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Celebrate and Embrace

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I just took two days off from school. My husband and I celebrated our silver wedding anniversary - 25 years! I have been married more than half my life. It has passed so quickly, and usually happily. It's the only thing I've done for that long - except for mothering.

In my school, like most any school, a lot of the teachers have many many years in the classroom. I look around and see combined centuries of experience. I like to take advantage of their experience - I now have only 3 years in - by asking questions and seeking advice. I celebrate the past through these teachers. These teachers are practical and knowledgeable. But some of our long-term teachers are not very enthusiastic, and react dubiously to new ideas. I hope I am not offending anyone, because I know experienced teachers have often "heard it before", and know why something may or may not work in the school. I'd just like to see a more positive attitude. I may seek out long-term teachers for information, but I don't go to them when I need an emotional lift.

I like to talk to the new teachers, the ones just arriving in the classroom from college or from other careers. These new teachers, without the experience, ask great questions and aren't afraid to answer their own questions with new ideas. They are enthusiastic and energetic, and arrive each morning with a positive face. Sometimes they come to me for an emotional lift, and I can give it to them by pointing out the markers of classroom success - a student who is excited by the class, or a procedure completed well. One of our new special educators struggled to write her first IEP, and when she was done, she was able to help another educator complete the same process. New teachers like to share, because they are eagerly gathering information and tools from others. I embrace the future through our new teachers.

I'm the older teacher, without much experience, who tries to come in with a positive attitude each morning and a smile for each professional in my building. I try to get help when I need it and give help when someone else does. I'm keeping my spirits up, and hope I can do something for yours.

After 25 years of anything, you can grow jaded, even bored. You can forget what's good and dwell on the bad. My husband and I spend three days together, enjoying the company, sharing memories. We also spent time talking about our dreams for the future, and what we could do and what we couldn't do. OK, no waterfront beach house in my future. But maybe we could do longer vacations, in faraway places. We might even get some new ideas. We have a lot of experience together, and we're trying to look ahead with enthusiasm. We're having a party this weekend with friends old and new. A hug to my husband for a nice anniversary.

Celebrate the past, embrace the future, and keep your spirits up. Advice for my husband and myself, and for my school.

8 Comments

I am a younger, but not new teacher. I've switched schools twice, trying to find the right fit. I wish the more established and experienced teachers would be celebrated by others more often. Perhaps this would lift them up. We should thank them for their commitment and for all the lives they have touched.

I have experienced the same in my school. I am just turning 40 years old, but this is my first year teaching. The more experienced teachers are not very encouraging to me, but the less experienced teachers are the ones who lift me up. Interesting.

Congratulations and Happy anniversary!
I'm about to celebrate my own milestone - my 55th birthday! I'm still a newbie teacher and after 1 full-time and 2 part-time years, I'm still learning.
I notice that most of the older teachers reflect on how the students are less capable now than past students. I'm not sure that is entirely true. But I do see that many students are needier on many levels. My fifth and sixth graders are seeking my attention more than I can remember from my 7 years as a teaching assistant. Does anyone else see that in their Middle-school students?

I truly enjoyed reading your article. I will be 40 years old in January 2008 and had it not been for losing 4 years due to child-rearing, I would have started my 20th year of teaching. Yes, I started my full-time teaching career at age 20! I went through a slump, hated it, let me find another profession, gripe and complain period But thank God--I got my passion back four years ago. I've done the whole gamut--preschool through university, including school and district level administration. Teachers do get tired and burned out but that's when they should do like I've done--take a break away from it. Use their powerful skills to plan, coordinate, organize, lead, etc. in another field. That's when they will realize whether they should return or remain in the new field. I am a teacher--to the core. I may not be teaching within the four walls of the classroom forever, but I'll be teaching someone, somewhere for the rest of my life!!! Neophytes--never lose your passion for teaching and always have love for your students and you'll be able to educate for a millenium!!!

