I remember when I was in fifth grade I had an old grandma looking teacher named Mrs. Vancleve. In her class we learning social studies and reading. I can’t remember a single lesson, but to this day I remember her vibrant polyester dresses decked out with costume jewelry and white hair coifed in the same perfect way every day. I would have guessed that Mrs. Vancleve was in her seventies when I was in her class and would retire at any second.
Ten years later I was back at my elementary school and was amazed to see some of my old teachers. Mr. McLintock, my second grade teacher, was much shorter after ten years than when he was when I was in second grade. Mr. Kline had less hair and was actually thinner. Yet, Mrs. Vancleve looked untouched by time. Her hair managed to stay exactly the same. You could imagine that she slept sitting up so that it never moved. Her outfit, although new, had the same style I remembered. She also had the same dark rimmed glasses that she probably started wearing the 50’s. I realized that my guess of 70 years old must have been off, or else Mrs. Vancleve must have turned sixty and quit aging.
As I begin year number 17 of my teaching career, I know that I could retire in my early fifties. The idea sounds good, but unless I have a burning desire to forge into another career, I will most likely keep on teaching as long as I can just like Mrs. Vancleve. I know that someday my former students will reflect on me as their teacher. I’m sure they won’t specifically remember most of the items we learned together, but they will probably find some nuance or phrase I recite to remember me by. I hope it makes them smile.
(In the comments below, please tell me some of the comments your students have made about your age. Or let me know some of the quirks of former teachers that you remember still today. )
Kids are always fascinated by the age of their teacher. If given the opportunity their first personal question almost always is, “How old are you?”. The students use this information to place you in the adult world like, “My parents are older than you.” Their parents also look at age to define you as a teacher. Some want new teachers for their child that have fresh ideas and are willing to give their all to their class. Other parents want older veteran teachers that know what they’re doing in their classrooms.