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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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Sherry_K's picture

I agree with you and many of the others. I do not believe the expert level is ever reached. With the rate of change in the education landscape, reaching expert would be difficult. Education is changing as fast as our computers and phones. Once you have bought one of these it is already obsolete. It is the same with education, we should always strive to stay on the leading edge of data and research.

Lavern's picture

Jamie I do agree that when one reaches the expert stage there should be nothing left to learn. I have asked this question before and I will aske again, are there really any expert teachers out there? I ask the question because we are living in an ever changing world. As the world changes we change too to meet the needs of our children. Therefore I agree with the concept of experience as experience teaches wisdom and wisdom allows us to be better teachers.

Lavern's picture

Recently, my professor asked me a question. She asked do if I believed that a new teacher can come in and immediately become an expert by virtue of the knowledge she possesses?

My answer was that novice teachers may posees a wealth of knowledge but they do need the experience tied with the knowlegde to become 'experts' at their craft. I am a frim believer that experience teaches wisdom and as such novice teachers need to practice using up all the information they have to see which situations they best suit.

What do you think? Can novice teachers come into the profession immediately and be 'experts'?

Freddys Hernandez's picture
Freddys Hernandez
Bilingual Math Teacher from Elizabeth, New Jersey.

No one is a complete expert because teachers are lifelong learners. The difference is in 'how long you have been teaching'.

Kottler, Zehm, and Kottler (2005) stated: "In the final analysis, the focus on power issues in our profession comes down to one question: Can I make a genuine difference in the lives of my students?" (Kottler, 2005, p108).

After 29 years teaching mathematics, I am sure every teacher wants to make a difference. In addition, the need for highly-qualified teachers is greater than ever, and as a young teacher, you'll play a critical role in teaching middle school or high school.

Every novice you'll be able to move seamlessly into this high-demand teaching discipline and will become an expert. Learning to teach successfully requires years of trial and error during which insights and practices are developed that allow the teacher to understand the world of the classroom.

Reference.
Kottler, J. A., Zehm, S. J., & Kottler, E. (2005) On Being a Teacher: The Human Dimension. Corwin Press, Ca.

Freddys Hernandez's picture
Freddys Hernandez
Bilingual Math Teacher from Elizabeth, New Jersey.

No one is a complete expert because teachers are lifelong learners. The difference is in 'how long you have been teaching'.

Kottler, Zehm, and Kottler (2005) stated: "In the final analysis, the focus on power issues in our profession comes down to one question: Can I make a genuine difference in the lives of my students?" (Kottler, 2005, p108).

After 29 years teaching mathematics, I am sure every teacher wants to make a difference. In addition, the need for highly-qualified teachers is greater than ever, and as a young teacher, you'll play a critical role in teaching middle school or high school.

Every novice you'll be able to move seamlessly into this high-demand teaching discipline and will become an expert. Learning to teach successfully requires years of trial and error during which insights and practices are developed that allow the teacher to understand the world of the classroom.

Reference.
Kottler, J. A., Zehm, S. J., & Kottler, E. (2005) On Being a Teacher: The Human Dimension. Corwin Press, Ca.

Jeff Myers's picture

I have enjoyed reading the posts thus far, and I feel there are some great insights into what makes a teacher an "expert" or "experienced." However, I feel that with almost all discussions regarding education, it is hard to agree on any one definition or method for defining excellence. So, I find myself asking, "How important is it to define a teacher as an expert or truly experienced?" Every conversation we have about education and every person we look to for expertise must provide insight that can shape our thinking and be taken back to our schools and classrooms in order to be useful. Therefore, rather than focus too intently on defining what makes a person an expert, it is more important to focus on what each of us is actually doing in our own corner of the world to enhance productivity and positive change in our colleagues and students. Am I a teacher that another colleague could come to for help or perspective on an issue that would help them better serve their students? Am I making positive changes in my students and colleagues and still balancing my personal life? Am I always seeking to get better at what I do? These are just some of the questions that I find important for promoting real change in an educational culture with so many variables and definitions of expertise depending on the needs in a specific city, school, or classroom. I think most of us agree that calling ourselves "experts" is a bit lofty and complicated, but I hope that we can all perform in such a way that at times, a student or colleague feels like they are in the presence of an expert based on the help we provide.

Betsy Payne's picture

I don't believe I will ever think that I am an "expert" teacher. I do feel that I am experienced, but not expert. With each and every teaching year comes new problems, new challenges, and new situations. There is always something new to learn and that is why I wouldn't call myself an expert teacher.

JW's picture

Do we dare ever to declare ourselves an expert teacher?

To me an expert teacher is one who has a mastery of their content area, are effective communicators in the classroom, are willing to collaborate with their colleagues, use best practices in their instruction, and above all do not consider themselves an expert who no longer needs to grow professionally.

As we strive to be the best that we can be, we can never be content with where we are.

JW

Amanda Dinger's picture

I like the idea from another blog suggesting we can be an expert at our profession without being perfect.

Katie Speed's picture
Katie Speed
Elementary Teacher, Moreno Valley,Ca

I too believe that I may never be able to call myself an expert teacher. I feel that the process of becoming an expert is never done. All educators must strive to constantly learn and become an expert. Whether it is being an expert in subject knowledge or the art of teaching. Reading and analyzing the latest journals or books about education is one way to begin this process. Educators that go beyond thier daily classroom duties are on their way to becoming experts. Being involved in their school community, after school activities, or involvement in educational research. I also agree that it is a balance between experience and knowledge. I liked the distinction between expert and experienced as mentioned earlier in this blog. It is important to make a distinction between these two and always strive to achieve both.

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