Coaching and the Next Generation

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Our district considers itself a “destination” district-a magnet for teachers and training and forward thinking.  Looking through that lens, the district prefers to hire experienced teachers when a job or position opens. Although I agree that experience is invaluable, I believe that investing in new teachers is important, too.

 

In my role as Literacy Coaching in an elementary building, I have had the privilege of working with several teachers who have filled open positions.  Given my druthers, I prefer to coach brand new teachers instead of veteran teachers. This might seem odd to you, but I enjoy the energy and enthusiasm that they bring.  These right-out-of-college teachers who are wet behind the ears, so to speak, enhance our school in numerous ways.

 

First, these fresh-from-university teachers usually know and accept that they don’t know everything.  With this in mind, they actively seek help and support and have a desire to improve their practice. They are open to new ideas and to reflecting on their practices.  They don’t seem worried or angry or offended when the coach (me) let’s them know she will be in the room observing the “teaching and the learning.” These educators are glad! These educators fling open the doors!  These educators put out the welcome sign. In contrast to some veteran teachers, seeking answers or help with confusions is normal. Never have I heard one Initial educator say, “I’ve done that. The pendulum is going to swing back to…” or “I’ve done it this way for years so….”    New teachers bring an open mind and a willingness to to learn and grow.

 

In addition to this culture of reflection that new teachers bring, I respect these budding educators.  They come to the classroom with skills and expertise that far outweighs with what I entered the field. The classroom management skills are awesome.  They have a toolbox of ideas to support respectful discipline. They come to the classroom with excellent communication skills. They handle most meetings with parents, teachers, students, and other educators with poise and grace.  They come to the classroom with the “native language” of technology. They eat, drink, and speak it. What I struggled to learn seems natural to them. This expertise opens learning to students in fun and innovative ways. Yes, I respect these young teachers.

 

Finally, the last and most important reason is that working with new teachers is such a pleasure.   Their dreams are still shiny and sparkling. “What do you mean?” you may be wondering. Well, in my opinion, most people who enter the teaching profession are motivated by a genuine and intense desire to help children, to make a difference in their lives, and by working with a caring spirit to ensure it becomes a reality.  I have never met one teacher who said that he or she entered the profession because they wanted the summers off or because the benefits or pay lured them here. No, most enter because of a hope to change lives. Theses new educators still tuck these beliefs near and dear to their hearts. And, as I work alongside these young men and women, I hope, in some small way, to encourage that spark of a dream to burst into a flame that will continue to burn brighter year after year.  
Investing in these teachers, supporting their success, and helping them refine their craft during their first years is exciting and rewarding to me.  Far be it from me to withhold support when discouragements come; when unreasonable parents assail; or when a principal’s expectations are unrealistic, wanting them to be a 30 year veteran in a 22 year old body.  No, these young women and men are the future of education, the future, really, of America. They will inherit the profession. They will be the educators that continue to make a difference in the lives of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren and the next generation of children long after I lock my office door for the last time.  These teachers are the future. We would do well to help them.

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About bjdonaldson

I think of myself as a Renaissance woman with a variety of passions. If you visited me, you might find me hanging out with my husband and children. Our Golden Retriever would be lovingly near. I am a Literacy Coach/Reading Specialist at an elementary school where I provide professional development and coaching to teachers. Formerly, I was a Reading Recovery teacher, an interventionist, and a middle and elementary classroom teacher. Getting up in the morning is not hard; I still love making a difference in the lives of children and teachers.

8 responses »

  1. Your last sentence is the most important. We should help one another, especially new teachers. For the most part I agree w/ your analysis, but as one who has moved cross-country a couple of times, I’m glad a brand new teacher wasn’t hired. I value merit in hiring and have seen a lot of cronyism and nepotism over the years. That said, I’ve also seen experienced teachers come into my building and expect preferential treatment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comments are well taken. I feel I should have given our veteran teachers more credit. I do love them, too, but they are not always as open to new ideas or change. Many, however, are life-long learners and the biggest cheerleaders for change!

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  2. I concur with Melanie! There is something special about having the opportunity to work with a new teacher. To this day, I’m grateful for the mentors I had during my first year of teaching. My literacy coach, in particular, saved my life every time I felt like I was going to drown. She’s the reason I still work in education!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s so true–the hours and hours put in by early teachers are essential, and they have not yet been disillusioned by the tough realities of the field. I would love to reflect on how we give that joy and passion back to teachers who have spent countless years and hours and feel burdened and forgotten! Teachers matter! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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