Hold your horses, Millennial teachers. I know when we think of older people we think stubborn, naggy, and judgey, but maybe we shouldn’t.
My mom really got me together after my first Blog entry, “You Let Your Students Call You What” (check it out here:https://teachertay.com/2019/02/16/you-let-your-students-call-you-what/ ). She gave her side to it and it gave me a different perspective. Mom shared that when she started teaching, she was also young and her first year experience was tumultous. Her students realized that she was young and it caused conflict. Using her last name not only created a formal boundary between her and her students, but also gave her power and confidence in her new position. I had never thought of it that way because although my first year teaching was a bumpy road filled with life-lessons, our experiences were still very different. She also got on me about my portrayal of older teachers as judgemental and unwilling to change. The conversation helped me grow as a young teacher and reminded me that different does not mean wrong.
Young teachers, are you still there? You know people say we don’t read! All jokes aside, let’s take a look into why I think veteran teachers are awesome:
- Most of the time, age comes with wisdom. Millennial teachers might have the vets beat with fresh and new ideas (or so we think), but veteran teachers know what works! Our ultimate goal as teachers should be that students are learning and hitting their growth targets. Milly-rocking and dabbing as a brain-break may ensure student engagement, but nowhere is that on my list for things they need to know for Kindergarten. Veteran teachers are a great resource for ideas you would’ve never thought of and they are tried and true. I love getting the opportunity to talk to teachers and getting to walk through their classrooms. No professional development in a computer lab could ever measure up to digging through a veteran teacher’s math center. Ever.
- Experience is the best teacher and they have lots of it. Want to know if the old curriculum for learning the alphabet works better than the new curriculum? Ask the veteran! Want to find field trips that align with your unit on beetles? Ask the veteran. Want to know the cheapest place to buy Mavalus tape? Ask the… well you get it. They’ve been in your position before. They’ve had to change curriculums randomly and had children regress and not know why. Not only do they have the best stuff in their classroom, but they also have awesome stories. I know this point is kind of like my first one, but tips for the classroom and tips for life in general are different. Honestly just going in teacher’s rooms and listening to their stories from where they started to where they are has always really inspired me. Remember the 20-year teacher and the 3-year teacher both have unique and meaningful stories.
- It’s time to bridge the gap between old school and new school. At the end of the day, we can all learn from each other. New teachers and veterans each have something different to bring to the table and we should never forget the importance of all of us having a seat at the table.
The most important thing I’ve learned from listening to my mom and other teachers who I admire is that a teacher should never stop learning. You can avoid a lot of missteps that way.