Monday, March 24, 2008

Bridging the veteran-and-new-teacher divide

This from the Los Angeles Times blog, The Homeroom:

I want to come clean about something that has bothered me since I started to teach: Veteran teachers get a bad rap.

And now comes the rather difficult part, explaining why this bad rap exists. I will generalize to best illustrate the point. The reason younger teachers are usually suspect of their veteran counterparts has nothing to do with actually seeing these teachers at work. Instead, it has to do with their sense of cynicism and skeptical disregard for proposed change.

As a corollary, most new teachers approach the school system as idealistically as you could possibly imagine. Wet behind the ears, a few too many feel-good-teacher-films under their belt, newer teachers are here to change the world. We are a brash generation of know-it-alls, and we are ever ready to fix all the problems that no one has fixed before! It’s this inexperienced naivete that is at the heart of the bad rap.

After a meeting one day, a veteran teacher said to me, “I was like you once.” We newbies don’t yet know what it feels like to have decades of attempted reform fail, to see the achievement gap widen, year after year. I was both confused and flattered by the remark. Somewhere along the way, school staff stopped viewing us as “teachers,” and we became either (in with) the new or (out with) the old...

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