Most educators erroneously believe that more years of teaching experience make better teachers. In Teachers Make a Difference, Hattie disagrees with this notion, positing that excellent teachers should be identified by their expertise, rather than by their experience (Hattie, 2003). This paper presents my reflections on this distinction between expert teachers and experienced teachers. My position is that one does not need to have years of teaching experience to be considered as an expert teacher.
To begin with, teachers need adequate training, access to relevant resources, and a particular set of habits of mind to ensure exceptional effects on student learning. Given that “what students bring to the table… predicts achievement more than any other variable” (Hattie, 2003, p. 1), proper training is required in designing fully inclusive plans, and in relationship building. Besides, I believe that students should have access to interactive, individualized technology resources. I value being open to continuous learning, paying attention to surroundings, and thinking flexibly, as they will enable me to use real-time feedback to improve my teaching (“What are the habits of mind”, 2020). In short, proper training, adequate resources, and these habits of mind will help me become an expert teacher from the outset.
That being said, expert teachers are able and ready to compensate for insufficient resources or training. One way to compensate is to design lesson plans that allow for the sharing of resources. Giving longer assignment windows also ensures that students gain access to scarce resource. Additionally, I can compensate for insufficient training by co-teaching with an expert teacher for some time. This would give me the chance to observe them and incorporate their methods into my teaching. However, I would ultimately address gaps in my training by pursuing professional development opportunities. I believe that my resourcefulness and open-mindedness will enable me to overcome such insufficiencies, and thus, show that I am an expert teacher.
I have always believed that the goal of education is to ensure that students learn the concepts they set out to learn. All other factors matter only if they work together to assure the achievement of the learning goal. Therefore, I agree with Hattie’s observation that student achievement is influenced the most by excellence in teaching and not by teacher experience (Hattie, 2003). That is, I think that teaching that ensures maximum understanding matters more than the experience of a person delivering the lesson.
I believe that my current skill set and forthcoming training will enable me to demonstrate most of Hattie’s attributes of expert teachers. However, some of the attributes such as “deep representations about teaching and learning…[being a] better decision-maker…[having a] complex perception of classroom situations…[and being] more automatic” will take time (Hattie, 2003, pp. 5-8). This is because these attributes can only develop through increased interactions with content and with my students, during the teaching process.
Based on the discussions here, I can confidently say that my Algebra 1 teacher was an expert. He always tied each lesson to fundamental concepts, and he knew how to address everyone’s needs to ensure they were learning. His classes were also characterized by a lot of student involvement. He respected his students, and it was clear that he enjoyed teaching. His students always reported a much better understanding of the material, which was proved by their performance on tests.
In conclusion, I agree with John Hattie that there are differences between experienced teachers and expert teachers, and that one does not need to have years of teaching experience to be an expert teacher. It is true that some of the outlined attributes that define an expert teacher necessarily take time to develop. However, I believe that having the proper habits of mind, and getting proper training, can set one up to be an expert teacher from the very first day of their career as a teacher.
Hattie, J. (2003). Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence? In Building Teacher Quality What does the research tell us, ACER Research Conference (pp. 1–17). Melbourne. Web.
What are the habits of mind? (2020). TeachThought. Web.