September will be the beginning of my 24th year in teaching. (Wow! It doesn’t even feel that long.) I remember starting in 1993 looking forward to meeting my new third grade students. (They are 31 to 32-ish now.) I am just as excited and creative now as I was in 1993. Yet, there is this nagging feeling that is still bothering me:
When did becoming a veteran teacher (veteran as in experience) become the same as being an old teacher (old as in age)?
I became a Basic Skills teacher three years ago because I needed a change. Throughout my career, I have taught grades 2 through 5, staying at each grade for about 3 to 6 years. I always believed that I would return to classroom teaching. Actually, I was hoping to go back into the classroom this year. (Unfortunately, that did not occur.) I was even open to moving to another school for the opportunity.
I never thought that my years and level of experience could be an obstacle to going back into the classroom. That is until I heard this one statement…
Principals are not contacting [HR] and saying they want to take [you]. Most principals want to hire their own new (code-word: young) teachers.
You can imagine my face when I heard those words. Somewhere in the distance, I could hear some of my veteran colleagues who have long retired, saying, “I told you it would happen to you eventually.” However, I believe this is a different situation.
Yes, it’s true that principals may prefer to hire new teachers. Teachers that they can mold based on their ideals. That is a fact of life in education. However, I thought that by keeping current and excited about teaching, that it would not happen to me. I definitely did not feel confident after hearing that statement. In fact, as each day passes, I know I have a lot to offer to any principal. So, here are the specifics:
- I am 48 years old with my Masters degree and credits beyond (30+);
- I have been a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) since 2003. (In fact, to date, I am the only NBCT in my district.);
- I have kept current with the latest educational practices, curriculum, and technology and;
- I still get involved with activities at school. So…
When did I become an old teacher at 48? When did my years of experience become a negative quality? Or, am I looking at this too deeply?
In spite of these thoughts, I am looking forward to the new school year. I will be traveling between two different schools for the first time in my career. It will be a challenge in quite a few ways. However with every new challenge I have grown as a teacher and as a person.
If you are having the same concerns as a veteran/seasoned teacher, I would love to hear your thoughts.
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