Feb 20, 2013

Experienced Teachers Are Worthless...

....that's the message received by any teacher with too much experienced.  They are given the typical rhetoric that they are "over qualified" when the reality is that districts do not want to pay the price of a teacher with experience.

I had a professional development meeting today and one of the introductory comments made by the speaker was that she had 15 years of experience when she decided to change jobs.  The meeting was not about this issue, but her follow-up remark brought back a lot of memories and fears.  Her comment was that she knew changing jobs with that much experience means that if she didn't like her new job that she would not be able to return.

Those unfamiliar with the educational machine in the United States may find this surprising, but every teacher I ever met told me that if I wanted to leave IPS that I needed to do it before I had more than 5 years of experience.  That is because 5 years is the unofficial time when you begin to build up more experience than a district is willing to pay.

This is not a mark against school districts.  They are just working within the political-economical restraints put upon them.  Districts only have so much money to spend and if they can higher a 22 year old for <$30,000 or a 15 year veteran for >$40,000 then they don't really have a choice.  For the price of a 15 year veteran teacher, a district could invest in 1.5-2 new teachers.  The experience itself is wanted, but not for the price tag.

It kind of makes me think about horse trading.  Who wants an old horse?  Or to use a more emotionally charged comparison: slave trading.  See, a young slave has more energy and is less likely to speak up/out when told how to do their job.  An older slave won't have as much energy and will come with more demands (ie $$).

Slaves....er...Teachers who have a lot of experience will cost districts more money and are more likely to say it like it is.  The political machine that funds the districts is always finding ways to reduce their funding (all the while increasing expectations).  Teachers are paid to run their script, not for the knowledge and experience they bring to the classroom more than that, the knowledge and experience they bring to other teachers.

(fyi, no one can simply teach...script or no script)

So what makes me the teacher I am today (and will become), in order, and which had the most positive impact on my abilities as a teacher:

  1. Experience
  2. Help/knowledge/wisdom of veteran teachers
  3. Retired teachers (Thanks Roger :) )
  4. Content understanding (given both educationally and through experience)
  5. Fellowship with other teachers
  6. Fellowship with other new teachers
  7. Feedback from students
  8. Advisers/mentors (Thanks Lynn and Herb)
  9. Constructively critical administrators (thanks Bill & Jim)
  10. Educational background 
  11. A decent lunch
  12. Petting my cat when I get home
  13. Coffee
  14. Other teachers
  15. Bad days (you can learn a lot when everything goes wrong) 
  16. A good night's sleep
  17. A drink with fellow teachers
  18. Finding an extra dollar bill in my coat pocket so I can buy a pop for lunch
  19. Sleeping on the couch in the lounge (if you have a couch....or a lounge)
  20. Opening a can of tuna
  21. Controlling/Policy-minded administrators
  22. Watching anti-education documentaries
  23. Listening to political speeches about education 
  24. Paying taxes
  25. Spending my own money on classroom supplies that will be reimbursed
  26. Spending my own money on basic classroom supplies that won't be reimbursed
  27. BS portfolio making
  28. Educational Standards (state, district or "common" core)
  29. District overlords/Political-bureaucratic stooges
  30. Thinking about my retirement plan


  1. Sarah Evans22/2/13 5:34 PM

    BS portfolio making? But that was such great fun.
    I now have 4 years of experience and two jobs I have interviewed for recently were given to kids who just graduated college. But when I try to get a job outside of education, no one will hire me because I only have experience as an educator.

  2. This is a great list! I taught elementary school for 35 years and I'm sure my list would be similar (except for the cat..I'm allergic).

    Just found your blog...and am adding it to my reader now!

  3. Thank you. It means a lot to know people read my blog. Thousands of teachers all thinking the same thing (however, maybe not in the same way) so I figured it was time one of us started saying it.

  4. This scares me more than anything. The idea that I may be trapped in a profession and forced to work in conditions like IPS. On the other hand, when I first decided to leave IPS I did a lot of research and if you word your resume just right you can make yourself appealing to a variety of management positions.


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