I didn’t mean for this to be a rant, but I think I was on the right blog to leave this comment:
I was once a young teacher. It is not so far into my distant memory that I can’t vividly remember exactly what it felt like to be nervous about teaching a new reading strategy. Those days were exciting and passionate and the work of the Young Teachers Collective should be heralded as a great way forward for many aspiring teachers.
I can’t help but feel, though, that in my current role of supporting teachers in a large urban district we have fetishized new teachers in a lot of ways. While we may insult their knowledge or experience and talk down to them in PD, it is the veteran teachers that I believe we are writing off the most. We hold new/innovative practices of the new teachers (at least those who have made it past their first year), on a pedestal, even if those practices are not sustainable or do not have the research to back them up. But the veteran teachers, the ones we are asking to retire early to bring down the budget, that end up receiving a lot of the “Jerk” rhetoric.
In saying things like “they won’t change” or “we just have to wait until they retire”, we are underestimating veteran teachers and their ability to be learners. I believe that anyone will change if you give them a compelling reason to do so, and because of the experiences that veteran teachers have gone through, many of the reforms are just not compelling.
Suffice it to say:
1. We should not be jerks to new teachers for going into teaching. We should also not fetishize new teachers as the hope of all mankind. I trust all teachers to build this together.
2. We should not be jerks to veteran teachers for staying in teaching. We should not denigrate their experience or stereotype them in a fixed mindset. I believe that most teachers want to grow, but they want to build upon their years in the classroom.
3. We should not be jerks to teachers. At all.