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.
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.