In my year of service as the 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year I have used the opportunity to break down stereotypes about veteran teachers. We often take a hit in the media for being stale and stubborn. I give a voice to experienced teachers who are innovative and providing highly effective instruction to their students. And since I have worked on a staff which has a very limited turnover in the last decade, I had not recently experienced the passion and zeal of our newest teachers. But this year I will have newer teachers in the classrooms on both sides of me, and I now recognize what they bring to the school, the students, and my career.
New teachers focus on the positive. The new math teacher and social studies teacher on my team keep talking to me about all the things we are doing right at this school. As someone who has been there for 24 years, I sometimes focus on all of the changes we are NOT making. These young educators have reminded me that as a school, we have come a LONG way in our journey to help ALL students succeed. They are right. It is a special place for students!
New teachers ask questions-a lot of questions. And when they do this, they force the more experienced staff to be reflective. Well let’s see, why are we doing it this way? If we can’t answer that question it might be something to revise for the future. Keep those questions coming!
New teachers are ready to listen. They want to hear what veteran teachers have to say about educational issues and classroom practice. We have a lot to offer the new staff members and are happy to share our expertise, our opinions, and our resources.
New teachers remind us that teaching is a valued profession. These newest members of our staff spent the summer organizing a resume, filling out applications, and completing interviews. Their goal was to be a teacher at our school! It is an exciting and fulfilling profession and their efforts call to mind our own initial journey into the field.
New teachers bring expertise. Remember, these young teachers have been exposed to the most recent research on teaching and learning during their preparation program. They also grew up with technology integrated into all phases of their life. They know apps and programs many of us haven’t even heard of.
So, I welcome the newest members of the profession to the field of education and to their schools. Thank you for choosing to teach. You will find your career exciting, challenging, exhilarating, and fulfilling. You not only serve the students in front of you, but you bring positive energy to your colleagues and the profession. We are thrilled that you have joined us!