Teachers should be gatekeepers for admission into the profession, writes Nancy Flanagan of Teacher in a Strange Land in The Rusty Gate. In addition to raising the bar for entrance and “investing more time, resources and research on effective teacher development,” the teachers we’ve already got need more support, she writes.
Struggling teachers come in two basic flavors: #1) teachers who haven’t had sufficient experience or training to do the job well and #2) teachers who once had the disposition and tools to be good teachers, but have checked out due to cynicism, fatigue, bitterness and unforgiving working conditions.
Novice teachers often fear evaluation and try “to keep a low profile,” she writes.
One thing that can be done by accomplished veterans: asking newer teachers for their ideas, and approaching them as full colleagues, rather than those who need help. . . . Novice teachers ought to be considered for leadership roles, such as curriculum writing or the school improvement team, rather than dumping unwanted, time-sucking class advisories or club sponsor roles on them.
Some burned-out veterans “were once enthusiastic and creative, but had had their mojo squashed by a culture of anger and perceived betrayal,” Flanagan writes.
. . . a significant group of teachers who retain the potential to be very effective in the classroom have found the only “leadership” role open to them is fighting back against systemic change through their unions. They need to have their professional experience validated and acknowledged; they’re not going accept either praise or criticism from someone they don’t respect, but they have not stopped caring about their students’ learning.
There’s a chance to learn from veteran teachers, even those who seem to have “dried up,” she writes.