Rejecting veteran teachers to keep them from moving up the ladder for pay increases means students miss out on getting to know and learn from elderly people.
Teach for America is popular because they remain at the bottom rung of the funding ladder and leave after a few years. This creates a revolving door of cheap teachers.
If TFA novices become real teachers the school district will likely try to push them out of the classroom later too!
Disrespect of veteran teachers should not be part of a democratic school system that opens its doors to all children.
Yet most teachers know that with every year of experience they’re valued less.
Teachers who work year-to-year bettering their professional capabilities deserve the increases in their salaries and respect of those in their communities, and school administrators.
We might remember an elderly teacher who didn’t teach well, but it’s also easy to recall a young teacher who didn’t do a good job. Like any profession, we find great, good, and mediocre teachers at all age levels.
Here are the benefits of having an older teacher.
- They have stories to tell.
- They know history sometimes firsthand.
- They have improved their teaching through trial and error.
- They are happy when you visit years later.
- They know ways to overcome bad curriculum.
- They are cool and collected.
- They will speak out on behalf of their students.
- They recognize a problem before it gets worse.
- They will listen to a new teacher without judging.
- They can identify a learning disability quickly.
- They know everybody in the school district.
- They are fixtures in the community.
- They can tell when students aren’t telling the truth.
- They recognize good school reform from B.S.
- They see beyond bad behavior.
- They have been fooled and won’t be fooled again.
- They are grateful to be alive and working.
- They don’t take guff from inexperienced administrators.
- They provide support to young teachers.
- They help Teach for America novices.
- They are funny and tell good jokes.
- They are tested (I don’t mean VAM).
- They don’t take themselves too seriously.
- They are like a grandmother or grandfather.
- They encourage parents.
- They are trusted.
- They sometimes taught the child’s parents.
- They bake cookies and cakes, or they know where to buy good ones.
- They talk sports and will go to games and root for their students.
- They attend plays and band concerts.
- They are quirky and students like quirky.
- They provide a sense of consistency.
l had several late 70ish (one even older) teachers in the late ‘50s, ‘60s, and beyond in college. I’m grateful I knew them.
In first grade when I learned to read my young teacher worked with an older teacher who looked like the woman in the picture above. What a team! I can still see them in the classroom planning.
My elderly 5th grade teacher had flaming red hair, and she would always put her lipstick on at her desk after lunch. At first, she scared me.
One day after I had finished reading my geography assignment, she gave me some paper and said, “Nancy, draw what you see.” It was a picture of rice paddies. Why would I draw that? But I did draw and color it and she said something like, “Nice job, Sweetie!” After that, she was my friend. There was something good about overcoming my fear of her.
Not only was she a good social studies teacher, she also stocked her classroom with Classic Illustrated Comics and biographies of famous people. It was there where I met Edmond Dantès in The Count of Monte Crisco, Olympic figure skater Carol Heiss, and many others.
Young teachers are great. They are new and eager to learn. Many of us were young when we started teaching.
But it is a disservice and sad omission to deny children the joy of knowing and learning from older, experienced teachers.
Since there’s a teacher shortage, maybe it’s time to welcome older retired teachers back, under the right conditions, of course.