Does years of teaching really make you a good teacher?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by VANewbie, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. VANewbie

    VANewbie Devotee

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    Aug 7, 2011

    I had this convo with one of my teacher friends yesterday over lunch. We teach at different schools and are both newer teachers. She was telling me about one of her teammates who has years of experience and everyone thinks she is the best thing since sliced bread.

    My friend knows different(or so she says) because she works closely with her. She said her other teammates are fairly new. Maybe 6 years or less experience and they are always trying new things and trying to improve while this other teacher just sticks with what she knew in all her years.

    So does years of experience really make you a good teacher? She also said that they had a new P last year who never went into the experienced teachers room because it was assumed she was so good at what she does.

    Now maybe this lady is a good teacher but it just got me thinking.
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I don't think years alone can make someone a good teacher. But years of reflection with your teaching can. This teacher has probably tried much of what the younger teachers are trying out and has found something that works.

    When I look back at my first year I know that I have made tremendous gains in my teaching, learning, and thinking about students. I've read more, I've listened more, I've changed. But back then, I thought I was doing a pretty good job...
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Maybe the veteran teacher sticks with what she knows works;) your friend may try new things, and being open to trying new things is good...but it should always be about good teaching and facilitating learning. As a new teacher in a building, how does your friend know who's good and who's not? I'm a veteran teacher and truthfully, I may have a feeling for what goes on in other classrooms, but I don't know for certain since I'm not in there...I'm too busy doing my job to worry about how good someone else is...although i do engage in discourse with other professional educators and learn from them as well...
    That said, years do not equate to quality. Good teaching, reflective practice, ongoing PD, a passion for learning...yeah those can lead to a great teacher, regardless of years.
     
  5. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    I think teachers with a lot of experience know what works *for them*. There are a million ideas out there and it's good for newer teachers to try them on. But over time you learn that some things that work wonderfully for someone else are not right for you. A teacher with years of experience knows that, and uses the methods that succeed in his/her classroom.

    I also think slagging senior people is a pretty common hobby. So take what you hear with a grain of salt. Maybe it's true, and maybe it's just a way of blowing off steam.
     
  6. VANewbie

    VANewbie Devotee

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    i kind of felt the same way. I did not say anything though. :whistle:
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Here's how my principal explained it once:

    Some teachers have twenty five years of experience.

    Others have one year of experience, twenty five times.

    I think I'm a much better teacher now than I was in 1980. I think I've grown in many ways too numerous to count. From knowing the material, to knowing how to manage the kids, to knowing what to expect the day before exams or the first time it snows or a day when the power goes out unexpectedly-- these are all things that experience has brought me.

    But it can't change a bad teacher to a good teacher. It can only give the opportunity for a teacher to grow; it's not automatic.
     
  8. Lynn K.

    Lynn K. Habitué

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    I don't think experience necessarily makes you a good teacher. There are plenty of teachers who have been at it for a long time, and are no longer excited or motivated.

    However, only time allows the opportunity to get better. I am a WAY better teacher now than I was 10 years ago.
     
  9. Mrs.SLF

    Mrs.SLF Comrade

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    Aug 7, 2011

    :yeahthat: :D
     
  10. Drama Teach

    Drama Teach Rookie

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    I think the more years you have as a teacher the more experience you have dealing with situations that come up in the classroom. I am going into my second year and everyone tells me after year 3 you really start to get in a grove and I can not wait for that.
     
  11. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    I do agree with the part that with experience you learn strategies that work and don't work. I just have an issue with teachers who refuse to change with the times such as learning about new teaching strategies. I've only been a teacher for 6 years and I've already seen many changes in teaching. If this keeps going, I don't see how I'm going to be teaching the exact same way in 10 years as I'm teaching now. Even every year I need to adapt according to the type of students and not one year has been the same.

    I also don't like to see the division of new teachers vs. experienced teachers attitude. I do see that new teachers bring new fresh knowledge while experienced teachers bring experienced knowledge. I believe that it would be great when both groups have the attitude of "What can I learn from you".

    New teachers need to treat experienced teachers with a lot of respect and value their knowledge and viceversa. I'm a big believer that the best teachers combine the old with the new. :2cents:
     
  12. sjnkate

    sjnkate Rookie

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    Well said! :thumb:
     
  13. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    It's funny--I was going to post this exact same comment! One of my former ed leadership professors (who coincidentally was also my elementary school principal) said this to our class once, and it always stuck with me!

