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November 7, 2023

5 Ways to Support Your Veteran Teachers as School Leaders

Every teacher has challenges and opportunities while helping students with varying needs and abilities. Educators also have varying needs. One way to provide differentiated support for teachers is based on years of experience in the profession.

School leaders can support veteran educators by focusing on the five topics of culture, relationships, innovation, learning, and leadership. All five of these topics can be supported during the three stages of explore, plan, and empower. Explore includes learning and discussing. Plan includes practicing, reflecting, self-assessing, and strategic application. Empower includes creating opportunities for choice, modeling, and leading. Other educators could also benefit from these topics and stages, but this blog deliberately explores benefits and opportunities for veteran educators.

Veteran educators most likely have experience and an understanding of these five important topics. Their experiences with students, colleagues, parents, curriculum, and topics result in knowledge, wisdom, and expertise that should be acknowledged and celebrated. Others can benefit when deliberate opportunities are created to tap into and strengthen educators’ knowledge, wisdom, and expertise. Let’s explore the five topics that can guide support for experienced educators.   

Create opportunities to enhance culture.  

School administrators should prioritize the topics noted below to foster a culture of continuous learning, collaboration, excellence, and a healthy school environment in their school. Professional learning, data-informed decisions, collaboration, differentiated learning, technology integration, family engagement, inclusive education, timely feedback, and well-being and mental health of students and staff.

Benefits or positives can be amplified by listening to the voices of staff and students and involving them in improving culture. Veteran educator experiences with positive and negative cultures enhance awareness of components and effectiveness of different cultures in classrooms, schools, and school districts. They can collaboratively explore and plan to enhance culture so they can empower students and colleagues. For example, they can guide targeted culture initiatives, support, or activities for students and/or staff.

Create opportunities to enhance relationships and shared responsibility.

Veteran educator’s valuable experiences and impacts with different types of students, peers, leaders, and systems provide a unique lens that should be communicated. 

Experienced educators can collaboratively explore and plan to enhance relationships so they can empower students and colleagues. They can also collaborate with other educators in different schools, districts, cities, states, and countries. The results should include a better understanding of students that helps inspire passion and moments related to strengths and interests. 

Create opportunities to enhance innovation.

Empowering educators to help guide change, problem-solve, support differentiation, and build memories. Integrate these strategies to enhance positive learning impact. For example, when it comes to differentiation, focus on offering information in various formats, using formative assessment and feedback, peer tutoring, using technology to personalize and adapt, a flexible assessment that allows students to demonstrate their understanding in different ways, and teaching self-regulation and metacognitive strategies. Accomplish this by researching topics that can be enhanced, learning from experts and other educators, and involving students in different parts of the process. 

Veteran educator experiences, problem-solving skills, and knowledge on how to identify opportunities can be blended with new resources, opportunities, technologies, and perspectives to inspire collaborative exploration, planning, and empowerment, bringing incredible value that should not go underestimated. 

Create opportunities to enhance continuous learning.

Focus on a shared vision and mission of professional learning, coaching, and mentoring. 

Veteran teachers have been in new teachers’ shoes so their guidance is invaluable for helping with retention. Mentoring can focus on classroom management, curriculum, planning, engagement, teaching, learning, assessment, feedback, inclusion, educational technology, reflection, social-emotional support, culture, relationships, problem-solving, communication, and work-life balance. Instructional coaching opportunities enhance impact in a variety of ways. Learn more about how to coach with a growth mindset by reading blogs on my website.

Experienced educators typically understand that change is inevitable and can be healthy and productive. They can help understand perspectives within the organization about what is working well, challenges, and options for support. Experiences with different professional learning opportunities can shape their recommendations for school districts. For example, choices regarding topics, format, sequence, timelines, and pace of professional development. Benefits or positives can be amplified to develop a learning organization that collaboratively appreciates learning from mistakes while enhancing effectiveness, efficiency, and impact.

Create opportunities to enhance leadership with committees.

Committees made up of veteran teachers that are guiding a change such as field testing and adopting a new curriculum for a subject can highly impact a school and district. Additionally, a leadership committee such as a Vision and Governance Council could provide opportunities to be a larger part of the district decision-making process by collaborating with administrators during the planning process.

Their experiences with varying leadership styles and systems provide a unique lens that school and district leaders should take advantage of. Providing these experienced educators with the opportunity to collaboratively explore and enhance shared leadership will ultimately empower and support students and colleagues. In addition, provide opportunities for choice about which of these areas your experienced teachers want to learn more about and be more involved in. The focus seems to be mostly on new teachers these days, but it’s important we do not forget our valuable veteran teachers.

What different ways can or will you support and empower veteran educators? Please share comments with me via X , formerly Twitter (@Erik_Youngman), and find additional information about collaboration opportunities via my website, ErikYoungman.com


About the Author

Dr. Erik Youngman is an education leader who is passionate about topics such as homework, growth mindset, grading, and leadership.  Published books he has written include, “The Magic of Growth Mindset,” and “12 Characteristics of Deliberate Homework,” as well as a chapter for, “100 No-Nonsense Things That All Teachers Should Stop Doing.” Erik has also written numerous blogs about growth mindset and grading.

This is his twenty-third year in educational leadership.  Erik is the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning for Libertyville District 70 in Libertyville, Illinois.  Previous education experiences include being a principal in Libertyville as well as an assistant principal and teacher in Gurnee, Illinois.

Erik earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, an Education Specialist Degree, a Master of Science in Education from Northern Illinois University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Augustana College.

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