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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Novice to expert teachers

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Hello everyone, My name is Marc and I am a second year Math teacher. I teach Math 8, Integrated Algebra, and Geometry. I want to be the best teacher possible for my students which is why I was wondering what some of you think about the skills and knowledge needed to become an expert teacher. I believe some of the skills needed for teachers to move from novice to expert are classroom routines, the ability to know their students, monitor their progress, understand how students learn, and effectively reflect on their own teaching.

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Makana Whitford's picture

Thank you for all your comments. I am coming to the end of my first semester of teaching and I know that this is just the beginning. The road ahead will be a long one but it is up to me to make it a fun and memorable one. I have learned that having a positive attitude when teaching will motivate me to surpass the early years. I know that there is so much more to learn. You all have made good points that passion, content knowledge, classroom management, routines, etc are all helpful and vital from transforming from a novice to an expert teacher. I also agree that to reach expert status means to be perfect at what we do. I think that as long as students are learning and we are flexible in our teaching, we will be able to help students succeed. There is always more to learn in education. Experience is the best classroom.

Rosetta Pewitte's picture

I think that the only way a teacher can get better, is to keep teaching and learning. I have experienced many aspects of education. Many of which gave me more insight into what my ultimate goal is as an educator. The more I teach, the more I reflect on what I am doing and how to do it better.

Lynne Wright's picture

As teachers we are instructional leaders and must possess a certain level of expertise. With the constant evolution in both policy and practice, we must keep pace to provide our students with the best education experience possible.

Jason Novak's picture

[quote]Speaking of novice teachers, do you think a person teaching for one year in elementary and then becoming a director of the STAR center, and come back to teach two more years should have the opportunity to become a principal? Research I have read said that you need at least five to eight years of teaching experience to become an expert.[/quote]

Jason Novak's picture

A pricipal should spend at least 8 years in the classroom, they should teach different grade levels, and be exposed to special education. Many times AP's/ Principals get removed from what education is all about and forget the day to day challenges that teachers face. Its not all about data, test scores and the latest teaching strategies. Education is about making connections with the children, starting a spark for learning and developing individuals to be productive in the world. I dont know what a Star Center is, but to answer your question....NO!

Kate Ehrenburg's picture

I really do not believe in "expert" teacher. Teachers of all ages, learn different teachniques often. During Professional development and inservice days or even from new teachers who have fresh ideas and a new perspective. I have only been teaching for two years and of course I learn so much from the more experienced teachers, but they learn from me too! I think we all can learn from one another if we take the time to do so.

Barbara Toborg's picture

I agree with you Kate. The more I thought about it, I do learn a lot from the "veteran" teahers I work with, but like you said, they learn a lot from me too being a second year teacher. They may bring the years of experience, but I bring the new generation perspective. They self-efficacy just may be a little higher than mine in the profession, but I too will have that same feeling after many years under my belt. You make a very valid point!

Tamar Blake's picture
Tamar Blake
Early Childhood teacher ages 5-6 years from Montego Bay, Jamaica

You might only be in first year, however, after reading your conception of what it takes to move from novice to expert. I believe that you are well on your way. I doubt that I was as insightful when I was in first year. I was more like wondering Why am I in this profession. However, as I trialed and errored with the concepts taught to me and the reality, each success was a motivation for me to stay!

Tamar Blake's picture
Tamar Blake
Early Childhood teacher ages 5-6 years from Montego Bay, Jamaica

I really do not agree with you Kate. There is something, call it our drive, dedication or natural aptitude that determines whether we attain the level of an expert or remain a novice. when I was at Teacher's College, there were students that could not make the grades when it came to test taking and passing examinations. However if you placed them in front of the classroom to demonstrate a lesson,you could see that they were in their element. These persons were not allaround expert but they had the natural ability to become experts. Then there were other students like myself that had to flounder, fall down, get scraped and bruised before I was able to attain the level of competency that I now have. Yes the workshops and seminars helped, however, their are those who are never able to use or transfer what ever they learn and employ it in the classroom.
I believe that the idea of the continuum is to show that there are different levels of attainment and development and it helps educators in the profession to be cognizant that we have a criteria to meet. This knowledge motivates us to always excell, and self-analysis is the key to knowing whether or not we are achieving this. Being an expert of a novice does not mean that you do not have anything to bring to the profession it simply means that there needs to be development and improvement, that you need to move from stage to stage. Remember teaching is not stagnant and if I am in the profession for years and unaware of the current changes or trends in the profession and teach using outdated strategies and content then I am not an expert and I think novice would also be too good a word to describe me too. Remember that a novice is someone who is new to a field or activity, not someone without ideas or professional "know-how".

Molly Whitmer's picture

I agree with you Barbara and Kate. Does anyone ever really feel like an expert in this profession with the ever changing curriculum, student needs, and changing strategies? I only taight four years and I started to feel more comfortable with certain aspects of teaching, but I still worked to improve on those areas. I taught with a woman who had been teaching thirty-five years and said she rarely did the exact same lesson year-to-year because the students responded in different ways or she tried to improve upon a lesson each year. It just showed me that even after 35 years, good teachers are still trying to better themselves.

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