Experience is a Great Teacher

As a school principal for many years I have learnt that experience might not always be the “best” teacher, but it almost always results in the most enduring lessons.

We know from research (and by experiences) that a great teacher will create ways to give our students the reason to learn specific skills or knowledge.  Great teachers then provide the opportunity to demonstrate their learning. A great teacher will keep the students wanting to come to school just to see what interesting things they will explore and discover each day. We call this inquiry.

To produce great teachers you need leaders who are capable of taking risks, to support staff during tough times and to hold fast when others  begin to falter. Principals are the central piece in the learning journey and the key factor in building teacher teaching experience. They need to be able to communicate their support for teachers to take measured risks and in doing so work closely with their teachers; side by side in discussion and planning.

Principals that encourage build learning experiences for their teachers (and not just offering PD courses) and seek justification on the teaching practices used. Such principals instill a reflective practice that engages teachers in examining their teaching practice. A desire to self improve is the outcome of such deliberations.

Given the plethora of research around the teacher being the biggest factor in raising student achievement, the way we treat and support our leaders could well be the most important determiner of an education authority’s success.

smooth seas

Albert Einstein once said “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards”. I think the success of experience can be determined by how we implement the lessons learnt.

Author: Dr Jake Madden

Jake Madden (Dip Teach; B.Ed; Grad Dip: Leadership; M. Ed: Leadership; EdD; FACEL; MACE) Dr. Jake Madden is currently the Principal, St Edward’s Primary School, Tamworth. He has enjoyed a successful teaching and principal leadership career over the last thirty years building teacher capacity through the development of learning in the contemporary world, the promotion of flexible learning spaces to meet the needs of the 21st century learner and curriculum for global mindedness. Jake is a leader in the notion of teacher-as-researcher and is widely published in this area, authoring and co-authoring books and a number of journal articles showcasing his experiences and research into leading educational change.

2 thoughts on “Experience is a Great Teacher”

  1. A thought provoking article and an interesting reflection. I have learnt through my work with inquiry that as a learning community we are, indeed, following the inquiry process at my school as teachers as learners. This is an excellent illustration of same.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: