I’ll never forget the first time I felt my youth slipping away. For Halloween my fifth year of teaching, I showed up in a dress I had made. It was bright purple and I sewed colorful felt rockets, beakers, and pencils all over it. After fluffing out my naturally red, curly hair and tying it in a ponytail, I wasn’t dressed as Ms. Frizzle. I was Ms. Frizzle.
I was met with so many Who are yous I lost track. One of my students said, “Oh, I’ve seen that show. It’s old, right?”
Kids are ruthless.
We asked our audience to share their moment of recognition that they had a few—or a few dozen—years on the rest of their coworkers. (Fair warning: You may want to read these in a place where you don’t mind laughing out loud.)
I realized I was one of the “seasoned” teachers in the building when …
My references fell flat.
“We had Decades Day and I was able to wear my Madonna clothes/leg warmers/black sunglasses that I wore in high school/college, and the younger ones hadn’t heard of my ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ reference. #80schick #bighair”
“When I referenced ‘Mr. Kotter and his Sweat-Hogs’ and only the principal laughed.”
“When I made a comment about having too many keys to the building so I called myself Schneider [from One Day at a Time] and no one around me understand that joke.”
“I said, ‘Time to make the doughnuts’ and no one understood I was making reference to the old Dunkin’ ad.”
“I told a coworker one day that I was channeling my inner Donna Summer and my coworker didn’t know who Donna Summer was.”
I did some simple and disappointing math.
“I learned I’ve been teaching longer than my principal has been alive.”
“I have an L.L. Bean fleece from college that’s older than some of the new teachers in my building.”
“On a night out, one of the other teachers was younger than the handbag I was carrying!”
“My car was older than my student teacher.”
Family ties shook me to my core.
“A new teacher came into my school, saw me, and asked me if I remember her from another school. I was her second grade teacher! She was pregnant at the time with her FOURTH child. I’m overly seasoned.”
“I’m only 52, but had a great-grand-student come through … the grandson of one of my students.”
“When I had the joy of having my own granddaughter in my 7th grade class.”
“When [my son] Hank’s two friends were hired to teach. ‘Hey, are you Hank’s mom? I’ve been to a party at your house.’ Me: ‘I don’t remember that.’ Then, ‘Yeah, you weren’t there.'”
“When I almost had to duct-tape my own mouth to keep from saying, ‘Your mother never would have acted like that!’”
Young people opened their sweet, baby mouths.
“One of my students raised his hand and said, ‘You have really old elbows.'”
“One of my pre-k–4 students noticed my graying hair pulled back into a ponytail and asked if I was George Washington’s mother.”
“I was writing in my planner and a colleague commented, ‘Ooh, I love when people write in cursive!’ I felt like I was churning my own butter. Also the fact that I still use a pen and paper planner …”
“When we were introducing ourselves in a department meeting this year and I said, ‘I’ve been teaching 23 years,’ and the next teacher said ‘I have been a teacher two years,’ and another chimes in, ‘And turns 23 this week …'”
“One of my new colleagues gave his age with ‘and a half’ at the end!”
I was suddenly the expert in the building.
“When I became a ‘teacher mom’ to younger teachers who joined staff! You know who you are.”
“People started coming to me to help them problem-solve.”
“A cyber attack shut down all technology and I was one of the few that could teach without PowerPoint.”
“The principal tells me it is my job to make the new teachers stop fighting with each other.”
Seasoned teachers, whether it’s your 15th rodeo or your 50th, we’re grateful you’re here. Your wisdom, your mentoring, and your voice of reason keep our rodeo in operation year after year, no matter how crazy those clowns get.