Veteran teacher: I’m sick of being called ‘burned out’

(By Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
(By Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

A veteran teacher sent me the following e-mail and agreed to let me publish it without her name. I thought it spoke to what a lot of veteran teachers are feeling, so here it is:

I had a first-year teacher use the phrase “burned out” regarding some of the veteran teachers in my building recently. I take offense at the fact that some members of the current crop of newbies have been brainwashed (fed codswallop) into thinking that they are going to come riding in on a white charger and save the children from the existing teachers who are sorry old burned-out nags.

I have been teaching middle-school math for 20 years. I feel like a veteran of a war. Almost like the veteran sergeant in an old war movie who is still standing after numerous campaigns and is there to greet the new group of raw recruits. I have seen administrators come and go. I have seen curriculum ideas come and go. I have seen all manner of policies come and go. I have taught students who were considered unteachable. That being said, I feel that I am at the top of my game this year.

In an effort to align my instruction with the Common Core State Standards, I am incorporating Singapore Math into my daily lessons so that students who have poor number sense can become better math students. We don’t have a textbook – I am using my years of experience and knowledge to pull material together that I feel will best serve my students. I use daily assessment to guide my teaching. I share data/test results as feedback with my students when they take yet another standardized test. I have control of my classroom and can cover the material I need to cover in the 50 minutes allotted without spending half of the time doing crowd control.

There are lots of new teachers who are great to work with. They have a lot to offer and their input is appreciated and applauded. But there are new teachers coming in who believe that just because I am old enough to be their mother in some cases, I have no value. I am more than ready to listen to their ideas. If they are good ones that I feel will benefit the students – great. But if I don’t greet their idea with pomp and fanfare (because we’ve already tried it with little success), it doesn’t mean I’m burned out.

But I am tired of bright new teachers of whatever age, coming into my building and just from looking at me, assume that it’s time to shove me to the side because they’ve been brainwashed that veteran teachers have no value in this “grand new world of education.”

 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · February 16