Sunday, February 15, 2009

Make New Friends

I was once a young teacher. I knew I had plenty to learn and looked up to the older, more experienced teachers to learn from.

On the other hand, the older, experienced teachers I worked with looked forward to working with they young, enthusiastic group the new teachers were part of. We worked together, shared materials and experiences and even partied together after school. Life, while hard, was good.

Things are different now. Administrators don't want the old, tenured teachers around. They don't want to pay our salaries out of their budgets and they don't want us speaking our minds, particularly when our minds are working differently than theirs. They assume that some of the kids are not learning not because they can't but because our teaching methods are stuck in the dark ages. It is easier to blame us than to accept reality. Experienced teachers are now being told that they are no good. They don't know how to ask questions. They don't know how to write tests. They know nothing about classroom management. Experienced teachers are being told to observe the young. They are attending workshops run by teachers just out of college. Experienced teachers are being pushed out of teaching.

Like Patterson, we were all young once. Like me, we will all grow old. If Patterson makes it to receive tenure, he will be grateful in a year or so when the administration of his school decides he is too old or too set in his ways to be worth keeping.

In my math classes I always say "make new friends" (in reference to learning new material) but "keep the old" (the stuff you need to build on) "one is silver and the other is gold." Patterson, the teachers like me are the gold of the system. Your value will increase with time, if you make it that long.


WriterRichO said...

I'm glad I have the luxury of being old enough to have reverence for both the Tier one, twos, and threes, as well as, the newest of the newbies with all their unbridled and, sometimes, misguided entitlement issues. May we all achieve tenure, if it still exists by the time (I, we) get there.

Have a great vacation everybody!

Highly Effective King Clovis said...

One of the things I love about my school is how everyone in the SS Department, young or old, gets along. We all go out once in awhile for "unprofessional development" and we all enjoy each other's company. I for one, always talk to older teachers about lessons they've done and they love it when I share ideas with them.

When I first started student teaching, the grad school brainwashers instilled in me this idea that all old teachers were bad, and just taking up space for the young impressional teachers. And while I did run into a co-op who seemed to be really looking forward to retirement, I learned something important. New teachers can't judge. Until you've been in the system awhile, you can't say anything.

Last year was my first year and I feel as though I've learned so much I may as well have been teaching for 10 years. If anything, that first year taught me something about the people who have done it for 20 plus years. It takes a special person to be able to do this job for that long. And while some may complain or give off the attitude that "don't care" the reality is that the majority of them really do care. They just aren't as idealistic as they once were.

Schoolgal said...

I cherish each teacher that guided me along the way, and years later when I became a staff developer, I looked to the staff developers with experience to continue to guide me. They told me that they appreciated the fact that I took their guidance seriously. It works both ways.


Rachel Grynberg said...

I think it's impossible to escape the fact that this generation of young teachers has been engendered in a culture that of ageism. I cannot connect with the young teachers at the schools in my building. They refuse to engage in conversation.

Curmudgeon said...

Agree with all of this but wanted to pile on ...

"They are attending workshops run by teachers just out of college."

Up here, it's workshops conducted by the _clueless_ teachers just out of college.

The last one for me was on meeting the state math standards. The presenters were from a school that had failed to meet standards three years in a row. They went to a conference and now were teaching the rest of us because they now knew how to teach.

You can't make this %&@# up.

Miss Eyre said...

I hope it goes without saying that I can't thank people like you, NYCEd., etc. enough for sharing your experience with the youngsters like myself. I think it's a shame that people like you are not getting the respect you deserve, and I understand that frustration with administration and bureaucracy doesn't mean you don't care deeply and passionately about the kids you teach.

I read Patterson's comment and I was disgusted. Word: My first year was at a school staffed almost entirely by noobs. I love being where I am now, where there are actually teachers over 30 who have taught in many different places in the city. They help me take the long view about the frustrations of my job and encourage me to improve my craft. They are gifts to younger teachers, not hindrances!