How Many Years Before a Teacher Hits Their Stride?

Posted by Tahlea Jankoski on August 18, 2017



How long does it take for a teacher to find their groove? When you think of musicians, athletes, artists, doctors, or attorneys—it may take at least five years to start feeling like the profession is being mastered. Teachers generally experience the same number of years, and may even need ten to fifteen years in their profession to feel like they have finally hit their stride. 

It has been well understood that students have greater academic gains when a teacher has more experience. The Learning Policy Institute has reported that teacher experience matters even into the second decade of teaching. Here are some changes that occur as teachers gain more experience. 

First few years of teaching

Teachers improve and expand their experience significantly in the beginning years of their career as they are faced with a new environment, new challenges, and are learning to organize classroom curriculum. Teachers starting out can struggle with determining how to navigate classroom management. A study from Public Agenda found that new teachers need more help knowing how to discipline students and teach those struggling with classroom curriculum. 

Two to five years  - Mid-career

When teachers reach their mid-career (five to ten years of experience), they may take on more responsibilities in their profession. Mid-career teachers have more confidence and have learned what education strategies work in different learning environments. Teachers may struggle trying to juggle a lot of responsibilities during this time and often consider taking on a new role in education or getting an advanced degree. Satisfaction and achievement with the experience that has been gained in the last several years can mean mid-career teachers may see an increase in salary. 

More than ten years of teaching - Veteran 

Veteran teachers have learned much through their career and know how to moderate a lot of different classroom situations to improve student learning. Educators find that they feel more like a veteran when they are at least ten years into their career. Yet, they are always learning to adapt to the academic needs of their students. 

Developing teacher - mentor relationships

Educators often recommend teachers develop mentor relationships to help each other get through the challenges and learn from each other. Various teaching styles, ways of helping students who struggle in class, and inspiring each other to master classroom organization can all be influenced in teacher-mentor relationships. This relationship can help students receive more academic gains when teachers continue learning from each other and find new ways to present complex topics in the classroom. 


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