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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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Shante's picture

Do you think that years of experience brings you closer to becoming an expert teacher? I know some really great teachers that are only in their first few years of teaching. Some of these beginning teachers are closer to becoming expert teachers than some other teachers that have been teaching many, many years. I do agree with all of you that you must continue to change with each set of new learners that enter into your classroom. Having a strong foundation of the curriculum, learning how to become a reflective person and having a passion for teaching are all ways to become an expert teacher.

MarcD's picture

Janice, I agree with your comment about not wanting to become an expert teacher because you will have nothing to aspire to. I truly do not believe there is such a thing as an expert teacher because none of us are perfect. Things change so much from year to year that we are constantly trying to improve what we are doing. But as long as we are trying to improve each and every year that is all we can do.

Shanna Falgoust's picture
Shanna Falgoust
Campus Instructional Technology Specialist for a Hays CISD middle school

I think most of us see an "expert" as someone who has achieved the highest point of knowledge in a subject with nothing else to learn. To me, an expert is someone who knows their subject matter, is confident in this knowledge, yet knows that information changes and evolves continually. Therefore, they know they must actively seek the new and emerging information continually.

A colleague of mine created a binder of lessons to cover the required content for our technology classes. A scope and sequence or content map is a great source to start from, but I agree with Dave Fry, Ashley Zimmerman and Georgia. Every year you have new learners and you must adapt your classroom management and instructional strategies to create meaningful lessons that connect to the lives of your students. Canned lessons can be a good resource, but lack the personal touch of a human being.

In addition, Sally Towne hit home when she mentioned preparing our students for the 21st century. The best way to connect to our students is by understanding and using the technology they use every day, and integrate it into classroom lessons. We can gain student interest by doing this, in turn, students become engaged and learning will take place.

The truth is, we will never know everything because information, the economy, cultural shifts and learning strategies constantly change.
Therefore, I believe expert teachers are those teachers who know things change and take initiative to get involved in professional communities or find ways to seek out the new and implement it in their classroom. Like Joy Elliot said, we must continually learn and improve. The fact is we won't know everything, but it is what we do about that fact that can make us expert teachers no matter how many years we may have under our belts!

Shanna Falgoust's picture
Shanna Falgoust
Campus Instructional Technology Specialist for a Hays CISD middle school

[quote]I think the fact that you posted this question, and that you want to be the best, is a great indicator that you are headed to expert. I am a student at Walden University, and just wrote a paper about novice to expert. My personal feeling is I hope I never become an expert, because then I will have nothing to aspire to.Janice[/quote]

Janice, from the sound of it, you are either on the road to becoming an expert, or already an expert. Great educators know they will never know everything, and that they must continually learn and be aware of the changes going on around them so they can adapt. An educator who believes they know everything has made the decision to stop growing. In this profession, you cannot stop. There are too many factors that continually and consistently change. A great teacher knows this and works to stay on top of this to better benefit their students. To me, this is what makes a teacher an expert teacher. I believe your passion for growth is the very essense of what an expert teacher possesses. :)

Shanna Falgoust's picture
Shanna Falgoust
Campus Instructional Technology Specialist for a Hays CISD middle school

Expert, as defined by Dictionary.com, is a person
[QUOTE](adjective) possessing special skill or knowledge; trained by practice; skillful or skilled. [/QUOTE]
Trained by practice stands out to me. As educators we must be dedicated to life-long learning. That means we must train ourselves to seek out other professionals to collaborate with, periodicals to refer to, online resources, etc. that keeps us up-to-date on content, classroom management, and instructional strategies. We *train* ourselves through professional connections and personal reflection. We put into *practice* what we learn and modify as needed. I believe this is what "expert" means in reference to expert teachers.

Lisa's picture
Lisa
First grade teacher

I am in my fourth year of teaching and although I have gotten better each year I would not consider myself to be even close to an expert teacher. I feel that it should be every teacher's goal to become an expert, however it is likely that none of us will ever truly feel as though we have reached this goal. There is always so much to learn and keep up with. I believe that the best teachers will continue to learn everthing they can and be willing to share their learning with others. I believe the willingness to collaborate with others and to work as a team is the mark of an effective teacher. I feel that this combined with a learning never ends attitude will bring all of us close to the goal of becoming experts.

Lisa's picture
Lisa
First grade teacher

I am in my fourth year of teaching and would by no means consider myself to be close to expert status. I believe that the best teachers will always strive to become experts, however I am not sure that any of us will ever truly feel as though we have reached this goal. I think that in order to grow each year we need to do everything we can to continue learning. There will always be something new that we need to be aware of in order to reach all learners. I feel that if we make every effort to be continuous learners and to share our learning with others we will be effective teachers that make a difference.

Lisa's picture
Lisa
First grade teacher

Sorry I posted twice. This is the first time I have done this and thought that the first one did not post.

Jayme's picture

I am a fourth grade teacher and have been working at my current grade level and building for about 8 years. I am working hard to move from novice to expert on the teaching continuum. I also believe that working collaboratively with a team is a way to be an effective teacher. I see my self growing in the way that I understand my content areas, improve my strategies and develop relationships with my students, but I feel my collaboration level is weak and lacking. The other two fourth grade teachers have changed each year that I have taught at this level. I feel like each year my job is to fill them in on the little things. My district does not give teachers much time to collaborate and share ideas. When we do get "grade level planning time" we are usually given tasks and we end up exhausted with something else on our plates and dissatisfied because we didn't have time to share insights on our daily teaching experiences. Does anyone else have this problem? I would appreciate any ideas or feedback related to increasing my teacher collaboration time and therefore becoming more effective.

Jayme's picture

Marc,
I think a great way to reflect on teaching issues is with other educators who work closely with you. You said you valued reflection. I didn't mean to respond to your questions with my own question, but collaboration, to me, is a great way to reflect. I don't know if you feel the same or similar frustrations in this area?

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