Monday, September 02, 2013
Why Teaching Experience Counts. My Story.
I was appalled by the New York Times inaccurate "puff piece" on charter schools and why teacher experience is unimportant. In fact some misguided Administrator claims that teacher experience is a drawback. How unreal. You can read the NYT article here. Moreover, look at the rebuttal article from a retired teacher and the overwhelming response here. I can tell you that when I look back to my first couple of years teaching, I made plenty of mistakes, didn't fully understand the curriculum and my classroom management skills were atrocious. Yes, my enthusiasm was boundless and I was willing to work with my students on a moment's notice. However, overall, I was no better than a developing teacher who had much to learn. I looked to the more experienced Science teachers to help me overcome my many teaching deficiencies, especially when it came to classroom management.
The two teachers that mentored me had a combined experience of 46 years in the classroom and when I went to observe them, I saw a peaceful classroom with many students engaged and asking rapid fire questions with the two teachers carefully explaining how things worked. Both teachers didn't teach to the test, what they did was to show how everyday items were employed and applied it to Science. Furthermore, they also taught in an interdisciplinary matter incorporating history, math, and other Sciences to give the students a total education that lasted through their adult years.
Here I was, a newbie teacher, requiring a steep learning curve and "teaching to the test". My poor students weren't given the opportunity to ask in depth questions nor could I have answered them in my first year of teaching. Is it any wonder that my student's Regents scores were lower than the other two teachers? I felt bad that I let my students down. However, by my third year I had the experience to seamlessly incorporate the very lessons that my two mentor teachers were using and my students Regents scores improved, finally by my fifth year reaching the scores of the students my two mentors obtained. As I gained more experience, I saw a gradual increase in my students Regents scores.
I now am in my 20th year and I can tell you that each year I learn more and more and refine my teaching style to make it comfortable and exciting for my students. In my early years I felt sorry for my students that they had an inexperienced me as a teacher but now I am impressed that my students only have good things to say about me that it was a pleasure having me as their teacher and that makes me proud.
Ask the students if experience counts!