Seniority Matters

Seniority in teaching matters because there is much documented research showing that teachers must practice up to eight years before they develop efficacy in their practice. In the British VITAE study of 300 teachers in 100 schools, authors Day, Sammons, Stobart, Kingston, and Gu (2007) showed that teachers’ levels of confidence and self-efficacy continue to grow until around the 7 to 8 year mark. After 8 years, teachers reached a significant turning point in their professional development (Day et al., 2007).

The 7th year of teaching is significant as it marks about 10,000 hours of teaching practice. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, states that in order to master any skill it takes “to a large extent, a matter of practicing … for a total of around 10,000 hours” (Gladwell, 2008). This make sense because teaching is a complex and challenging profession and as a result it takes over 7 years to develop high levels of professional efficacy. Further to this, as teachers’ professional knowledge grows, so does their professional judgement.

In the early years of teaching, there is a great deal of trial and error in developing practices that work with students. I content that this process, while occurring less often, is an ongoing part of teachers’ practices as teachers must meet the needs of many students. This results in developing a myriad of strategies implemented in tandem with many students’ needs.

I personally know that if I need collegial advice, I approach the most senior teachers in my school, as they have the depth of experience and knowledge to guide me. Further, teachers with extensive experience know that the work of teaching is complex, and it is naïve to believe that simple solutions will address complex challenges with students’ learning.

To imply that older teachers should not be teaching because of declining efficacy is to imply that other professionals such as older doctors, lawyers, and politicians should do the same.

I dedicate this blog to courageous teachers who strive to work with their colleagues and do the best for their students day after day.

I believe that when working collaboratively, teachers are better together.

Collaboratively Yours,

Deb Weston, PhD

References

Day, C., Sammons, P., Stobart, G., Kingston, A., & Gu, Q. (2007). Teachers matter: Connecting lives, work and effectiveness. Maidenhead, UK: Open University

Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success. Hachette UK.

 

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Updated: February 16, 2020 — 11:37 am

The Author

Deb Weston

I love teaching and have been practicing for over 19 years in Ontario. I have taught grades 2 through to grade 8, including split and contained Spec Ed classes. I am an advocate/ally for issues dealing with Workplace Health & Safety, Special Education, Mental Wellness, LGBTQT, and Aboriginal topics. I have qualifications in Special Education, Reading, Technology, Mathematics, and Integrated Curriculum. I hold a PhD in Education Policy & Leadership and Quantitative Analysis. I believe that when working collaboratively, teachers are better together. My opinions are my own, usually supported by peer-reviewed literature and law. Follow me on Twitter @dr_weston_PhD

4 Comments

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  1. Jeff says:

    I’m a member of the ETFO and I have been certified to teach since 2002 and have been teaching full time since then a year in Australia 2 years in Ontario public boards (simcoe) then 5 years in public schools in London England, then 10 years in Two Different GTA private schools…. I joined the TDSB last in Nov 2018. Regulation 274 is the single greatest barrier to being able to secure a full time teaching position. People claim it’s fair…. I feel it is not fair at all 18 years of teaching experience in a full time position and a 20 something just graduated teachers college will get a contract before me because she was hired in the spring after grad and I was hired in the fall….. please explain how that is fair?

    Oh and btw my salary as a OT is below the poverty line…. FYI

    1. Deb Weston says:

      Jeff,
      We still need more work in getting teachers with your experience into our schools. Teaching is my third career and I understand your frustration. I am sure with your commitment and passion your into our schools.

      Good luck!

      Keep me posted.

      Deb Weston

  2. Leslie Skelding says:

    I agree! It was an eye-opener for me as things started to gel after 7-8 years. One keeps making steps to improve but those early years, plus courses to fulfill an A4 category, were challenging. It’s also so much easier talking to parents about their kids’ progress – your experience guides you.

    1. Deb Weston says:

      Thanks for your comments!

      Deb Weston

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