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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Novice to Expert

Novice to Expert

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Much has been said and written about teachers moving from being a novice teacher to an expert teacher. I understand the concept of "expert" teacher, but can one really ever be an expert in a field such as teaching. We may very well improve our effectiveness, but can we safely ever call ourselves an expert?

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Shannon's picture

Expert is an interesting term because if you take it literally, really no one can ever be an expert. Is there really an expert accountant, doctor, teacher, etc. who knows everything in their field? The answer is no. No one is truly an expert at anything because there is always something new to learn. Experts embrace that new learning as a way to further themselves as professionals. However, I do not believe the term expert means you have mastered every element of a task, but instead that you are experienced and educated enough to confidently work at the highest standards and mentor others. So to answer the original question, yes I think it is possible to be a master teacher.

Aleisha Davis's picture

Before I actually became a teacher, I definitely thought that a teacher could be an expert. Even during my first year of teaching I had a mentor that I considered an expert. Now that I am in my fifth year of teaching, I do not feel that I will ever consider myself an expert teacher. Everyday I learn something new and have new experiences. I do not feel that I will ever be a master of all situations that occur in my classroom. I do think that the more experience I have the better I may deal with a new situation. So, I have to agree that I will not consider my self an expert but I will consider myself an experienced or veteran teacher.

Lyndsey's picture

I, along with Aleisha, used to think there was an expert teacher. Now that I have been teaching for a few years, I feel differently. I believe that all professionals, including teachers, should be lifelong learners. There is no expert accountant, surgeon, programmer, etc. It takes reading, discussions with colleagues and fellow professionals and experience. Can one become an experienced or master teacher? Most certainly. But should one stop learning once they've reached that title? Certainly not. Things are constantly changing in the field of education that teachers need to be aware of to meet the needs of all their learners.

Shirley Lounnivongsa's picture

I believe that novice teachers exist because it is evident that beginners have so much to learn. Once you enter a new profession, you will be considered a novice because you are still learning. However, an expert might not be a title for an experienced teacher. It does not matter how long you have taught because there is always room for growth and methods are always changing and evolving. I used to think that expert teachers do exist, but I think I have changed my mind. There are so many areas in education and I think it would be difficult to say that someone would be an "expert" teacher in every single area.

Lynet H's picture

I think that all teachers walking into the classroom for the 1st time represent the classic novice teacher. To become an expert requres many different levels of competancy. It is not enough to have strong content knowlegdge, there is an importance to know how to teach and how the students learn. On terms of being considered an expert, I feel that is somewhat of a glass ceiling. I agree with Shirley, teachers need to constantly be expanding within their profession. I would not necessarily wanted to be considered "expert", but rather a teacher who is always learning.

Rob A.'s picture

I don't think that an "expert" teacher is one that has all the answers, rather one who knows all the correct avenues to find the them. Teachers who feel like they know everything quit learning. An "expert" is one who continues to learn each day and recognizes it is their responsibilty to continue to improve.

DMA's picture

I question the thought of an expert educator. I have pondered this idea for some time now. I originally felt that a teacher can not be an expert. The term "expert" is so final. But after some reflecting and much reading this past week, my opinion has changed. If an educator has developed superior teaching techniques, good sense of self-efficacy, fluency, effectivness, professionalism, knowledge, experience and is willing to commit to life long learning then that is a teacher that would be considered an expert. Being an expert doesn't mean that they will stop growing. Also being an expert means that the educator can take the new testing that the state throws at them, the new philisophies, new techniques that come about and know how to use it to benefit the student. I think originally I was thinking too hard about the term "expert." After letting go of the literal term, I was able to see how a teacher could be an expert.

DMA's picture

Expert...I originally felt that a teacher could never be called an expert educator. I felt the term was so final. Then after reflecting these past few weeks and doing some reading, and letting go of the literal term "expert," I changed my mind. I think a highly qualified, skilled teacher, with a good sense of self-efficacy, professionalism, experience and a wealth of knowledge is close to being an expert teacher. Then once they gain the knowledge on how to use the new techniques, testing, philosophies to benefit the student, then they are an expert teacher.

Meika W.'s picture

As a new teacher it was always a goal of mine to strive to be an expert teacher, however, as some of you mentioned above, the term expert can have different meanings to different people. I would like to believe that being an expert teacher is possible and that the term "expert" doesn't limit our passion for learning and teaching. For example, I believe that an expert teacher doesn't necessarily know all of the answers, but works hard to find those answers. To me an expert teacher, has great connections to the students, staff, and parents, and is always willing to learn more. So in the end I guess it matters how we define expert and what limitations we put on the term.

Vinnie Barchini's picture

I would have to agree with saying that I don't believe we can ever truly be considered "experts." As I read most of your posts I would agree that teachers can become highly experience and develop a mastery and understanding of their certain subject area, but can they ever truly know everything about every situation that can present itself in a learning environment? Every year teachers are forced to adapt and reinvent some of the ways they teach. We are constantly asked to stay abreast with knew information about how our students learn most effectively and what methods work best in our classrooms. We are constantly learning, much like our students, and because of this I cannot agree with the term that we become "experts" persay, but we do have the ability to become vastly experienced and handle situations with less hesitation and complication as time goes on.

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