Over the past few weeks, with retirements happening at my school, I was reminded of the great knowledge loss that happens when good (excellent) people retire or move to a different school. The experience, knowledge and situational understanding that these people acquire over time does not seem to be passed to the next generation of educators as easily as it might. I have also been interested, lately, in student-teacher development and mentoring of new teachers. This line of thinking was spurred by the BCEDplan’s discussion around teacher development. On top of this, I have been looking into the life cycle of leadership (survival: which I am definitely in, creativity, and legacy) and the development of professional capital.
Although all these might not necessarily connect, they do suggest that without some sort of institutional or cultural shift, we could lose the history and the culture of school organisations (some may applaud this). This loss bight be from new teachers not remaining in the profession (not being mentored in a meaningful way; having to remain on TOC lists; receiving lay off notices every year for five years), people retiring without sharing their immense knowledge and understanding of how systems work.
There should be a way where new teachers are properly mentored (perhaps with smaller class loads, co-teaching, extra preparatory time, but with the same monetary compensation), more experienced teachers are coaches for the less experienced teachers, and those that are close to retirement (I would suggest 5 years to retirement might be a good number to start) could start to remove themselves from the classroom (if they wished) and move towards curriculum-development, support and encouragement of the school culture.
By building in the life-cycle of teaching as the school cultural expectation, with mentoring, coaching and supporting, all students would benefit, as would the school environment and community. With all the discussion around bringing technology into the classroom as a was to introduce 21st Century Educationa and pedagogy to our schools (do get me started on the fact that it is 2012, and 21st century is so last decade), we need to also look at the instutional structures that prevent the type of change we are hoping for and requiring for all students to become educated.