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Experienced vs. Newbie Teachers: Why Education Needs to Ditch the Binary Trap

Liz Dwyer

You know the archetypes: the new teacher with fresh ideas and energy, and the veteran, stuck-in-the mud educator. But at a time when "urban schools are flooded with new teachers" who quickly burnout and "find they are not necessarily as in touch with students’ needs as they expect to be," Ariel Sacks says we need "teachers who continually learn from each experience" and "will be prompted to try new things in response to new questions that come with each group of students and changing times."

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  • Sally Melanie de Lourenco

    While I think this is an interesting and incredibly relevant discussion for all of us to have as we wonder how the powers that be will remake our education system in their own image, I think the root problem with teachers and progress has little to do with experience level. In the end, we are training and educating teachers to look at, discern, teach, and express themselves in a certain way. The degree programs for education have changed very litte - as have the professors teaching them by the way. What's happening is that they - professors, universities, certification programs, classes - are not mirroring our modern society with all that this encompasses. Bringing technology into the classroom isn't enough. Trying to meld a variety of teaching modalities and old worn out schools of thought to create something derivative that's labeled as "new", isn't enough.

    What we need is to understand how our mind's and lives have been progressively rewired to communicate and learn in new ways. Our world-centric culture, it's no longer about your tribe or your state or your country - needs to be reflected in the college classroom and any certifications and follow up meetings and conferences that existing teachers attend. There are some teachers in schools that just won't get it, and honestly, won't want to get it. That does NOT make them redundant. They have strengths and passions just like anyone else. But in a factory model educational system, how in the world would you even begin to assess and then USE someone's existing strengths and passions?

    I came upon a school (private no less) in Princeton New Jersey where the director had told me they'd discovered that if they had their elementary students go to certain specialty teachers for specific subjects the kids learned better and the teachers taught better. What an interesting idea? To look at the human being - both teacher and student - as a person, rather than an object that must perform a certain task or be programmed in a certain way? Novel, indeed.