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!


Pissedoffteacher said...

Agree. I could never have made it without all those experienced teachers who mentored me.

harvey said...

Yes we long time teachers stand on the shoulders of some great master teacher giants who shared their craft with us and on this Labor Day I say thank you to them. Chaz, I am in complete agreement with you on why experience counts.

Anonymous said...

I've been teaching 23 years and have
just experienced my first 2 days as an ATR. I am
52 years old and am at least 20 years older than the oldest of the 15 teachers and 2 administrators. They are all very enthusiastic and almost completely
inexperienced. Without the experience this school would fail miserably if not for the fact the the students have been hand picked. You could put Bozo in front of room and it would make no difference. I'd love to stay and mentor, but I'm on to another school at the end of the month. When I started teaching I had a mentor and it made all the difference. These teachers will reach burnout and failure at about the same time-- 5 years.

Jackie said...

Do you remember what it was like to teach prior to No Child Left Behind?
Do you feel as if teaching completely changed when No Child Left Behind was implemented?
Did you ever feel saddened by some of the changes?

My name is Jackie Owen. I am a former K-12 teacher. I taught from 1980-2009; I left K-12 to teach in higher education and pursue a doctoral degree. I am now a doctoral student at North Dakota State University. I am currently conducting research on the impact that No Child Left Behind had on teachers’ feelings about the teaching profession. The purpose of this email is to invite you to participate in an online survey related to my research.

My survey contains items of interest to anyone who has experienced change in education.

Please click on (or copy and paste) the following link if you would like to participate in this study. I would also appreciate it if you would forward this email to as many teachers as possible, even those who have retired or who lived out of state. The more people respond to this survey, the more impact the report is likely to have.

For more information about this study, you may contact:

Jackie Owen, M.Ed.
101 College St. SW
Valley City, ND 58072
cell: 951.288.5145

If you have any questions about your rights as a research subject, you may contact:

Kristy Shirley, BS, CIP
Research Compliance Administrator—IRB
toll free 1.855.800.6717


Jackie Owen, M.Ed., Doctoral Student
Education Doctoral Program
North Dakota State University