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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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Lisa's picture
First grade teacher

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.

Jayme's picture

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.

Anne Roche's picture

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.

Anne Roche's picture

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.

Joyce Dirig's picture

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.

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