Streams

Open Phones: Is Experience Necessary For Teachers?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

With the first day of school getting closer and closer, we want to hear from teachers about whether they think experience is necessary. What's the benefit of energy and motivation when you're new to the job? Younger teachers: what do you have that can compensate for lack of experience? Or, what can a teacher with experience do specifically in the classroom that a new teacher can't? Teachers: call in and tell us what you think, 212-433-9692, 212-433-WNYC, or leave your comment below.

Comments [15]

Molly from Gowanus

I'd like to encourage Brian to ask students to call in and give an opinion on this question. Having taught in NYC public schools for 8 years, I find that students often have the most perceptive and astute observations about what makes for a strong teacher.

Aug. 29 2013 11:58 AM
Caitlin from Brooklyn, NY

The "new teaching methods" that were referred could easily be provided for experienced teachers by providing QUALITY professional development, including mentorship.

I've taught at two schools that used a residency model. When it's done well, it's better than any teacher education program I've seen.

Aug. 29 2013 11:56 AM
Joan from Bayside, NY

In what other profession would someone purposefully seek out an inexperienced person- be it a doctor, lawyer, financial adsivor, or whatever just because they might be more enthusiastic. In general an experienced teacher has better classroom management skills and discipline. They can teach more efficiently since they can often anticipate problem areas and student answers, because they have heard them before.

Aug. 29 2013 11:54 AM
Bob from SI

No one likes change, Teachers are always being asked to reinvent the wheel.
Common core, Whole language , etc New teachers are not resistant to a way to teach because this is there first time, They do not know any other system. Older teachers always ask why should i change, what i was doing was working.

Aug. 29 2013 11:52 AM
Kevin

My wife is a teacher and has been for a number of years now. She is of the opinion that a new career changing teacher is far more effective than a new teacher fresh out of college. Career changers are able to bring experiences that aren't education related, but experiences none the less.

Aug. 29 2013 11:52 AM
John A

Thinking 'I can beat all you mere mortals with my superior energy' is a very Dwight Schrute way to live, IE creepy.

Aug. 29 2013 11:52 AM
Henry from Yonkers

People participating in Teach For America seem to fit this bill, too. I have a lot of friends who have joined TFA because they believe in closing the achievement gap, but they only receive a Summer's worth of training (~4, maybe 5 weeks) before they are placed in some of the neediest schools in the country. These are places were kids can be tough to reach in the first place, much less keep their attention long enough to get them to learn something.

Enthusiasm is great, but I'm worried that my friends are being sent into a meat grinder because they weren't allowed the same kind of student teacher experience that people doing a Master's in Education are required to do.

Aug. 29 2013 11:52 AM
Beth from Brooklyn

Younger teachers have TIME. Usually, they don't have families, partners, and other outside responsibilities. Therefore, they can WORK more, and they work MORE for FREE! Why wouldn't a school want young teachers for this reason.

However, nothing matters more than experience! It gives you perspective, patience, flexibility, practice. What an absurd question. I'm a 10-year teacher. Is this young or old? Am I experienced or not?

Maybe teachers burn out because they are sick of hearing their profession being talked about as if experience might not matter! How disrespectful.

Aug. 29 2013 11:49 AM
Judy from Manhattan

"Curiouser and curiouser! "

One advantage to having only inexperienced teachers would be that they don't have any standards to rate the latest new solution to education's ills.

I'm so glad to be retired.

Aug. 29 2013 11:47 AM
mm

I remember it being really, really easy to manipulate new teachers and student teachers into being generous or easy going. And easier to harrass and play pranks on.

Good teachers are always good.
Bad teachers get worse when they get more exhausted from doing something they don't enjoy and are not good at.

Aug. 29 2013 11:46 AM
Miscellaneous from NYC

This is a circular question. Yes, teachers need to have experience, but they only get that experience by teaching.

There is a first time for everything. Lawyers need to work at law firms to gain experience and doctors need to do internships and residencies to get experience and teachers need to student-teach to get experience.

Aug. 29 2013 11:46 AM
eleniNYC from Jackson Heights

Wills11111 your mom's experience is both unfortunate and highly believable but it's also important to remember that Private School teachers, whom I respect greatly, mostly becuse they work for even less money, teachers who work in Private schools typically are awaiting to find public school positions. More over, it's not the Union hacks who are protecting teachers who should be fired, it's the principals and other administrators who protect their "buddies". But that isn't the question which you have evaded. "Seniority" & "job security" are words [mis]used way too liberally to have any real value so let's NOT use it.

