Las Vegas Sun

October 31, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Experience is a good teacher

Many people are complaining about the possible layoffs of Clark County School District teachers and saying that the new best and brightest will be gone while the older teachers will stay because of seniority.

I look at other professions such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc., and we all want the older, more experienced professionals. As professionals gain experience, they are perceived as being better because of that experience.

However, when the professional is a teacher, the opposite is believed: The younger the teachers, the better they are. The years of classroom experience are meaningless for the older teacher. Why does the experience of a teacher automatically mean they are not as effective as a younger teacher?

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  1. That is right, Future. Last year, in my school alone, five promising teachers left because they felt uncertain about their future at CCSD and in Nevada. They could have been great teachers with proper training and exposure. I wonder how many of those left other schools in the district.

    I do not argue that there are young teachers with promise, i.e. they have the 'heart' to become really good teachers. Being a great teacher takes a 'heart' and a few years. They don't teach us in college how to handle homelessness, neglect, abuse, apathy, and indifference. They don't teach us about handling familial dysfunction, insanity in administration and leadership, and how to deflect them. They don't teach us that learning is not the ONLY focus, but politics as well, and a teacher must know how to navigate all these to become a great teacher.

    And, that takes a few years to realize, after you feel comfortable about teaching, the students, the parents, the administrators, and the curriculum.

    As mentor-facilitator, that is what we old teachers do. Yes. There are many new teachers with promise, but they 'ain't seen nothin' yet.

    For the sake of argument, yes there are 'tired' 'old,' 'bad' teachers and there are 'irresponsible,' 'i'm-in-it for the two-month vacation,' and 'it's-an-easy-job' new teachers. These are products of our culture and society. You find those types in any profession, but to lump people together, as people who hate teachers do, is rather ignorant and prejudicial.

  2. We all need vocabulary lessons. Focus is the SINGLE or primary issue. By definition, "focus" does not involve multiple issues. Further, I am unaware of any "hatred" towards teachers. It's not all black and white. Teachers are usually talented individuals trying to make a contribution while being handsomely rewarded with a clear career path and few issues that other careers involve (competing for promotions rather than pay for seniority, limited opportunity, to name a couple.) We cannot afford to support every individual who had a passing thought to jump into the career benefits of being a "teacher." Those people SHOULD BE washed out as soon as possible. If a few are not washed out, they could become complacent, rather useless, highest paid.... It is not a crime to try to be a teacher and fail. But if it's not you, if you are not a good to gifted teacher, get out of here. Our economy should be able to support FORMER teachers who move into other career fields. I suppose there may be envy (not hatred) of teachers solely for their visibility but there can't be many people dwelling upon envy. Unfortunately, we live in a new world, a new reality, a new economy that is not going to turn around into the way it was. We must re-assess the concept of 1 teacher for 15 students and head back to the tradition of 1 teacher for 35 students--when classroom results meant kids could read and write and even graduate.

  3. The desperate only need apply;whether it's health care, construction or education. The business predators or "job creators" as they like to be called want clueless hostages not competent employees. They and their rich kids can retreat to their gated communities, schools and hospitals.

  4. Chuck says: "Sorry Nancy, in the private sector, the I'm in it for the vacation and its an easy job doesn't wash. You will be let go with that attitude. And especially after years on the job private sector employees know the difference. This train of thought comes only from people protected by unions."

    Let me see if I understood you right Chuck: In the private sector, those employees with the attitude in question would be 'let go.' I'll say, precisely!

    So, let me paint a picture of a scenario: The people who have no 'talent' have other talents, and that is, 'brownnosing.' Administrators fall for this all the time. If the administrator is good and does the job well, he or she can 'help' these ineffective teachers by regularly observing how they teach and providing the necessary intervention.

    If after a certain prescribed period, the teacher does not meet the criteria, then by all means, start proceedings to fire that teacher. If the administrator did his job well, there should be enough documentations to prove the case. Sadly, this does NOT HAPPEN as often as it should, not because of the UNION, but because administrators are too busy in other areas, among other things. Without iron-clad documentations, it is difficult to win a termination case.

    The union simply 'represents' a teacher, just as a lawyer represents a defendant. It is called 'due process' and it is the law - innocent until proven guilty. (Why many assail this right of a teacher is beyond me. Wouldn't you want to have that right, if you were a teacher?)

    The district legal department decides what goes to trial and what doesn't. Believe me, the legal department knows what it is doing and knows when the district has a good chance of winning and not winning.

    'This train of thought comes only from people protected by unions.' That train of thought is, sadly, a common 'trait' of human beings in all walks of life.

    Sorry to disappoint you, Chuck. There are far too many who do not belong to the Union than those who do, but they too are entitled to the same rights of due process as you and I. "Es la ley!"

  5. As the author of this letter, Richard Tellier, has suggested, who would you entrust your most precious possession to: an experienced or inexperience professional/teacher?

    Believe me, experience is a layer of protection for children, parents, and at times, the newer staff. When the chips are down, when a crisis suddenly appears, those who are unsure seek the experienced professional/teacher for guidance and service. One who is experienced is less likely to make mistakes. They are aware of more options or solutions to a given problem, situation, or emergency. They serve as the calm where chaos presents, and those who are troubled find relief and solace. Parents are assured that experienced professionals will do everything possible to assure a positive outcome. That is how dedicated professionals are wired. They share their experience in their duty, feeling a sense of great responsibility to the People that they serve. There is honor in a job well done.

    We all have been trained or schooled. But wouldn't you say that it is the "experience" where you learned what you KNOW?
    Teachers just pass it on....

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  6. Tanker: small class sizes should be "easier" to teach with better results but that hasn't been the case, based on results. Even so, we just can't afford to keep dumping money down a broken K-12. And we can't afford to educate our kids when we "have to" educate illegals, roughly 30% of the kids in K-12. And now we get to pay for Obamacare, maybe, and it'll cost upwards of $150 million. So forget about business as usual. K-12 HAS TO downsize the cost.

  7. Tanker: We cannot afford small classes. We must return to methods that work. Teach our kids to read and write.