Teachers, like all professionals, learn as they go through the stages of development during their careers. Michael Huberman discusses the five stages of teacher development in his book "The Lives of Teachers," examining how teachers continually evolve, how they assess their roles in the classroom, their effectiveness as teachers and the steps they take in their career development.
In the first three years of teaching, called the career entry phase, a teacher is transitioning from the role of student to the role of teacher. She is learning skills such as classroom management and dealing with parents, Huberman explains, and trying different methods. By trial and error, she determines which approaches are in harmony with her style as she relates to her students.
The fourth through sixth years of teaching are the stabilization phase, during which time a teacher gains confidence in his abilities. He is comfortable in his role as a teacher and has a sense of independence. However, teachers may also experience some insecurities and frustrations during this phase. For the most part, teachers are at ease and are able to design stimulating lesson plans. In this phase, a teacher will develop his own teaching style.
Between years seven and 25, teachers enter the experimentation and diversification phase, seeking out challenges and applying creativity to their planning. They experiment with different teaching strategies, student groupings and new materials. They work to motivate uninterested students and find ways to increase differentiation in the classroom. Teachers also have a sense of independence at this time and are more open to accepting criticism. However, Huberman notes that a teacher in this phase also may experience a mid-career crisis and question her decision to become a teacher. She may have a desire to try a different profession before it is too late.
Serenity and Conservatism
When a teacher reaches age 44 to 55, she enters a stage of reflection. Her career ambition decreases and she begins a phase of serenity and self-acceptance. During this time, a teacher may find herself distant from her students because of generational differences. This is the precursor to conservatism at age 50 to 60 when the teacher is less tolerant of younger teachers and pupils. During the conservatism phase, the teacher is rigid in her thinking process.
In the final phase of the professional life cycle of teachers, a teacher has more than 30 years of experience. He will gradually withdraw, have few regrets and spend a great deal of time outside of the school. Disengagement begins in the serenity phase. A teacher wants to preserve the benefits that seniority brings such as a convenient schedule and favorable class assignments without having to increase his investment in teaching the students.
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