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Becoming an Expert Teacher

Shannon

Do teachers over time become 'expert' teachers? According to Garmston's article, "Becoming Expert Teachers", there is a process in professional development as educators. He notes that a school's support can be implemented. "The question is how can schools best support and accelerate this journey for more teachers", (Journal of Staff Development, 1998, p 1). I believe that after 6 years of teaching, I have moved from novice to progressive when it comes to my knowledge in the content of the grade I teach. I have become more confident in the level of expertise in some areas, but by no means will I say that someday as I reflect on my contributions to society, that I was an expert in the field of education. It is a work in progress. I do agree that experienced teachers know more than novices, but I am using the term experienced not 'expert'. As noted in the article, "expert teachers know more than novices." (p 1). I think the term expert should be translated to experienced. It is through experience that we move from novice in any field to knowledge and understanding, and thus applying that in the classroom after many hours of organizing and changing the way we teach more effectively. Teachers have to learn to re-create, re-evaluate themselves, and this is a daily perseverance. Any thoughts?

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First grade teacher

I like the term experienced

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I like the term experienced in place of the term expert. I do not feel as though many of us really feel comfortable calling ourselves experts no matter how long we have been teaching. In my opinion all teachers need to want to become experts, however we may never feel we have reached this goal. I think the best we can do is to strive to become better with each passing year. Continue to learn, to share, and to do what we feel is best for every student. I believe this is the key to becoming a really effective teacher.

It is interesting that we

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It is interesting that we will easily call ourselves experienced, but are wary to say we are experts. Would one have to do all tasks perfectly to be an expert teacher? A fellow student, Cathy, reminded me on another discussion board that being an expert does not mean being perfect. Are we experts by just having several years of experience? I don't know.

I too find it interesting

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I too find it interesting that we are all fearful to proclaim ourselves experts even though we have the academic knowledge and experience that should bolster our confidence. Personally, this is my 5th year teaching and I believe it is my lack of investigating research in special ed along with my lack of contribution to research that keeps me from considering myself an expert. I am hoping that with each year of experience, I will delve deeper into areas of interest in special education as it realtes to my students but for now, I feel like I am still trying to hone my teaching skills and my curriculum. I have 2 sisters who are also in the teaching profession and one is clearly an expert in her field and the other is coming very close to being an expert in her field of teaching. I feel lucky that I have these 2 role models to follow but I know I am no where near their level as yet. However, it is my goal to one day join that elite group.

Jayme, in response to your

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Jayme, in response to your question, I don't feel we are experts by mere experience alone. Although we provide a very important service to our students and the community, I feel it is those teachers who go beyond the classroom and actively participate in and contribute to research in our field that have the right to be called experts. In the 5 years that I have been teaching, I have come across 3 teachers that I would consider experts because of their contribution to developing curriculum to help special needs students.

I agree with Anne. I don't

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I agree with Anne. I don't feel experience alone is enought to make us experts. I know many teachers that have years of experience, but I don't see as experts. I think it is a combination of experience, re-evaluation of self, and life-long learning that make a person an expert. I had a chance last week to attend the National Council of Teachers of English conference in Philadelphia. I sat in sessions with educators that have published books and travel around the country doing workshops. In my mind they are the experts, yet they were learning and contributing right along with the rest of us. They don't see themselves as the experts.

Joyce, I completely agree

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Joyce,

I completely agree when you say that those expert teachers don't see themselves as experts. That has been my experience as well. I agree with you and Anne, but I would hesitate to give these teachers the global title of "expert". I might be more inclined to say that they are experts in a certain area - special education in your example, Anne. I have a very close friend who is the Math leader for our board. I would not hesitate to say that she is an expert Math teacher, but when it comes to Literacy, she admits that she is much weaker. So, to give teachers a title of expert teacher is not something that I necessarily agree with. I believe that there are teachers who are experts in certain areas of education, but to find a teacher who is an expert in all areas would be difficult. Just my thoughts! :)

Felicia, I completely agree

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Felicia, I completely agree with you about being an expert in a certain area. My sister is an expert in British Literature but I am sure she knows very little about special education. I believe the title of expert teacher is reserved for teachers such as Dr. Nieto!

I like the idea of looking at

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I like the idea of looking at people as an expert in a certain area. I had a chance at the conference to talk to Penny Kittle, an expert on writer's workshop. While she knows writing workshop, she admits she often ask for help from other content area teachers to cover a research topic, or authentic story idea. I know personally I often rely on my special ed co-teachers to help me through all of the special education criteria and guidelines.

I agree with Felicia that

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I agree with Felicia that giving someone the title of “expert teacher” may be a bit inaccurate. I also think finding someone who is an expert in his/her content area, who is an expert in classroom management, who does research and shares that research with colleagues, and who makes contributions to the community would be difficult to find. I know of no one who fits all of these criteria on our faculty. I believe many of my colleagues are experts in some of these areas, but not all. I’ve had teachers at the college level who were experts in their content area and were published scholars, but, despite that, I didn’t feel they were expert teachers. The human dimension seemed to be absent. I also remember a guest lecturer who taught a classroom management class at the local university. After teaching over 30 years at the elementary school level and by the way she portrayed herself to her students, future teachers in her education class probably looked at her as an “expert” teacher. Little did the students in her class know, however, that her teaching methodology in her own third grade classroom was ineffective for today’s students. (A colleague of mine taught on her team at her previous school.) I agree that the terms “expert” and “experienced” should not be used interchangeably. As Lisa mentioned, the best we can do is to strive to become better with each passing year. After 13 years of teaching, I do not consider myself an expert teacher. Experienced? Yes. An expert? I’m still learning every day right along with my students.

I agree with a great deal of

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I agree with a great deal of you, that expert teachers are those that go above and beyond the normal everyday tasks of teaching. Writing a book, for example, or researching new cutting edge strategies that help numerous people in the field are examples of ways I believe one can become an expert. Many experienced teachers are out there, but few in my opinion become experts. I believe there needs to be some risk involved. One needs to put their neck on the line for something the believe in and research it and truely influence education to be an expert. This on top of being experienced and knowing how to teach effectively is what I consider being an expert teacher. It is a balance between experience and effort above and beyond the call of duty.

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