- Instructional coach Peg Grafwallner writes for Edutopia on the different approaches needed in guiding veteran teachers, including valuing their input and treating them with respect.
- Grafwallner offers several tips to use in working with veteran teachers in ways that will allow coaches to both solicit and offer advice without giving the impression that the coach is seeking to uproot hard-won teaching strategies.
- Cultivating relationships with veteran teachers and passing on their wisdom can result in improving student learning throughout the district.
Teaching is a learning process. Though veteran teachers may have lived through countless student encounters and have the scars to show for it, there is always something new to learn in the field of education whether it is a new flipped learning style, the incorporation of new educational technology, or simply a new way of gathering data within the district.
Some veteran teachers are resistant to change. Through the years, they usually have found a teaching style that works well for them and they have carved a path of least resistance. Convincing them to change or adapt these hard-won methods may be difficult. Administrators and instructional coaches need to be mindful of this and allow as little change as possible if their teaching method has proved effective for them. However, the world is changing around them, and teachers do need to be able to adapt to those changes, particularly if they are policy changes within the district.
Fortunately, with the right approach, most veteran teachers will adapt if they are approached in a way that makes sense to them. These teachers are veterans for a reason: They have weathered the storms of many conflicting educational approaches that have been presented to them for so many years that mostly look eerily the same. If they have stuck to teaching through all those years and changes, they must have incredible resilience, a skill that school districts would do well to pass on to beginning teachers along with other sage advice these teachers have to offer. The fact is, veteran teachers are aware of their worth and have had a chance to explore the world around them. Most of them deserve respect and, if that is not available, they know how to find work elsewhere.