Friday, April 10, 2015

Energizing the Mid-Career Teacher

By Kim Miklusak

We have all perhaps seen a variation of this chart during our teaching career: phases of first-year teachers' attitude toward teaching.  It makes sense, and it makes new (and veteran!) teachers feel less isolated in their attitudes as the year goes on.  There is a natural progression to things, and it is something we can be conscious of and try to address and prevent.  See this image here:
Graphic from http://www.newteachercenter.org/


There has been a lot of talk in the past ten plus years--but again recently--about new teacher retention: its costs, its causes, its remedies.  I think it's vital to have these conversations about new teachers.  However, I think another conversation we need to be having is mid-career teacher retention--or, more specifically, mid-career teacher re-invigoration.

I wonder what the above chart looks like across the span of a career.  I'm sure there are many peaks and valleys for a variety of reasons both internal and external to each individual.  I wonder how we can support mid-career teachers as we do new teachers to help them connect to other educators, to continue to grow as experts in their field, and to help them find new avenues to learn.

One way is for teachers to make those connections on their own whether that be through Twitter, conferences, EdCamps, etc.  I think another way is for teachers to start finding ways to publish their own writing and reflection be that in journals, websites, or their own blog!  Another way is for schools to facilitate this re-invigoration.  This past week our school held Spark Sessions and a Mini-EdCamp at our first In-Service day in addition to the teacher-led sessions held at our Institute Days.  In addition, administrators both in-building and at the district are working with many mid-career and new teachers to branch out into new roles and help guide new and existing initiatives.  I hope that all schools follow this lead and spend their resources in some of these ways as well in order to connect to new and veteran teachers.  While it's true that teachers can hit a groove in mid-career and be left on their own, it's also a time to be sure to find ways to remain energized and constantly reflect and grow!

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