Can you actually be too short to be a high school teacher?
January 30, 2011 3:48 PM Subscribe
I want to be a high school French teacher, but at twenty years old I still have the height, weight, and voice of a twelve-year-old. I'm afraid these physical attributes will make it nearly impossible for me to be hired and taken seriously as a high school teacher. Is this a legitimate concern that should cause me to rethink my goals?
posted by datarose to education (40 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
To start with, here's why I would love to be a high school French teacher: the French language and teaching are two of my greatest passions. The only thing I love more than language learning myself is teaching languages to others. Despite my severe social anxiety, I've enjoyed practicing English conversation with international students as much as I've enjoyed helping my peers practice reading, writing, and speaking in English and French classes.
I originally thought I wanted to go into research/academia after college, but now I'm having doubts. Everything I've read online suggests that the job market is terrible for Ph.D. students, and I would rather avoid the job insecurity, the mental stress, the endless hours, and the barely living-wage pay of the graduate student lifestyle. Now, high-school teaching is also not the most highly-paid profession, but isn't it true that it's easier to find a high-school job than a university job and the salary will be somewhat higher (from the start, even though the Ph.D's might be earning more in ten years)? Another reason I think I would prefer high-school teaching to university teaching is that it would allow me to have closer relationships with and more of an impact on my students, as well as in the community. It's important for me to be able to help people and make a real difference in people's lives every day.
But what scares me to death about planning to be a high school teacher is the fact that I'm barely 4'10" and eighty-six pounds, with a nearly flat chest, a childish face, and a relatively high-pitched voice. Most people I meet in public are absolutely incredulous when they learn I'm twenty years old. They just refuse to believe it. I am deeply afraid of getting this same incredulous reaction when I walk into my job interviews. Whoever interviewed me would surely laugh or joke about my size; he or she would never consider me a serious candidate. Furthermore, I'm afraid of getting this same incredulous reaction when I stand in front of a classroom for the first time. How would my students feel to have a teacher who is tinier than even the smallest one of them? Would they ever be able to trust and respect me, when I look and sound like a twelve-year-old? How could I put up with the inevitable laughing, teasing, and dismissal? How could I be taken seriously?
I need to know how much weight should be given to these concerns. Please be honest and tell me, is it realistic for a person of my stature to try to be a high school teacher? Do you think someone like me could actually be hired and taken seriously as a teacher, and if so, what would it take? How could I get school administrators and students to view me as an adult? If this is not realistic, are there any other promising careers for someone who (1) loves the French language, (2) loves helping people, and (3) wants to have a reasonably secure job in the near future?