First Year Teachers vs. Veteran Teachers: The Secondary Edition
We all have our influential core convictions regarding education. Whether the topic is classroom management, instructional practices, or year long schooling, our beliefs are the collection of our experiences. To specify, by “experiences” I am referring to things like the content (reading, podcasts, videos) we engage with, the teacher preparation program we attended, and the types of professional learning we partake in. Together this collection comprises our professional and dynamic profile.
But it is important to understand our educational beliefs and profile with two qualifying “maxims.” The first is a powerful reminder about the variety of voices in the choir of the education profession. None of them individually is the holder of a singular professional truth. In other words, there is no Gray’s Anatomy for education. Instead, we have a constellation of models and research that when seen together provide coherency.
The second maxim is a quote from one of my favorite education theorists, Chris Edmin. He notes that “The kind of teacher you will become is directly related to the kind of teachers you associate with.” Being intentional about developing a professional network is equally important to having an awareness of the network’s impact on your educational profile.
With these ideas in mind, explored the beliefs of a first year and veteran (over 10 years) teacher using the same five interview questions. As you review their responses below, look for some nuggets of information you can apply to your discussions with schools and districts.
|What is the most rewarding aspect of teaching?
|First Year Teacher: Seeing a student have that light bulb or “a-ha” moment.
|Veteran Teacher: Developing meaningful relationships with students and knowing that you can help them become their best self.
|What is the most challenging aspect of teaching?
|First Year Teacher: There are lots of demands for teachers’ time. The “to do” list is constant
|Veteran Teacher: The competition for student attention is difficult. This has grown significantly.
|What is something you wish you knew before you got into a profession?
|First Year Teacher: The real financial challenges that happen. I heard about it, but it wasn’t real until I started teaching.
|Veteran Teacher: Education and the perception of teachers would be a political issue.
|What is a piece of wisdom you would like to offer other educators?
|First Year Teacher: Find a good mentor. Be patient. Ask questions.
|Veteran Teacher: Each year, including the summer, do something that is going to add a skillset to your expertise. Always look to improve your craft.
|What is one thing about education that could be improved you would do it?
|First Year Teacher: Incentives to enter teaching and stay in the field.
|Veteran Teacher: Class size would be set to something like 1:15. This would allow for greater feedback and the building of meaningful relationships
In addition to knowing teachers’ beliefs about education, it is equally important to know how schools are promoting a vision of education. Knowing the professional learning plans of schools, as well as any programs they use to mentor teachers, is an opportunity to become a valued partner. With that input, your organization is well situated to become part of educators’ and the school’s profile. And that is a powerful position to be in!
Written by: Craig Perrier
Educational Thought Leader and Practitioner
Craig is the High School Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction Specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, VA. He also is an online adjunct professor of education for Framingham State University and the teacher certification program, Educate VA. Previously, he taught at American Schools in Brazil for six years and for six years in public schools in Massachusetts.
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