Inspired by the ridiculously awesome Miss At (can I be best friends with her, please?), here are some tips for young or young-looking museum educators!
A little background: Despite my best efforts, folks usually think I am between the ages of 15-18. In fact, just last month one of my own students exclaimed, upon hearing that I am 24: “I thought you were my age!” So, after reading Miss At’s tips for young teachers, I have adapted her great advice for those of us in the field of museum education.
- Dress nicely (i.e. no jeans) until a few months into your program.
- Wear your museum employee ID visibly at all times. (This is more helpful for docents who like to inform you that “you look just like one of the teens!” when walking through the middle of your class discussion about Monet.)
- Send a note home to parents about the program, what their kids will be up to, and expectations. I don’t currently do parent contact beyond the teens’ initial application and signing a media release form (because I want to keep the museum teen program from feeling too school-y), but I think I’ll start—it’s a really nice idea to give parents a heads up and get their investment. Plus, it shows the kids you’re serious about attendance and requirements.
- Miss At says: “It’s a lot easier to be tough [at the beginning] and then loosen up than it is to be a push over and then expect to have authority and respect later on in the school year.” YES.
- Miss At also says: “Show your students how much you respect them and care for them. If you show them you think they’re important and worth your time and energy, I promise they will bend over backwards for you!” A bazillion times yes. I learned this with my first museum teaching experience when I was 16 years old, and I never forgot it. Respecting students is the absolute key to good teaching practice.
By the way, if you have not read Hey Miss At yet, go do yourself a favor and read all the posts. It’s the best.