Voices at the Table

Colissa JordanBlog, Connect Better


  • Both veteran and novice teachers have things they can learn from one another.
  • All teachers should feel confident in sharing with others, as all voices at the table bring value.

“So tell me what you want, what you really, really want

I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha) I wanna, (ha)

I wanna really, really, really wanna zigazig ah”

I remember when this song first came out. Catchy lyrics, nice little groove. The Spice Girls hit the scene with a song that stuck in one’s head and did not let go. Members of Generation X had no problem understanding the meaning of the song. For others, there was a complete disconnect as well as even a little bit of fear of this hippity hop mumble jumble.

In essence, the same can be said in education.

Seasoned educators find themselves now pitted against new teachers, sitting at a table of confusion, mired in research, and new technology and jargon that no longer makes sense. At staff and department meetings in districts across the nation, educators who were once seen as leaders and heads of the table are now the silent diners, afraid to voice opinions, concerns, and years of experiences.

They feel as though their voices no longer matter and their ideas are outdated in the face of newer educators who bring to the table new skills, innovative best practices, and a never-ending passion for teaching and learning.

When working together, let the love of teaching and the goal of keeping education student-centered remain at the table so all voices are heard. Click To Tweet

On the plates of fresh educators are the latest terminology and corporation-packaged ways of instructing and engaging students that most veteran teachers learned eons ago, but now seem foreign.

However, it all seems foreign to someone who has been at the table for years and knew the strategy under a whole other language. For example, what was once referred to as Think Pair Share is now Rally Robin. The question now becomes: how do we present and embrace all ideas and views from all levels of educators in the best interest of teaching and learning? Everyone at the table has a voice.

No doubt exists that everyone—new and experienced—brings something to the table. The veteran teacher has valuable experience whereas the new teacher brings the ability to embrace change.  It all begins with seeking and building relationships, learning from each other’s experiences, and supporting one another in the classroom.

Voices at the Table: Relationships

It is the responsibility of a veteran educator to support and nurture a new teacher. The veteran teacher makes a great mentor. He or she can offer practical solutions to age-old problems. In building the relationship, the quality of instruction as well as the climate and culture of the building improves immensely because the veteran and new teacher find out that each has a lot to learn from the other.

Voices at the Table: Learning

Share lessons and observe each other’s classrooms. The experienced teacher can offer advice on time management; likewise, the new teacher can demonstrate that they are contributors to the learning environment. It is all right to admit that what we use to do is no longer feasible in the 21st century but can be improved upon.

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Voices at the Table: Support

New teachers worry that they are not seen as competent educators. They spend many days struggling to just survive. Showing up in a supportive role will help the disconnect each person feels. It can be a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on, or a person who has “been there, done that.”

It is not always up to the administration to foster relationships, demand a sharing of experiences, or to create opportunities for support between different levels of staff in the building. Naturally, the mere fact that they are professionals and colleagues demands that each seek out the other and together, create an environment of collaboration that makes the voices at the table advantageous for learning.

Newer educators should not let the latest technology or techniques block understanding; veteran educators should in turn not allow their experience numb them to new ideas. When working together, let the love of teaching and the goal of keeping education student-centered remain at the table so all voices are heard.

About Colissa R. Brogden

Colissa R. Brogden is in her 20th year as an English Language Arts Educator. Currently, she teaches ELA 11th and 12th at Great Oaks Career Campuses in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a former Adjunct at the University of Cincinnati. She has a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and enjoys sharing best practices with other educators. Teaching and learning is her passion. She is dedicated to teaching and empowering her students with the skills to be exceptional individuals!