    I have known many teachers with years of experience who I have always looked up to as my mentors. They have clearly mastered the art and science of teaching, and are great at what they do. There are others, though, who are just putting in time until their retirement. Fortunately, I would say that all of the teachers that I currently work with fall into that first group.
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    But czacza also brought up a great point: none of us really knows what goes on in someone else's classroom.

    The only time I have any sort of an inkling into another teacher's style is when I'm giving a test. Then I enjoy listening to Kevin teach his world history class. He's LOUD-- I imagine some of you have heard him when he got really animiated. From that tiny little glimpse, I know that I would love to be in Kevin's class-- there's aqpparently nothing he doesn't know.

    But that tiny little glimpse aside, I'm too busy teaching my own classes to have any idea as to how others are teaching. And as to the kids' comments-- these are the kids who are BFFs with half the known universe and who change the love of their life and their life's ambition on a weekly basis.
     
  15. nstructor

    nstructor Cohort

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    Good points! I don't think anyone can say if someone is a good or bad teacher, unless that person is in their classroom for LONG periods of time!
     
  16. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    :yeahthat:
     
  17. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I agree with what everyone else has said...it can make you better, but simply having experience isn't going to turn a bad teacher into a good one. I've only been at this for one year and I already feel like I'm starting this next year with so much more knowledge! I am really excited to try some new things out in my room also.

    I see both sides of the "trying out new strategies" thing. I think there are older teachers out there who think they know what works, but how do they know any different if they haven't tried anything new in the past 20 years? Maybe what they're doing "works", but is there a new strategy that might be even better? One that might reach more students? On the other hand, I think a lot of ideas in education are "recycled." I grew up in a family of teachers and have seen this first hand. A lot of the "new" ideas around today are simply old ideas that people think are good again. Take phonics for example. My dad has been teaching for a long time and was around when "whole language" became the new thing when his building had previously taken a phonics first, comprehension second approach. His P literally came into his room and physically took out all of the phonics/decoding books because they were to teach nothing but whole language. Fast forward 10 years, and now they're way back into the phonics approach- so much so that they're bringing in tutors to do the Orton Gillingham approach. I use Orton Gillingham for some of my students per district mandate. My director found it last year, trained all of us on it and insisted we use it. She went on and on about how it was "the new thing." I mentioned it to my dad and he told me it was very popular when he was in college over 20 years ago! So it may not be that they're not willing to try a "new" idea, it may be that this is the same idea they tried 10 years ago!

    Our "ESS team" at my school is really young. This past year I was a first year, the SLP was a 2nd year, the pscyh was a 1st year, and the OT was a 4th year. We had meetings together every Friday to talk about data and students, etc. What I thought was interesting was that they often mentioned teachers being older as if it were a bad thing- implying that the teacher didn't know much because they hadn't been in school for 20 years and was still using old ideas. While in general, older teachers tend to imply that younger teachers don't know much because they don't have as much experience. I agree with the above comments about mutual respect. Veteran teachers and newer teachers need to learn from each other. Veteran teachers should not have the attitude that they are above others because they have experience, and that new teachers need to "put in their time" to earn respect. Newer teachers should not assume that they know more than everyone else simply because they've been in classes more recently.
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Excellent point, waterfall!!!!

    They say that everything old is new again, particularly in education.

    Sometimes the reason a new approach isn't openly embraced is because it's already been tried, perhaps under a different name, and turned out to be a nightmare. (New York's Sequential math, anyone????)
     
  19. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    good teachers generally become great teachers over time. Bad teachers tend to get worse over time.
     
  20. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Yes, yes, yes. Exactly. I agree with Marci that teachers should always be looking for ways to do better. But sometimes the experienced teachers refuse to re-create their curriculum around a "new" idea because it's not new.

    Also, I think there are people who are just doing outstanding work. Waterfall, you said maybe they could reach more kids. My colleague teaches English and 100% of her students pass the (very challenging) AP Lang exam. How many more kids could she reach? I look at her and think that for some teachers, experience has been a path to excellence and I aspire to that level of achievement.
     
  21. katie11

    katie11 Rookie

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    Well said exactly. My mind thinks the same.
     
  22. each1teach1

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    Not sure what I can add that hasn't already been said. Experienced doesn't mean effective, but neither does veteran mean antiquated. Being fresh out of college doesn't necessarily give you a leg up on the old heads and being an old head doesn't mean you're doing a better job than the newbies. Growth as a teacher has to be intentional, you don't accidentally get really good and really effective. It takes reflection and a bit of trial and error. However, if you've been at it for 25 years, your trial and error isn't going to be as obvious, especially not to a newbie who is having to toss out entire concepts that aren't working while you merely tweak here and there.
     

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