There’s nothing like a new teacher fresh out of college. These teachers have so much to offer. They are excited, full of ideals and passions, and ready to change the world. Their hearts are full and most have a desire to make a difference in the lives of children. If your child has a new teacher – rejoice!
I once heard this from a child who had been placed with an experienced teacher, “My mom wanted me to have a young teacher.” I understand – young teachers are vibrant, don’t have wrinkles, and seem to use the “newest trends” in teaching. Who wouldn’t want a younger teacher? If your child has a young teacher – rejoice!
What if your child has been placed in a classroom with an experienced teacher? Rejoice! This teacher has learned about kids and the classroom from not only continued professional development but from dealing with kids and the classroom on a daily basis. They know the ups and downs. They have come to know what works and what doesn’t work. They can apply their knowledge and experience to make things work for kids. If your child has an experienced teacher – rejoice!
If you have an experienced, older teacher with gray hair and wrinkles, one who has taught many years – should you rejoice? Should you be happy that “old” and “experienced” has been chosen for your child? Even some schools and districts struggle with a desire to keep these kinds of teachers around. Some would rather move them out, and allow younger more inexperienced teachers to fill the classrooms in the school. Is this honoring experience? Why would they not value such teachers, some of whom have been rated as highly effective teachers?
There might be a few reasons. Number one – older, experienced teachers are costly. Districts can get two younger teachers to replace one older teacher. Number two – some older, experienced teachers have become very passionate about their work with children. They are unafraid to question and disagree. They have seen many “fads” of teaching come and go. They are confident in their own work. Or maybe these teachers are valued as long as they don’t make waves, go with the flow, and do as told. Which leads us to number three – often these teachers wish to be involved with decisions concerning their students and classrooms. They want some autonomy. Others might see this as wanting their own way and being uncooperative. In many instances this couldn’t be further from the truth. We make a mistake when we do not listen and involve these teachers in the decision making process. It makes me sad to think we so easily – “throw these teachers away.” If you are a parent/guardian and your child has an older, experienced teacher – rejoice! An older, experienced, a highly effective teacher – knows their “stuff” and no one will fight harder for your child.
We value the work of new teachers fresh out of college. We value young teachers with a few years of experience. We value experienced teachers. We value older teachers with years in the classroom. They all make the world go round. Do we value teachers who question status quo, who dare to address concerns and problems, who are strong in knowledge and convictions? Being willing to question and speak up can come from years of working with students. Should we be afraid to choose experience?
Valuing experienced teachers is important. Articles have been written about how we need experienced teachers in low-income schools, schools where students have greater needs… The articles say choose experience. But how can we choose experience if we don’t value it? We all have something to learn from each other. Older, experienced teachers can still make a profound difference in the lives of children and the school. Don’t be afraid to choose experience!