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Teachers with 5+ Yrs Experience: What Are You Learning of Late?

August 25, 2017

I have just begun my 23rd full time year of teaching and 18th year in the public school classroom.

During the course of this week, I  wrote  three  posts that centered upon Teach for America (TFA), an organization known for enlisting college graduates whose majors were overwhelmingly not in education to agree to two-year teaching stints in K12 classrooms and then moving on to an education advocacy that centers on corporate reform, including the opening of charter schools, the starting of education businesses, and the procuring of educational policy slots that serve to further advance TFA as a permanent presence in America’s K12 landscape.

What I learned about myself this week is how unimpressed I am with young people who possess charisma, excellent communication skills, and the tech savvy to share their K12 classroom experiences but who leave the K12 classroom prematurely (i.e., with fewer than five years of full time, K12 classroom experience) in the name of advancing public education.

I didn’t realize just how empty such promotions were to me until only days ago. After all, youthful enthusiasm can be a siren song to a veteran public school teacher.

Minimal K12 classroom experience dulls that song.

As such, for those young, enthusiastic individuals, I have only one response: Remain at least five full-time years in the K12 classroom, then advocate.

But enough about me. I invite my seasoned teaching colleagues to tell their stories about what they are learning of late professionally. Feel free to share stories that touch the shaping of your own professional views as well as any classroom tips.

The comments section is now open. 🙂

I look forward to reading your responses.

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. This is my 19th year of teaching and I learn something new everyday. I experiment with technology, not only for me but to expand my students’ learning curve as well. How else do you teach your children to be life long learners if you aren’t willing to be one.

  2. Every year I learn anew just how much students of all ages bring into the classroom in terms of what might be called “baggage” and how it can affect their learning, and how important it is that we deal with that so that healing *and* learning can happen, and generally in that order. The very real neurological, emotional, and behavioral effects of poverty and of ACE’s (which are both being exacerbated by the opioid crisis) play a larger part than ever in my approach to reaching & teaching students.

    When I went back to get the credits I needed for recertification after taking time off to be at home with my kids, I stumbled into Early Childhood education, which has opened up an entirely new area of understanding that changed my career but also informs the way I view older kids too, and how I teach them, with a mind to how the academic and developmental groundwork laid during their first 8 years impacts their development & learning in the NOW, when I’m the one interacting with them as a teacher.

  3. campak14 permalink

    “Teach for America (TFA), an organization known for enlisting college graduates whose majors were overwhelmingly not in education to agree to two-year teaching stints in K12 classrooms and then moving on to an education advocacy that centers on corporate reform, including the opening of charter schools, the starting of education businesses, and the procuring of educational policy slots that serve to further advance TFA as a permanent presence in America’s K12 landscape.”

    This is a beautifully written analysis that sums up why we are sitting in the Orwellian dystopia we now find ourselves in.

    When educational experience is centered on the paternalistic view that “we know what’s best for children,” and curricula is structured around an instructional psychology similarly used in dog training, where knowledge is fragmented outside the learners consciousness, you will have a learning experience that is based in authoritarianism.

    You need unwitting “do-gooders” to act as functionaries” of this system In order to deploy educational experiences centered on Radical Behaviorism and TFA serves that role nicely.

  4. Jennifer White permalink

    I am learning how to step out of my comfort zone and adjust to new school, more grade level team teachers than I am use to, and moving grade levels while a school that once had 300 students now has 600 due to school closings. I am learning that combining school cultures is a tedious challenge. I am also learning just how much the power of quality literature can have with students who are hungry for it.

  5. anonymous permalink

    I’m learning just how important it is to support and love the families of my students no matter what. I probably always fell into the ‘momma hen’ category, but now that I’ve been at my current school for a few years, I’m getting the (challenging) siblings of former (sometimes challenging) students and am able to hit the ground running after building trust with the parents. The needs of some students are so great, and the tendency to want to blame the parents so convenient. What I’ve learned some thirty years in, is that parents are doing the best they can given the situation. The more we stick together, the more progress that child will make.

    Professionally, I’m learning there are really no new ideas, just recycled, repackaged, re-branded old ideas, that waste enormous amounts of time, money and energy. Kids need experiences and real-life conversations and interactions and attention. Anything less sends the message that they are not important or good enough.

  6. After 19 years full-time in the classroom, I’m now an instructional coach and regional coordinator for 25 school districts.

    I’m reminded, when I come into the office at 8 and start my day with checking my email and brewing a cup of coffee, that classroom teaching is the most intense, rewarding, frustrating, exhausting, important work in the world.

  7. 27 years as a secondary science teacher, and I continue to learn:

    1. A few years ago I stumbled into a Reading Specialist program. It expanded my vision and made me SO much better as a teacher of children rather than a teacher of science.

    2. Appropriate balance is a moving target. 25 years ago I lobbied for more technology in the classroom. Today I lobby for less.

    3. Deep learning is a messy marathon. Administrators want a tidy daily plan where you introduce a concept, students practice and master it, you assess and reteach and re-assess, all in 50 minutes. I can play that game when I need to, but I don’t pretend it’s what’s best for students.

    4. Everything is about connections and relationships. I have to re-learn that every day.

  8. Gary Lamb permalink

    Are you aware of this upcoming TV special celebrating public education?
    Me thinks it ain’t good.
    Gary Lamb

    • Jack Covey permalink

      Peter “CURMUDGUCATION” Greene has already written a takedown of this:

      Peter Green:

      (on XQ, the organization behind “Super Schools Live”)

      “When I wrote about the XQ competition two years ago, I noted that it combined the language of business (manage human capital) and the language of gee-whiz education amateurs who haven’t ever consulted someone who actually works in the field (What if we knocked down the walls?). That fits, because there aren’t many educators in sight. I was going to pore through leadership list for the XQ project, but there isn’t even a job title that involves education. Jobs’ co-chief, the other person to occasionally appear in the press materials, is Russlyn Ali, a lawyer who worked for the Education Trust and then became Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the US Departmet of Education under President Obama. Jobs will occasionally cite her ‘two decades in the education field’ but that’s just counting back to her 1997 launching of her first non-profit education project, College Track. Oh, and Amplify is a partner in this, too.

      “Jobs doesn’t use many of the dog whistles or talking points of reformsters, except for one that she really loves:

      “Jobs told the NYT, ‘The system was created for the work force we needed 100 years ago. Things are not working the way we want it to be working.’

      “In USA Today: The XQ Institute aims to ‘rethink’ American public high schools, which, it maintains, have remained virtually unchanged for a century while the world has transformed dramatically.

      ” ‘Schools haven’t changed in 100 years’ is the dead horse Jobs rides in on, a criticism that only makes sense if you don’t know what schools were actually like in 1917, and if you haven’t actually visited one in the last century.”

  9. Always learning more about how to teach writing effectively– most particularly how to give useful feedback in a timely fashion. And I’ve been finding ways to use internet resources to help with writing as well. I’ve also been playing with the sequence of grammar and usage instruction over the past few years.

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