Information Shared by My Friend Mariah D’Neiro A Professional Teacher from California.
Six content and task-specific overlapping phases of the career of a committed teacher: novice,
apprentice, professional, expert, distinguished, and emeritus. These six assumptions underlie
- Teachers desire to improve their skills.
- Preparation, school contexts, personal attributes, and systems of support affect development.
- Inquiry about teaching encourages learning among teachers and students.
- Levels of teaching influence are affected by the ability of the teacher to learn and complete scholarly work, and their commitment to growth.
- The context of the teaching environment affects professional growth and/or separation.
- Excellence in teaching is achieved through caring for students, self, ideas and the profession.
The novice teaching phase extends from the time preservice students initiate their practicums
until they complete the student teaching and/or intern experiences for students in traditional
teacher preparation programs. During this phase, students are prepared in subject matter,
professional development, and pedagogy. Students are introduced to clinical settings and often
are initially hesitant and unsure of themselves. The candidates learn more about managing
students, classrooms, and instruction from practicing professional teachers while further
developing their understandings and teaching skills in clinical settings.
The apprentice phase begins when the teachers have the full responsibility of planning,
delivering and evaluating instruction. It extends until they are confident in their knowledge of
subject matter and how to effectively teach to meet student needs. Teachers are often very
passionate and idealistic during this phase. They are open to new ideas, desire to be a part of the
professional community, and are willing to try new strategies. This phase often lasts from early
teaching practicums into the third year of teaching. Disillusionment with the heavy demands of
the profession along with changes in career development and their adult roles cause many
apprentice teachers to elect to separate from the profession.
Individuals and leaders in the agricultural education profession can assure greater numbers move into the next phase through sponsorship and implementation of quality teacher induction
programs for beginning agricultural education teachers. Individual interventions and programs
that provide support, assessment of performance, and answers for common needs of beginning
teachers are critical. See the article “What We All Can Do To Keep Beginning Agricultural
Education Teachers In The Profession!”, in News and Views (August/September 2002) for
suggestions for this phase.
Student feedback is critical in developing teacher confidence. Professional teachers are viewed
by students to be helpful, available, kind, and understanding. Student feedback is critical in
developing teacher confidence. Professional teachers view themselves to be student advocates.
Professional teachers are happiest in working and interacting with their current and past students.
They have few, if any, plans to become administrators. Acts of gratitude from students are
greatly treasured by the professional teachers. Valuing reflection and continued time for
professional development, professional teachers know the importance of time for observation,
reflection, and interaction. Often on the prowl for innovative ideas from respected colleagues
and inservice opportunities, the professional teachers greatly value peer advice, assistance,
support and guidance.
How can we more effectively meet the professional development needs of the professional
teacher? Steffy and Wolfe recommend professional development opportunities that are
grounded in current research and best practices that promote reflection, provide time to learn
from one another, and are directly related to teacher goals and interests. Opportunities within
local schools and professional organizations to work with colleagues, receive and provide peer
teaching reviews, interact with colleagues personally and through e-mail, and attend professional
conferences and seminars are important to the continued professional growth of all agricultural
education teachers. Professional agricultural education teachers can be recognized for their
expertise by inviting them to host preservice teachers from university teacher preparation
programs, serve as mentors, provide inservice education workshops, write instructional
materials, and participate in leadership roles in regional, state, and national agricultural education teacher organizations (for example, NAAE).
Attuned to what helps all students learn—regardless of learning style, background, and ability
levels—these “with it” expert agricultural education teachers prepare for a variety of student
responses and provide differentiated instruction to promote optimal achievement and growth.
Expert teachers provide a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment. Often associated with
other leading teachers within the profession, these teachers incorporate the latest ideas and
practices while maintaining leadership roles in professional organizations. Expert teachers are
involved in and learn through participation in their professional, school, and community
organizations. Expert agricultural education teachers possess the dispositions, skills, attitudes,
and knowledge wished for by every parent and student.
How can agricultural education address the professional development needs of expert teachers?
Steffy and Wolfe suggest expert teachers need the encouragement and time to attend and present at professional conferences; co-teach inservice and preservice education courses with university teacher preparation and state staff; serve as a mentor teacher; and go on sabbatical leaves to continue their education. Invitations should be made to expert teachers by leaders in agricultural education to address the foregoing suggestions. In addition, expert teachers should be provided occasions to serve on site-based management and advisory committees.
Opportunities also need to be provided for these teachers to be involved in creating instructional materials for others in agricultural education, participate in planning and delivering inservice education programs, and take part in peer review and coaching activities. Experts often value serving as student teacher hosts and/or mentors for beginning teachers. The NAAE and state AAE, along with universitysponsored teacher education programs, should continue to sponsor a variety of inservice opportunities for attendance and participation by expert teachers.
The distinguished teacher is a truly gifted teacher who is known and highly respected by all in
the profession. These individuals, who often bring a unique and wider education experience to
their students, have an impact upon local, regional, state, and/or national decisions related to all
levels of education. These well-regarded individuals are consulted by outside policy-makers
because of their knowledge, influence and expertise.
How can the profession meet the professional development needs of the distinguished
agricultural education teachers? Steffe and Wolfe offer several suggestions. First of all,
opportunities need to be made to involve them in creating and delivering advanced level
coursework for novice, apprentice, and professional teachers; exemplars (for example, videos,
instructional materials) of teaching practices; and workshops and papers for national
conferences. Distinguished teachers need to have time and encouragement to take sabbatical
study leaves, assume leadership roles in the professional organizations, mentor beginning and
developing teachers, and host students in the preservice agricultural education programs.
Emeritus teachers are those that have left a mark upon the profession after a lifetime in the
profession. Many emeritus agricultural education teachers leave the middle, secondary, and/or
postsecondary classrooms and pursue roles in postsecondary, higher education, or various roles
in administration. Other emeritus agricultural education teachers and administrators continue to
serve the profession as volunteers on foundation boards, ex-officio members of organizations,
mentors of beginning teachers, and political and organizational advocates for agricultural
What can we do in agricultural education to make these distinguished and renowned educators
feel welcome and remain contributing members of our profession? We need to go out of our
way to involve them in our professional activities. In addition, we need to maintain an
awareness and support of their volunteer and special activities that are related to agricultural