Experienced vs Expert Teachers

I recently watched a paper being debated at the 2018 PPTA conference. This paper was entitled “Career Pathways – Subject Pedagogy Specialists” . During the debate one teacher spoke to how he already “is a subject expert”. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. But he certainly thinks he is. I have my doubts though.

I think the difference in one person’s confidence, and my doubts is what I am calling the difference between experienced teachers and expert teachers.

An experienced teacher could be a great teacher (or not…), they know their curriculum and they are effective communicators in class. They manage behaviour well in their classes, students enjoy their classes and they come out of their classes as stronger learners than when they entered.

An expert teacher on the other hand knows why they are a great teacher. They know what pedagogy works specifically for their subject area. They also know other types of subject specific pedagogy and they could compare and contrast the different methods. They know a variety of classroom management techniques and know which are effective for a certain type of teacher and a certain type of classroom. They understand evidence in their classroom, and also they understand evidence more broadly in education research. Expert teachers are very aware of their own weak areas and a working towards improving them.

For me the difference between a experienced and expert teacher is the difference between a great rugby player and a great rugby coach.

I do not profess to be an expert teacher. In fact, I think I am still searching for one to help me. And that is the real reason I want to push in form these two pay scales. One reason is one day I aspire to be there, but for now I just want to meet one, and learn from them.

I seriously believe that teaching wont be recognised as a “true profession” if we continue to spout the mantra that “every teacher is equal”, and “every teacher is an expert”, when in fact both of these mantras are very far from the truth. As Hattie continues to say “too much discussion is focused on between-school differences when the greatest issue is the differences within schools”. That is, the differences between teachers.

I think, until we have teachers that can explain what they are doing, and why they are doing it (subject specific pedagogy, and classroom management etc), then we will continue to not be seen as a true profession, unlike medicine or engineering.

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