This is the last Sunday I can truthfully tell people I am in my 50s. I am going to use some of it to respond to this colleague’s message on Facebook.
Ryan wrote: Saturday night rant: . . . Does anyone feel the way I do about education websites, apps, platforms? It seems like every week they’re throwing something new at me . . . I just don’t have enough time to work with them all to create cohesive lesson plans that take advantage of their capabilities . . . It’s more peer pressure from younger teachers than admin pressure. . . still have my Amiga 500 in my closet btw…)
Ryan, welcome to being an old teacher! I started my teaching career in my 30s and impressed all of the school with my Wang Word Processor from which I printed papers to be run off on a purple-page-creating mimeograph machine. Yep, I miss representing the newest, freshest and cutting edge of teaching. Sounds like you do, too, and are beginning to transition into being one of the older teachers in a building that serves, and perhaps, prefers youth.
Let me speed up your learning curve for you. When someone has a brand new (fill in the blank) gizmo, listen intently, and give them your version of this dialogue:
“That is so interesting. I can see why you want to try it with your students. I’m going to take out my phone and put in a message for us to discuss this in June. I really want to hear about your experiences and if it got the students speaking, reading, and writing more Spanish or if it was just one of those flash-in-the-pans that was exciting but then hard to manage. I really appreciate your doing the beta on this for me. And if you need help with managing parents or the admin or a difficult class, I’ll be glad to help you.”
As one of the oldest teachers in the building, and a tech mentor, I realized that youth doesn’t value experience because they don’t have it. Since I started honoring my experience with others, I am able to revel in my new status as being wise and not cutting edge young.
Here are some of my lines I drop into conversations:
“I can look at you and type because I learned how to keyboard on a typewriter with covered keys.” (This freaks them out because the students can see on the board that I am writing even as I non-blink speak to someone.)
“In the six thousand students I have interacted with over the years, my experience is . . .”
“This is the 150th time I teach this concept and you need to be patient and work on this concept – it almost never comes quickly to students.”
“It’s been an honor to be part of the learning curve for over 25 new administrators and in my experience. . . ”
I’ve interacted with over 5,000 parents, and in my experience, the hardest thing for parents is . . .”
“I’ve worked with over 500 colleagues over the years and I’ve noticed . . .”
Also, being a reflective teacher, I know when I teach ‘¡hola!’ the students will be surprised that there is an h and an inverted exclamation mark. I tell them in advance not to talk aloud or to themselves and flip through my slides where I have in Spanish “Sí es importante” with arrows to these items. As one student whispered to another last year, “she know our questions before we do!”
Ryan, stay steady with keeping in your bag of teacher tricks what brings results. Let others report their experiments and experiences back to you. Own and share your age and experience. Oh, and if this wasn’t the first weekend of my school year, I definitely wouldn’t be spending my Saturday nights reading teacher rants. Well definitely maybe!