The Question is: Is EXPERIENCE a necessary requirement to be in the classroom?
Well what kinds of "experience"? In the Board of Ed. Teachers have come from all types of experiences that, for the most part have been positive. I have collegues who have worked on Wall Street, and are teaching economics and Math, I have collegues who have worked for sports companies and taught the "science of sports" and began cycling programs which have been beneficial to the health of the students.

Perhaps the Questions we should be asking is: Should teachers be more invested in teaching rather than the Teach for America Corps. is pushing for: 2yrs and out?

How fair is it to have disinterested, non-invested teaching candidates working in sectors of the population who are below the poverty-line? How fair is it to have individuals view the teaching profession as a transition toward their next career?

Should it then be asked: Isn't it necessary to have dedicated individuals who are invested educators who are willing to try and help those become more literate leading toward being more independent learners and more self-sufficient. Those teaching strategies, I can tell you from "experience" can only be developed in the trenches
require creativity and open-mindedness to other strategies --on the instructor's end

THe City is spending so much $$$$$ and no results -- well we have a mayor who tried to trash the system
through overpaying in non-bid contracts to his friends
A mayor who has cut after-school programs in the name of "saving money"

Younger teachers are cheaper, but I was a younger teacher, and I learned immensly both good and bad from my more veteran collegues. More over I am a veteran collegue, and I still learn fro my new teachers as well as my peers

Aug. 29 2013 11:46 AM
Guy from NYC

Is "burnout" an issue for teachers--or radio hosts or any professional? Of course, but the degrading of classroom experience obscures the real systemic reasons for burnout (you try working as a teacher in this climate of public disparagement of teachers and their unions) while offering cover for a particular, limited view of education "reform."

The acceptance of the notion that experience is not necessary for excellence in teaching shows the extent to which a particular ideology has captured the public discourse. This approach is pushed by people who otherwise demand data driven approaches to education, who somehow feel authorized to make unscientific, unsupported claims about "energy" and "motivation."

Would we seriously prioritize or even entertain the argument that police or firefighter "burnout" makes it necessary to shuffle in a herd of young strivers on their way to the next resume point as Teach for America has promoted? This notion is so obviously convenient to an anti-teacher, union busting agenda that it should be defended and discussed in public forums like this.

Such an agenda appeals to those who haven't stepped foot in a classroom, and thus have no idea how important classroom management is to the kinds of outcomes everyone claims to want. Perhaps more importantly, the systemic damage these well meaning "Teach for a Resume" types (who have colonized US education backed by monied interests) has done will take years to discover and repair.

At least this segment will put this issue on the public's agenda. Should we privilege without question the views of a squad of self interested temporary teachers and their consultant and corporate backers, or take more seriously the view of education professionals willing to invest a lifetime in our childrens' future?

Aug. 29 2013 11:19 AM
Estelle from Brooklyn

I taught English in NYC high schools for many years. During my first year I had to proctor a standardized test for my freshman homeroom class. The students were jumping out of their seats and, yes, my classroom was a "zoo." A teacher monitoring the hall walked into the room, stood near my desk and the students got quiet and took their seats.

Jump forward ten years. I was the teacher in the hallway who walked into a classroom of unruly students. I stood in front of the room and the students settled down and took the test.

Experience is the explanation. It takes years to know how to stand, how to talk, how to get students to listen.

My first year I taught a lesson and was thrilled to see my students get into it. When I later tested them, I discovered they didn't understand the material at all. After years of teaching, I learned that beyond being lively and stirring up enthusiasm, I had to communicate what the students had to learn, and I learned how to do it.

Aug. 29 2013 11:17 AM

Public school costs are so high and outcomes so poor because teachers are paid by seniority, completely entrenched by the unions, and virtually impossible to fire. They are paid way above market rate—just look at the higher quality of teachers, vastly better outcomes, and much lower wages in private schools.

Why have we accepted that teaching "should" be a job that one can raise a family of four on? I did my undergrad studies at Harvard, where much of the actual classroom instruction is done by grad students. Why shouldn't teaching be something one does for the first year or two out of college—especially if that would improve education? It's absurd that the main concern of the education establishment has become teacher job security and teacher wages—clearly at the expense of the children they're supposed to be educating.

Everyone talks about how teaching is the "most important job" in the world. In what other critical job do we offer lifetime tenure and sharp wage increases over time with almost NO substantive job review or incentive for excellent work?

Both my parents are academics—one a professor, the other a junior-high teacher, and both taught in private schools. My mother, a lifelong liberal democrat, couldn't stand working with the hacks in public schools and believes teacher's unions to be the enemy of public education. She's right, of course.

Aug. 29 2013 11:01 AM

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