There’s plenty of debate about whether experience makes a good teacher, but the better question may be whether adaptability plays a factor in student success.
Certainly, intuition would suggest that it does. And Roggeman’s experience bears this out. She recalls seeing young teachers arrive in the classroom through an organization that recruited high-achieving college graduate students to serve as teachers in underserved communities.
Those teachers, Roggeman recalls, had a hard time relating to their students. “They would sometimes struggle when they would go into schools because their life experiences were so different from those of the students they taught,” she explains.
On the flip side, Roggeman recalls a former student who was a Navy SEAL veteran who decided to pursue a career in teaching after retiring from the military. He, too, had a hard time managing his class. (His military experience meant he expected orders to be followed without question.) But after he learned classroom management strategies, he was able to adapt.
Roggeman explains: “He was actually easier to work with, because I’d be like, ‘OK, well this is what you need to do. You need to be consistent. You need to establish rules. You need to have consequences.’
“He understood those things in a way that some of his colleagues did not. Understanding the development stage students were in, he was able to discern when it was appropriate for his students to give input and when they did not. Some of his younger, less experienced colleagues could not make that distinction.
“And I’m like, ‘Yeah, you absolutely want to give your kids input into their class. But first you need to establish expectations.’”