Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Climb Could Be Made Easier

Please don't think I have anything against young teachers. I don't. I too, was a young teacher once and haven't forgotten the crap I had to put up with to keep my job. Four preps was the norm in my school and we were all afraid to grieve because our AP was vicious and vindictive. She took work we did and published it in a book under her own name and kept all the profits for herself. She had us do everything short of cleaning her house after school was over but we might have done that too. It was the 70's. We were all young, married, some with families and we needed our jobs.

My problem with the young is not that they buy into all these new educational gimmicks and philosophies and only ask "how high" when told to jump, but with the arrogance and self righteousness I have seen some of these young people accept these new edicts. A teacher barely out of diapers had the nerve to tell a forty year veteran where she could buy a notebook to organize her lessons. They are always ready to point out what the older, more eperienced teachers are doing wrong. Maybe the old timers aren't as technologically savvy as the youth and maybe there are things they can improve upon, but these young kids do not have all the answers.

When I started out, I started teaching the lowest level classes and gradually worked my way up to teaching calculus and other advanced subjects. It was a long, difficult path, but I did it and looking back, it was the right way to go. Without understanding the processes that went into the learning in the lower levels it would be hard to get across more advanced materials.

I am a firm believer in not giving a new teacher all difficult classes. If we want to retain them in the profession, they need a balanced load. But, when I see a brand new teacher being given two or three trigonometry classes and all top classes, while senior teachers are being told they are not good enough to teach them, I see a problem. I see the youth being set up by administration as being "G-d's gift to the profession" while the older ones are being allowed to work because no one has the right to get rid of them.

The young teachers in my department are great. They are bright and enthusiastic and get along great with the kids. The math teachers here have standards, some are probably a little to high,thanks to Mr. AP, but standards nevertheless. From what I have seen, this is not true in other departments.

It is time to stop playing favorites. Treat everyone the same and things will be better. Older teachers will be willing to share acquired knowledge and the younger ones will share their technological skills and other techniques they developed. The resentment will end.

Teaching is a hard business. It is time to do what we can to make it easier. Making it easier for the teacher will inevitably make it easier for the student to succeed.


Anonymous said...


Miss Eyre said...

Thanks for your wise observations on this subject. Young teachers definitely need more support, but, as you correctly state, veteran teachers who are willing (or, well, forced) to take the more difficult classes deserve a lot more respect--and understanding--than they currently get. A profession that eats its young is never going to get anywhere.

Elaine C. said...


I don't agree with you on EVERYTHING... but definitely on most things.

And speaking as a young teacher... I prefer the more difficult classes. I like the challenge, I get along with the kids usually, and I'm JUST obnoxious enough with my kids that I can get about 99% of them to put in decent effort. And I do NOT pass anyone who hasn't mastered grade-level standards... regardless of seat time. (Tests are 75% of the grade, and I refuse to give Ds If you don't have at LEAST a 70%, you're not passing. If you don't have at least a 75%, you're in tutorial).