Hey, New Teacher, Don’t Quit. It Will Get Better

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/11/17/455484639/hey-new-teacher-dont-quit-it-will-get-better

This is an article published recently that’s getting a lot of attention amongst teachers in America,  especially new ones.  As I read it,  I’m struck by a few thoughts.

Firstly,  when you’re setting out to do it well,  this teaching business is part art,  part science,  there’s a lot to it and it really tests the personal resilience of the new teacher.

However,  what’s been disturbing for me over the many years that I’ve been involved in Indian school education is the frequency with which you see none of these anxieties amongst vast numbers of new or recently recruited Indian teachers.  Why?  Do they have some secret ingredient not available to the western teachers?  Have they been so masterfully trained and prepared through their B.Ed that they don’t need to feel this way?  No to both of those.  Instead,  they’ve been sold on a bunch of wrong notions that the classroom is just about delivering portions of stuff and maintaining control (enforced discipline). Easy.  Where’s the sweat?

I recently asked someone who had been teaching for one year if she considered herself a novice or a learner.  Oh no,  she said.  I’m an experienced teacher.  It’s not her fault. But,  to my mind it goes to the root of all that ails school education in India still.  It is not a simple little job that can be learned in 5 minutes.  No inclination to mastery.  Avoidance of acknowledgement of the vast array of skills to be honed over years if one really aspires to be a part of high quality child centric learning.

I don’t blame the teachers.  Most of this is a bi-product of woeful leadership and a lack of meaningful vision.  If all we aspire to do is to mug children endlessly to pass exams,  then we will deny the true extent of the skill set to be acquired and the weight of responsibility that lies upon us.

So,  there should be more anxiety in Indian classrooms,  especially for new teachers as they embrace the enormous weight of the duty they have taken on.  In turn,  our job as leaders is to provide the most passionate and determined with the mentoring, the support and the freedom to fail forward that will lead them to excel.

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