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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Becoming an Expert Teacher

Becoming an Expert Teacher

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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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Natalie Steel's picture

Shannon,

I completly agree that experience can add wisdom to the teaching realm. Everything that we work at consistently in life can help usto become more informed, refined, and successful. As we work, we are less likely to make the same mistakes two or thre more times. It is great to see improvement in yourself as experience is added to your life.

I am trying to gather experience not just from my own teaching challenges, but also others. I get to substitute and teach in twenty different schools. I have enjoyed watching other educator's function in their classes. I am anxious to have my own class again someday, but will strive to observe from others the mistakes and successes they are having until that time comes.

Lavesa Devnnai's picture

I agree with Katie Speed on the thought that I can never call myself an expert teacher. At-least not yet. Every time I climb a step on the continuum I am faced with a new situation where I need to go back and reflect. It could be because I am trying a new approach, different methodology, new group of children that have different set of needs every year. Whatever the reason I am or rather many of us are always moving back and forth on this continuum from novice to expert.
Can we be an expert? I think being an expert has a lot to do with reflecting back on experience and using that to solve situations and resolve problems. Most teachers after about 5 years of experience call themselves experienced but are they experts. How much of that experience have they reflected on and resolved current issues? Have they dedicated their lives to the field of education or simply to teaching?

Like all major occupations, the field of education is constantly changing. We constantly need to update ourselves with new information, new technology and research in the field.

Tanesha Finley's picture
Tanesha Finley
7th grade math, Mendenahll, MS

I to one day strive to be an expert teacher, when I say expert, I mean as for as classroom management and analyzing my student's deficits. I know no one can truly be an expert at teaching because times are constantly changing and students are constantly changing. I feel that as for my content knowledge, I am great, and could even take up more classes to be deemed an expert, but one day with time of course, I aim to leave my novice title behind for an expert title.

Kimberly's picture

Becoming an expert teacher depends on the expertise of the teacher and not the total number of years in the teaching field. An expert teacher is someone who does everything that is expected and more. I have observed a teacher that has been teaching for 25 years and is still having majors issues with classroom management and lesson planning. One cannot sit down and teach from a desk, yelling at the students to behave. An expert teacher works on her/his craft to better herself as an educator, learning from different strategies year after year. I recieved a "Teacher of the Year" Award after teaching only 3 years. I am now a 7th year teacher still think of myself as a novice teacher. I am still learning year after year from research and other teachers.

Lauren Goldstein's picture
Lauren Goldstein
1st Grade Teacher from NJ

I agree with you Shannon. An "expert teacher" would infer that there is nothing for this teacher to learn. I had a discussion with a colleague at school about this term. We both agreed that to be an effective teacher, you must always see yourself as a student. Our profession is always growing and changing. In order to be effective, teacher must constantly be changing and updating their repertoire. I would agree with you that "expert" should be changed to "experienced."

Vinnie Barchini's picture

Are we ever truly experts? What is an expert? Who is to say what an expert is or does? Personally, I do not believe that anyone is an "expert," but I do believe that there can be highly experienced educators. I say this because when I think of the term "expert," to me that means that someone knows everything, has seen everything, and has been involved in every situation imaginable, while confronting and resolving it without hesitation or complication. Justifying that is a very difficult thing to do, especially with how students and schools have changed over time. Teachers are constantly forced to adapt, stay abreast with new trends and reinvent themselves so that they can be best suited to meet the constantly changing needs of new students of new eras. So to me, it is difficult to say that anyone is truly an "expert," but I can say that there are veteran educators who are vastly experienced and best suited to handle the ever changing needs in education.

Laura Brown's picture

I agree with what you stated Vinnie. I do not believe anyone is ever an expert in a particular field; however, one can be highly experienced. To qualify someone as an expert, you have to have the answers to all the problems and be mistake free. I know that I am a highly qualified teacher but I am no where close to being an expert in the field of teaching. Experience is not the only requirement one has to have when moving from novice to expert. Teachers have to evaluate their self on a daily basis to see what changes need to be made.

Laura Brown's picture

I agree with what you stated Vinnie. I do not believe anyone is ever an expert in a particular field; however, one can be highly experienced. To qualify someone as an expert, you have to have the answers to all the problems and be mistake free. I know that I am a highly qualified teacher but I am no where close to being an expert in the field of teaching. Experience is not the only requirement one has to have when moving from novice to expert. Teachers have to evaluate their self on a daily basis to see what changes need to be made.

April's picture

I feel it would be difficult to label myself as an expert in teacher development. There are too many situations that arise to change my instruction. I find that when I feel as though I have everything under control, I am faced with new curriculum or new student behaviors or learning styles. I am always learning new ways to change my instruction in order to impact my students. I feel I am at the proficient stage most of the time. I do find myself returning to the novice stage, but my experience helps me to quickly return to the proficient stage.

Sarah F's picture

Are there expert teachers? Absolutely. My mentor from my first year of teaching is what I think could best be described as an expert. She has very high performing students who do not come from the best backgrounds, she is an expert at communicating with students, collagues, parents, administration, etc. She knows her curriculum, knows her students, and basically knows what she's doing! Now, with that being said, I would agree that there is a line between expert and experienced. I know plenty of experienced teachers, but as a teacher - there is so much more to do to improve in your field. As teachers, we are constantly learning and finding news ways to approach our field. I think becomming an expert takes a lot of experience and a lot of reviewing, re-evaluating performance, and a lot of re-vamping - but I think it can absolutely be attained.

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