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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » A body issue sneaking up

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Author Topic: A body issue sneaking up
breath
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I will be teaching high school students and while I have been loving my body, other's perception of my height/weight 5'1 and 90 lbs --has been a source of insecurity for me. (Normally I enjoy and love my body and take good care with it.)

It's almost as if I feel that I'm not suited for the job or something, b.c I don't look like a dominating adult.

Personally, i think the students aren't that way, that they are far likely to enjoy/like my personality/classroom lessons etc that my height/weight.

However, somehow this new opportunity has hit a bit of nerve in this regard. Any advice or tips here.

[ 07-28-2014, 11:51 PM: Message edited by: breath ]

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Karybu
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First of all, congrats on the new job. How exciting! [Smile]

I'm wondering if it might be helpful to try and unpack a little bit why this new job is bringing up these body issues for you. I know you said you're not sure, but the fact that you've used the word 'inadequate' a couple of times stands out to me. Inadequate in what way?

(For what it's worth, many of my most awesome teachers throughout school were about your size or not much bigger, and they definitely weren't inadequate because of it!)

[ 07-28-2014, 11:51 PM: Message edited by: Karybu ]

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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breath
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I think the biggest perception (and this is what I get from others too) is that I look like I belong in high school. Or that some students may be bigger than me. I am not a stereotypical "dominating" adult person, which in my mind was a trait of teachers that I had while in school.

I do think that people will be a bit surprised b.c that's not the stereotypical teacher looks, but I think it's just fun to expand their minds too?


Logically, I know that it's not how you look, its about how you conduct the class, your professionalism, connection with the students, authenticity, body language..etc etc. etc.I have taught other classes currently (adult education classes) and they were all very respectful and this wasn't an issue. So this isn't entirely due to inexperience or new job thing.

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breath
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quote:
Originally posted by breath:
I think the biggest perception (and this is what I get from other teachers too) is that I look like I belong in high school. Or that some students may be bigger than me. I am not a stereotypical "dominating" adult person, which in my mind was a trait of teachers that I had while in school.

Perhaps I am allowing others/society's stereotypes about what's "correct body size/length" to color my own view of my self ?

I do think that people will be a bit surprised b.c that's not the stereotypical teacher looks, but I think it's just fun to expand their minds too?


Logically, I know that it's not how you look, its about how you conduct the class, your professionalism, connection with the students, authenticity, body language..etc etc. etc.I have taught other classes currently (adult education classes) and they were all very respectful and this wasn't an issue. So this isn't entirely due to inexperience or new job thing.


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breath
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Additionally, I will be exposed to many different body types myself
How will I feel knowing that someone nearly 10 years younger than me weights more (or significally more ) than myself or much taller?

I think in my mind(and in the minds of majority of the world), it was always show than the older/bigger the person was, they would look bigger.

I guess it's just that I don't look the typical teacher, that's what makes me feel a bit inadequate, although I like to shatter stereotypes and open minds [Smile]

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Karybu
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I'm willing to bet that most teachers don't look like a 'typical teacher' - teachers come in all shapes and sizes, just like anybody else. [Smile]

Teachers, in my mind anyways, also don't need to be dominating at all. (And even if they did, size is really only one part of that.) Yes, you might be smaller than some of your students, but that doesn't invalidate your position as their teacher, and I'm willing to bet that most of them won't even think about how tall you are. If it hasn't been a problem up to now, there's really no reason to think it might be with this new job. Like you said, there is so much more to being a good teacher than just towering over your students!

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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Volunteer Ruth
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I think you may be conflating your own ideas about what a teacher should look like with what you expect everyone's ideas to be. While I fully agree that there is a societal idea of what a body should be (and that's awful), I don't think people will be walking into your classes with an expectation of who you should be or look like.

To echo what Heather said - many of my teachers at school were much smaller than me, and I never perceived them as being any less good at their jobs for their frames alone - even with my smaller male teachers, who very much have a societal expectation to be tall and broad.

While your own concerns are perfectly okay to have - your feelings are your feelings and shouldn't be diminished or disrespected - I hope you can be assured that your students aren't going to be having the same ones.

EDIT: Cross-posted with Karybu!

[ 07-29-2014, 05:03 AM: Message edited by: Volunteer Ruth ]

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Heather
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There seriously is no "typical teacher." We all look as different as all people tend to look.

Too? Truly good teachers don't dominate anyone in the first place, so no need to worry about not looking like a dominatrix. That's a very different job. [Razz]

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breath
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Nice joke, heather! [Smile] I love it.

Yes, I believe that students are most non-bias people and they are always impact by how engaging the material is , my own personality and abilities. It may actually be asset.

However, yesterday at teacher trainings, I was told by two people (colleagues, teachers) that I was "vertically challenged" (she meant it in a good way, I'm sure ) and/or the other person was surprised that i'd be working with nearly adults, b.c they assumed I'd be teaching "little kindergarden". Needless to say, that was a bit provoking my insecurities, esp since this will be new experience for me anyways.

I think ideas about an effective teacher is changing too..going from being a "boss" type to a more like an effective facilitator that helps student become more independent/self-regulate...

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Karybu
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It sucks that your colleagues made those comments, but hopefully you can see that it's their ideas that are problematic, not yours. I definitely agree with you and what Heather said that teachers don't dominate, they facilitate, if that helps at all.

It might be too, that you just need some time to settle in and some experience with your students to really feel 100% about your height not mattering. With some things, getting reassurance from someone else is only so useful, and we really have to experience it ourselves to feel totally secure.

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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breath
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Thanks so much.
I also remember this and thought of Scarleteen because somehow we have some social ideas about one particular height being the "perfect" height and anything that deviates from that is somehow disadvantageous.

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Karybu
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No problem at all. Happy to have this kind of discussion here!

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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acb
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Congrats on the new job!

I've been delivering workshops for a few years now and I often have a similar issue worrying that I don't look commanding enough to control a class because I'm often only a year or two older than the people I teach and I worry that they'll notice that. Although I'd like to reiterate massively what everyone else has said that there is no one way to 'look' like a teacher and what you do is way more important, if you're nervous about how you look it might make you more nervous when you're teaching.

It sounds to me like you know logically that your height doesn't affect the way you teach at all but you're having a bit of a harder time shaking off the insecurities. I've found power dressing makes me feel better for the first few classes until I feel a little more confident in my relationship to the students but I reckon that reassuring myself of my strengths as a teacher and going over my lesson plans makes me feel more secure than worrying about my appearance unduly. Is there anything you reckon you could do to remind yourself why you love your body as it is or reinforce your own convictions in your teaching ability?

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OhImpecuniousOne
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From the other end of the spectrum, I've been a student for many years now, and the age of my teachers, or how old they look, hasn't had much impact on anything. When I was in school and college, generally the younger teachers were the more popular ones, as a lot of us felt more relaxed around people who seemed like they were almost our peers - but of course a young teacher can turn out to be a hardass, or an older teacher can turn out to be lovely and to treat kids like adults. In university, it just became irrelevant - most of us got good enough at spotting whether or not a teacher knew what they were talking about, and was good at leading a group, that any unduly negative (or positive!) first impressions died pretty quickly. It really is about how you teach, not who you are. [Smile]
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