I have read your article and please do not lump all experienced teachers into one ball. I teach in a school where there is a mixture of ages and experience. Experience does not mean that one is not open to new ideas or less enthusiasm or not have a positive attitude. Experience does not mean that one cannot learn from someone younger or just entering the teaching field. Experience does not mean that one is demeaning to those just entering the field. Experience can mean that one is still trying to do the BEST job and doing whatever it takes to do the job that way.

I always enjoy reading your articles and as a teacher I get an emotional lift when i read your articles. I am also looking for a career change- a special educator. I am an Indian who experienced the same in schools both in India and in the schools where Indians work. At present I am working in Dubai where most of the teachers are Indians and I found the experienced teachers are more interested in gossiping (as outdated Indians do)and giving all the trouble to new teachers than extending helping hands. Ofcourse there are a few very good senior teachers who are trustworthy too.


I was very sad to read your comments concerning experienced teachers. I do not think it is fair of you to say that “older, experienced teachers” are "not very enthusiastic, and react dubiously to new ideas." On one hand you say that you seek out long-term teachers for information, but don't go to them when you need an emotional lift. What I am hearing is you use them when you can, but like the younger new teachers for an emotional lift. Maybe this is a problem that affects you and you should not lump all experienced teachers into the same mold. When I first started my teaching career, I went to the experienced teachers for advice and emotional support. Thank God I did or I probably would not be where I am today. Today I work with first year teachers, some are young and right out of college, and some are older, like you and just starting out with a new career. What have found is that it is very unfair to lump them all together. Some of the most energetic and positive teachers I see are the (experienced) teachers. Sure, some are burned out, but then I have seen some first year teachers quit because they “had no idea teaching was so challenging", they "don't have time for a personal life" (their words, not mine). I wish you could reevaluate your attitude and scope, and realize that every situation is different, every person is different, and for what ever reason the "experienced teachers” (at your school) are not very enthusiastic, and react dubiously to new ideas, consider that this is not true of all experienced teachers and all schools. I work with 20 schools (elementary through high) and I have seen some of everything, but not every school, and every teacher are the same.
I was just in a workshop dealing with classroom management (and yes is it much more difficult today than it was 10-20 years ago) with experienced and new teachers, it was great seeing them share ideas and solution. They worked together, that's the only way things will get better,
Don't be so judgmental, think of reasons why this is happening at your school. Maybe it would be a nice idea to try to find some solutions to the problems, instead of putting down the experienced teachers. Help them keep it fresh, think of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Good luck!


I was very sad to read your comments concerning experienced teachers. I do not think it is fair of you to say that “older, experienced teachers” are "not very enthusiastic, and react dubiously to new ideas." On one hand you say that you seek out long-term teachers for information, but don't go to them when you need an emotional lift. What I am hearing is you use them when you can, but like the younger new teachers for an emotional lift. Maybe this is a problem that affects you and you should not lump all experienced teachers into the same mold. When I first started my teaching career, I went to the experienced teachers for advice and emotional support. Thank God I did or I probably would not be where I am today. Today I work with first year teachers, some are young and right out of college, and some are older, like you and just starting out with a new career. What have found is that it is very unfair to lump them all together. Some of the most energetic and positive teachers I see are the (experienced) teachers. Sure, some are burned out, but then I have seen some first year teachers quit because they “had no idea teaching was so challenging", they "don't have time for a personal life" (their words, not mine). I wish you could reevaluate your attitude and scope, and realize that every situation is different, every person is different, and for what ever reason the "experienced teachers” (at your school) are not very enthusiastic, and react dubiously to new ideas, consider that this is not true of all experienced teachers and all schools. I work with 20 schools (elementary through high) and I have seen some of everything, but not every school, and every teacher are the same.
I was just in a workshop dealing with classroom management (and yes is it much more difficult today than it was 10-20 years ago) with experienced and new teachers, it was great seeing them share ideas and solution. They worked together, that's the only way things will get better,
Don't be so judgmental, think of reasons why this is happening at your school. Maybe it would be a nice idea to try to find some solutions to the problems, instead of putting down the experienced teachers. Help them keep it fresh, think of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Good luck!

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