Tonight my daughter had her student-led conference at school. After our obligatory stop at the book fair, we headed home. A very young gentleman made a comment to my daughter and her friend as they were walking down the hallway. I asked my daughter who that was, and she let me know it was her Social Studies teacher.
I said “What? He looks 12!” To which my ever so subtle daughter says in a not-so subtle way…”He’s not twelve…My mom thinks he’s twelve….Mr….” To which I got her attention quickly before she said any louder to this teacher that I called him a 12 year old.
As I am now in the middle of my career, I look at this young teacher and wonder…Is this what parents thought of me when I first started? Did they judge me more on my age than on my teaching abilities? When I first began teaching in 1995, I felt confident in my teaching. Having graduated from my college with the Departmental Award in Education and other “Super Teacher” type of awards, nothing could stop me. I was idealistic and naive, but I didn’t see that at all. My confidence blinded me from things that might second guess my teaching.
But here is what I quickly found out. No matter how new you are to the profession, you need to be a constant learner. Just as we require our students to learn and grow each year, we need to do the same. We need to stay current with best practices, meet our students where they are at, and know that there is always something more to learn. As an instructional coach, I am always inspired by the teachers who have been in the profession for 25+ years and take advantage of every learning opportunity that comes their way.
While it was an honor to receive my undergraduate awards, I think they are a bit deceiving. I was never ‘the best’ at what I did. I am not the ‘best’ now. And when the time comes where I feel like there is no more to learn, and there is nothing I can do to be better, then it is my time to find a new profession. So until then, perhaps I need to remind myself to strive to be ‘new’ – and to stay “12”.