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Thursday, 20 March 2014

Why Experience Counts

In many cultures around the world age and experience are revered and celebrated. In some jobs experience is king but what about teaching? Is experience celebrated? I would argue that sadly the answer to this is 'no'. Not a fact I blame on school leadership, the blame lies with the funding of education which in turn lies securely with a series of Governmental policies that result in squeezed budgets. 

I am an experienced teacher, with lots to offer. But what does that experience actually mean and why should it matter? 

I have been teaching for 16 years and have taught years 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. I have co ordinated, I.C.T, Assessment, Humanities, P.S.H.E and Maths and was leading teacher for Gifted and Talented. 

I have taught at an I.C.T summer camp in one of the Governments 'City Learning Centres' and attended and supervised 10 residential "outward bounds' courses with year 6 pupils in Derbyshire, the Wirral and several different places in Wales. 

I have written, from scratch, three parent workshops covering both I.C.T and maths which were delivered by myself and other staff. I have written approximately 12 policy documents for subjects ranging from Sex and Relationships Education to my most recent, a Calculation Policy  for the new Maths curriculum. 

I have delivered staff training to staff as part of my co ordinator roles, delivered training to teachers at the local Professional Education Centre on 'Community of Enquiry ' a structured communication system which encourages effective group work and have been a mentor to both student teachers and N.Q.T s. 

I was part of the pilot scheme for the Wider Opportunities Music Program, which I went on to co ordinate along with a very experienced Teaching Assistant. It was during this time I learned to read music and play the clarinet. From this I helped create and manage a school band which resulted in a huge uptake of children learning to play a musical instrument. This also led to me performing alongside our school band at New Brighton's Floral Pavilion.  I have produced and directed lots of school plays including my class assembly and a full summer production of Bugsy Malone.

I am a trained Mentor for the Seasons for Growth Program which supports pupils who have experienced significant loss and change in their lives and have experience of teaching pupils with a wide range of special needs from A.S.D, Visual and Hearing impaired pupils, moderate learning difficulties and Dyslexia. I also have experience of teaching pupils with a range of medical conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis and Leukaemia. I have supported and counselled pupils and parents through divorce, death, alcohol and drug misuse.

I have helped to develop a 'creative curriculum' and used Kagan structures regularly in my teaching. I have seen many changes to the curriculum and Ofsted and altered my teaching accordingly. I am constantly developing my own practice and professional development keeping abreast with changes in technology and teaching methods, attending courses and conferences and using social media as a professional development tool.

With all of this experience you May wonder why I didn't go down the management route. There are lots of varied reasons for this but the main reason is my absolute passion for teaching and learning. I have, before teaching, had experience of other industries and offices and went into teaching to teach. 

I am sorry if this blog appears to be nothing more than my professional C.V but the purpose of this was to demonstrate the amount of experience that I have but also that lots of other teachers in my own school and schools all around the country have. I know that this is not true for all experienced teachers though as some teachers become cynical and disengaged but I do feel they are in the minority and perhaps if they were heard and valued more this might well be avoided.

So how is this huge experience resource used? In my experience not very well at all. 'older' more experienced teachers who have not gone along the S.L.T route are at best ignored and at worst treated with disdain and often told they are 'expensive.' This is such a shame, we are in a knowledge based industry, knowledge is power and yet we don't tap into it. Experience in all of its forms should be celebrated and used to its full extent. Some of that experience may come from teaching but a lot also comes from experiences outside of education in previous jobs etc. Put this vast array of knowledge together with the youth and enthusiasm of newer teachers and the sky is the limit! We all have so much to learn from each other and our pupils would benefit from it hugely if we did.


One of the reasons I started blogging was due to the frustrations of being unable to share the knowledge that I have. It has become my way of communicating and sharing the things that I am doing and have done. Hopefully my knowledge and experiences both good and bad will help other teachers, students and educators improve their practice or at the very least ensure they do not feel alone and isolated in their classrooms.

How do you share your knowledge and experience? Do you value the knowledge and experience of those in your own setting?