Revitalizng the Veteran Teacher


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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

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