Friday, June 15, 2007
The Value of Experience
I have been inspired by a young teacher to create my own blog. My young colleague has a blog of her own in which she shares her unique and fresh perspectives on the current state of education. Her essays are beautifully written and clearly express the passion she has for teaching. When I read her blogs I am reminded of my first years in the teaching profession. Her blogs advocate pushing our classrooms into the 21st Century and reveal a healthy impatience with the culture of "this too shall pass;" those teachers and administrators who drag their heels on positive change, waiting for the collapse that will allow them to maintain the status quo. I am encouraged that my profession continues to attract young teachers who are bright, passionate, and willing to persevere in the face of the complex obstacles that make teaching a seemingly unattractive vocation.
I hope I will provide as much inspiration to this young teacher as she has provided me. And this is where the value of experience becomes important. I have never lost my passion for teaching. Over the past twenty years I have had many opportunities to lose that passion, but somehow nothing has shaken me from my mission. The list of obstacles to maintaining a deep passion for teaching really hasn't changed: poor salaries, some poorly trained colleagues, people who come into teaching to get their summers off, children from tragically dysfunctional families, politicians who make public schools their favorite punching bags, and the overwhelming challenge of pushing a monolithic bureaucracy mired in 19Th Century philosophies into the technology dominated world in which our students must learn to survive and thrive. With all these challenges, it's obvious that great young teachers need great experienced teachers. Experienced teachers who have kept their fires burning and creative juices flowing must be there for these gifted beginners. We can show how surrounding yourself with positive colleagues and always seeking to improve your practices leads to a long and satisfying career. And from these young teachers, we veterans can renew our spirits and continue to grow, both personally and professionally.