has to do with the teacher and his/her commitment to the job than it does years of experience. Also, go with your gut. My brother and one of my best friends to this day had the same evil 1st grade teacher. It seriously affected the rest of their school years (my brother got seriously rebellious and my friend got hypochondriacally sick to miss school). Obviously we couldn’t just blame that teacher for what happened, but I know her rants, temper, and chastisement of the kids seriously affected the students. I know my mother regrets not pulling them from that class.

  38. dee

    I know your angst all too well. My son, a super bright ADHD kid who had been in the gifted program during 3rd and 4th grades, had the year of Hell with a new 5th grade teacher last year. I start foaming at the mouth whenever I think about it. I could write mountains of gripes, but as most everyone has already stated, go with your gut.

    I had a bad feeling when she failed to respond to emails early in the year, kept letting my son zombie his way through extended in-class projects that we’d have to feverishly complete at home in one night (that was to “teach him that he has to get things done on his own without someone pushing him along”…thanks, Mrs. Whoever Heard of ADHD), repeatedly seated him beside another ADHD kid so they could scratch each other’s eyes out/learn to get along with everyone, told my son upon his return from a 3-day absence, “It was so peaceful not having you here at school” and the hits go on and on. While I was infuriated and continuously tried getting through to her all year, I was a limp noodle and should have made a change in teachers or talked to the principal. Even though she was a recent graduate with a master’s from a well-to-do university, she had no clue regarding ADHD. And, it was a nightmare for us. On the other hand, other parents raved about how awesome and sweet and nurturing Mrs. I’d Love to Write Her Real Name Here was.

    Stepping off my soapbox, his best year was with a 3rd grade teacher who had 20+ years teaching experience, who knew when to pick her battles. He still raves about her. But, he also had a decent 4th grade year with a “younger” teacher. All that rambling to say er yeh, go with your gut, Mir. (and it sounds like Monkey is A-ok for the upcoming year)

  39. K

    We’ve had some young teachers whom we’ve *loved* (They can teach – AND tell you who the hip new bands are!)

    I hope your situation will be the same.

    Here in the great white north, we don’t start school until after Labor Day, so I don’t even know who our teachers are yet.

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