An excerpt of a letter to a young teacher

…You told us your department head has observed you only once in the past three months and offered few suggestions, none of which have worked. Your mentor listens to you and suggests alternatives, but has no time in her schedule to spend time in your classroom. You feel alone, deserted with thirty armchair desks full of uninterested students.

What can you do? You might begin by stepping back and take the long view of your life as a teacher. You have already told me you had decided to become a teacher when you sat in Mr. Rowe’s tenth-grade science class. You admired his unique manner, his gift of storytelling, and his understanding of the deeper purposes of biology. You saw yourself as like him, and then decided you wanted to teach biology as he has.

Now you are in your own room, but your teaching is not like Mr. Rowe’s. I know you are disappointed. But, if you take the long view and visualize putting it all together, you will see you will not become Mr. Rowe, nor should you. Becoming a teacher—a great teacher—takes years (at least ten) of giving one hundred and ten percent every day. It is an iterative process that demands commitment, energy, and persistence. I have no doubt from our conversations that you will accept the challenge…

Can schools be patient with new teachers?

Can we give them time to become good?


For more on this crucial issue see Chapter 18 “Take the Long View” in Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting Students to Learn from Amazon: