As I enter my 15th year of education, I have found myself in an unfamiliar role. This role is an unfamiliar one because I can remember not so long ago teaching first grade and being mentored by a veteran teacher. As I prepare to end another school year I have suddenly realized that I am now that veteran teacher who guides and mentors other teachers. The thought of transitioning into this role of a veteran teacher is exciting but has also made me realize the importance of having a veteran teacher at your disposal.
I left Louisiana in December 2014 to move back to Texas. I took over a 1st grade class at an urban elementary school and in the process developed a friendship with 2 amazing 1st grade teachers. My 2 co-workers have very different personalities but they are very quick learners and do not require much support. As I interact with them daily, I constantly reflect on the support that I received as a new teacher and I am amazed at how the support to new teachers (0-3 years of experience) has dwindled down to almost absolutely nothing. When I look at our staff, about 15% of our staff are considered a “veteran” teacher. The demographics of my school reflects the greening of education that is discussed in the article, “The Greening of the American Educator”.
I’m sure that there are several opinions as to why veteran teachers have disappeared from the urban school districts but that’s a topic for another post. I have seen and experienced the effect of not having a veteran teacher to guide and support new and experience teachers and it was not a pleasant experience. In my opinion,veteran teachers provide 3 major supports for an urban school:
1. Grade level leadership so that principals can focus on other school business
2. Veteran teachers are the voice of reason and provide a model for new teachers
3. They are highly respected by parents (especially in elementary school)
I absolutely love working with my 2 co-workers because it is a give and take relationship. I provide them with instructional strategies for their classroom as well as guidance on how to navigate the politics that come along with teaching. In turn they keep me up to date on how “millennials” think and process information. I feel honored to pass on what the veteran teachers taught me as a new teacher because that knowledge has survived every change that has been made in this era of so called “education reform”. If veteran teachers are disappearing from the urban school schools then what will education for the urban student look like in the next 5 or 10 years?
I would love to hear what you think, please leave a comment below!