George Lucas Educational Foundation

Novice to Expert

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Much has been said and written about teachers moving from being a novice teacher to an expert teacher. I understand the concept of "expert" teacher, but can one really ever be an expert in a field such as teaching. We may very well improve our effectiveness, but can we safely ever call ourselves an expert?

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Lori Maria Son's picture

From experience, I agree with Lynet h. when she says that content knowledge is not enough to be an "expert" in teaching. I am a native French speaker who teaches French. I hear all the time: "oh you know all the stuff! It's easy for you! You must be the best!" This presumption puts a lot of pressure on me because I know that I struggle with the pedagogical side of teaching and that the language does not help. You could be speaking a language and standing in front of a classroom, if you do not have any teaching training, you will not know where to start. It is necessary for us to understand how children develop and learn, which even differs from a discipline to another. We need to understand how they feel and who they are in order to reach them, and help them. The content knowledge will not be helpful if not combined with methodological practices and some psychological understanding.

Cindy Elliott's picture

I do not think a teacher will ever become an expert. A teacher travels along the continuum to becoming an expert; however, in the ever-changing field of education we are always learning best practices. As long as a teacher continues to challenge themselves professionally to do what is best for children despite the challenges of society, mandates, etc.; he/she will be successful. Truthfully, when dealing with human beings we never have all the answers. We do not need a label to be good teachers; we need hard work, good communication skills, and a whole lot of love.

Joanna's picture
3rd Grade Teacher, Mascoutah Elementary, Mascoutah, IL

I think that it is hard to ever become an expert at a field that is always changing. An "expert teacher," if they truly are one would not believe that they are because they would always be looking for better and new ways to teach their students. I think the most important aspect of becoming an expert teacher would be your ability to learn from your mistakes and even make your strengths stronger through constant self evaluation. I think that a teacher who believes themselves to be an expert will never become one. They may no longer be a novice because of years of experience, however, when a teacher becomes ingrained in doing things the way they have always done them they will never be able to teach their students to the best of their ability. How could they when there are always new techniques and ideas being developed and discovered?

tricia's picture
Middle School science teacher from Central Illinois

With technology changing so quickly I don't know how anyone could consider themselves experts. Also in the world of discovery (science) there are so many new ideas/materials we didn't know about just a few years ago. I firmly believe times change, but kids do not. I find that a great blessing!

Josh's picture
5th grade elementary teacher from Mascoutah, Illinois

I am not sure if it is possible to be an expert in an ever changing and broad field such as teaching, but if there is, I think an "expert" teacher is someone who understands how their student's learn and in what ways the learn best. They know their students and are able to reach them on multiple levels. They of course know the content of what they are teaching, but the know how to interact with their students inorder for their students to do their best learning. An expert teacher is one that can adapt their teaching style and creating new and exciting ways to present the material. They not only push their students, but they push themselves to the next level to learn the new cutting edge teaching methods and how to use the newest technology that is out there.

Beth's picture

I don't believe we can truly ever become a complete expert because with education changing so much and so quickly at that. If you think you have become an expert and think you know all there is you need to know then you should leave the teaching profession

Joanna's picture
3rd Grade Teacher, Mascoutah Elementary, Mascoutah, IL

Josh, I absolutely agree with your comment about expert teachers. A great teacher is able to hit their students at their individual level and learning style.

Mary Ann's picture
Mary Ann
Pre-K Teacher from Bradley, Illinois

No, I don't believe we can ever truly call ourselves "experts". I have been teaching for 17 years in early childhood. I don't feel that even after teaching for this period of time, that I am an expert. I feel that when we do call ourselves experts, we are saying I know all I need to know, so I am done attending conferenes, trying new strategies, etc. I am not going to do that. In February I started my masters, and I am so glad that I did. In the short time that I have been in it, I have already made some changes, nothing huge, but changes nevertheless. And I am proud of myself for taking on this new role as a student. During the day, I am the teacher, and at night I am again the student.

kristy's picture
high school leadership teacher

I don't think that spending time in a profession constitutes you as an expert. While their is something to say about veteran teachers knowing how to manage a classroom, I do think that our profession is constantly changing and no one can be an expert at everything. You may be an expert at your content, but are you using the newest technology or differentiated instruction in your classroom? The education world is always changing. If you stop for a minute to call yourself and expert, you will quickly fall behind the teachers who are constantly learning new teaching strategies.

Dana's picture
High School Special Education teacher from Bourbonnais, Illinois

With education being an ever-changing career, I find it difficult to become an expert teacher. I feel there are always ways to improve in teaching and a person in education will continually change, whether it be their ideas or curriculum. I believe a novice teacher can become more educated in their field of expertise, but to become an expert means that there is nothing else to learn. With education, there will always be something else to learn.

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