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Revitalizng the Veteran Teacher

Revitalizng the Veteran Teacher



Ideas for bringing fading veteran teachers back into full bloom, and for preventing fading in the first place.

Ideas for bringing fading veteran teachers back into full bloom, and for preventing fading in the first place.



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Revitalizng the Veteran Teacher Revitalizng the Veteran Teacher Presentation Transcript

  • Revitalizing the Veteran Teacher Or, No Teacher Left Behind? Peter Gow NAIS 2009
  • Some observations
    • The dumb-bell demographic: lots of older teachers--50+, lots of younger teachers--<30
    • Senior faculty compensated as valuable asset; too expensive to waste (which puts pressure on the system in hard times)
    • By no means does every veteran teacher need revitalizing!
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Baby Boomers (born 1945-64) Some characteristics
  • Some Boomer attributes
    • Flexible
    • Goal-oriented
    • Focus on individual choices and freedom
    • Adaptive to a diverse workplace
    • Positive attitude
    • (from ValueOptions.com)
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Boomer work styles
    • Confident in their work--but the tasks keep changing
    • Like working in teams--but schools tend to isolate
    • Like collaborative decision-making --short-circuited by more top-down management
    • Conflict averse--SUCH a two-way street!
    • (from ValueOptions.com)
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • The changes we’ve seen
    • Rights and liberation movements  multiculturalism  globalization (post-racial?)
    • computer programming  Web 2.0
    • teacher-centered  student-centered
    • peace/boom  war/bust
    • College pressures greater
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Added pressures
    • Many of us thought we wouldn’t live to see the 21st century--nuclear anxiety (“I’m amazed to have made it this far”)
    • Repudiation of our parents’ ways had a cost (but we’ve made ourselves feel better by shopping)
    • Lately there have been some extra financial anxieties (“What’d I do to deserve this?”)
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • The Failing Teacher Symptomatology & Etiology
  • What does fading look like?
    • Active disaffection, anger
    • Withdrawal into sad corners
    • “ Work to rule”
    • Clinging to/extravagantly defending students (paradox)
    • Dismissive of students (and colleagues)
    • “ The school going to hell”
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Most likely to have succeeded--to a point (but maybe for the wrong reasons)
    • Gadfly--puckish wit, sharp observer, hip cynicism
    • Charismatic--cool once or maybe still, hazy on the boundaries
    • Old School--straight ahead, iron discipline, awesome inflexibility
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • WHY? Let’s face it
    • The 70s, 80s, and early 90s were not exactly the era of great teacher evaluation
    • Bad habits persisted; “value the individual”
    • Professional development seen as forced or irrelevant (and it often was)
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Challenge: Successive waves of change
    • Diversity and multiculturalism
    • Technology 1.0
    • “ Authentic Assessment”
    • “ Learning differences”
    • Globalization
    • Technology 2.0
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Bigger challenge: Autonomy/isolation
    • Meet each “wave of change” on your own
    • Little accountability
    • Little holistic thinking on an institutional level
    • We’re all trying to build and sustain an elephant based on incomplete data from our own narrow viewpoint
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Management ideas
  • Institutional issues
    • Find the balance between
      • Serving the kids and the program of today well AND acknowledging past good service
      • Enacting necessary change AND making the process of change humane
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • What doesn’t help
    • Too many top-down initiatives
    • Individually focused, opt-outable professional development program
    • Not confronting the issue directly; the passive-aggressive work-around
    • Hoping for change/retirement
    • Creating “the Undead”—they’ve been judged, put in a box, and now they are treated with averted eyes
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • What can help
    • Acknowledge
    • Investigate
    • Empathize
    • Adjust
    • Set goals
    • (Set free)
    • Celebrate
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Adjust?
    • Assignments/responsibilities
      • Not fewer, but different
    • Workload, schedule
      • Not less, but different
    • Location
    • Team/cohort
    • Special projects
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • If the cause is lost
    • Be clear about the process
    • Enlist the teacher in planning an exit strategy
    • Find authentic ways to acknowledge past value
    • Support with career or other counseling
    • Resist blame and guilt
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Preventive strategies (financial)
    • Invest in employees’ lives: salary, benefits (tuition remission as “stock options”)
    • Intentional, exciting professional development program
    • Reward great work
    • Offer financial planning support
    • A good and well understood Employee Assistance Plan
    • (A designated H.R. function)
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Preventive strategies (cultural)
    • Transparent and forthright school culture
    • Express interest in employees and their needs--normalize vicissitudes of adult life and support balance
    • Help faculty invest in school--board committee work, leadership roles where earned
    • Consistent evaluation
    • Recognize great work
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Preventive strategies (pedagogical)
    • Use mentoring to promote investment in the school and connect with new colleagues
    • Make collaboration essential--team planning, team teaching, interdisciplinary teaching
    • Encourage and reward innovation
    • Consider exchange/travel programs (e.g., Fulbright, Network of Complementary Schools)
    • Make “legacy” (long-term) teaching portfolios part of professional development
    • (from Peter Seldin, Pace University)
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Some case studies Can this teacher be saved?
  • Color-blind Derek
    • At the school for 22 years, was department chair until replaced by a younger colleague in 2001
    • Fell afoul of P.C. police in late 90s for claim of “color-blindness”
    • Has been slow to adopt new ideas in general
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Jane, unplugged
    • 24 years in the school; 38 years in the classroom
    • Most beloved teacher among alums
    • Proclaims she just doesn’t understand computers
    • One-to-one laptop initiative starts next year
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Sinkin’ Duncan
    • Career-changer at 45, now in year 10 at the school
    • 2 kids, one in college and one just out and living at home
    • Parents live on the other coast, Mom just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09
  • Thanks to
    • Ezra Adams, Tom Daccord, Debi Ellman, Karen Fairbank, Mimi Harrington, Harry Hart, Bob Irving, Bill Ivey, Kathleen Jordan, Curt Lieneck, David Mallery, Luann Lee, Mike Salmon, Elizabeth Sky-McIlvain, Delores Smith, Amy Ward, Anne Macleod Weeks, Glen Westbroek, David Withrow, Teacher X
    • Peter Seldin, “’Tired’ Professors Can Be Rejuvenated,” The Chronicle , 7 March 2008
    2/26/2009 Veteran Teachers/Gow/NAIS 09