Alchemy of Teaching: Experience, Leadership, and the Science and Art of Education

Alchemy of Teaching: Experience, Leadership, and the Science and Art of Education

Stephanie Marie Williams (Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1306-4.ch013


This chapter examines how second-career teachers' prior experience impacts student success. Through a review of research literature, this chapter explores second-career teachers' ability to draw from their accumulated knowledge, experience, and wisdom to enrich classroom instruction, and the impact such experience has on students' success. This chapter also examines the relevance of transformative learning theory, constructivist learning theory, and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory to a second-career teacher experiential approach to teaching and the impact such experience has on the students' success. The author compares the teaching approaches of the initial-career teacher and the second-career teacher.
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Teachers are at the core of learning. This chapter will deal with the alchemy—the chemistry or science and art of teaching and learning and the potential impact a second-career teacher has on student success.

Alchemy enables one’s experiences to be reflected upon and applied to the transformation of the self (Mayes, 2003). The chapter identifies elements that will help provide a foundation for success for the second-career teacher. The author explores the second-career teacher’s experience in comparison to that of the initial-career teacher, and highlights ways in which the second-career teacher may have a greater impact on student and classroom success.

Mastery of pedagogical knowledge of content is determined by the degree awarded. However, this chapter delves into the importance of the relationship between the teacher and student—and the impact of intended positive results on the student. It does so through the exploration of variables—variables such as effective teaching behaviors, teacher self-efficacy, the classroom environment, and teacher-student relationships—that set the stage for optimal learning to occur. An examination and comparison of initial-career teachers and second-career teachers is made.

The ultimate goal of effective education is the creation of a well-run organization in which students achieve at optimal levels (Senge et al., 1994). Success, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2019), is achieving a favorable or desired outcome. Student success is defined as achieving a desired outcome based on those goals set by the organization all of which will benefit internal and external stakeholders, especially students.

As previously stated, when an educator earns a certification, it is expected to be verification of content mastery and content-level expertise. Hammond (1998) refers to this content mastery as vital to student success, “First, teachers need to understand subject matter deeply and flexibly, so that they can help students create useful cognitive maps, relate ideas to one another, and address misconceptions.” A second-career teacher has the capability to bring history, knowledge and experience to the scenario. This kind of understanding provides a foundation for pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 1987) and sets the stage for the opportunity for the second-career teacher to merge pedagogical knowledge with classroom teaching experience.

The power of an effective teacher is something that most students experience during their formal K–12 career. As adults reflect on their exceptional experiences, the passion and caring attitude of the teacher surfaces as the key to success. Stronge (2018) discusses the impact a caring teacher has as “beloved masters of their craft who inspire a student to excel.” The author continues to describe an effective teacher as one who “can be seen, heard, and sensed.” This sense of effectiveness is aptly stated as being impactful to student achievement (success) (Sergiovalli, 2005).

It is about the teachers who are passionate about teaching and interacting with students in a meaningful manner who make a difference. Tucker and Stronge (2005) discuss the transformative power an effective teacher has on enriching the daily lives of children and making a lifelong impact on their future careers and life choices. In Table 1, the authors list key qualities identified as being characteristic of effective teachers.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: A humanistic theory that establishes the value of meeting basic needs in order that higher needs, such as self-actualization, can be met.

Second-Career Teacher: An adult who has had a previous career with a depth of experience and returns to college to secure a teacher certification to begin an additional career.

Novice Teacher: A first-career teacher who is beginning to develop a teaching philosophy, personal teaching style, and classroom management in the classroom.

Individuality: The individual nature of both the teacher and the student based on personality, social, and intellectual differences.

Learning Environment: This refers to the classroom where the teacher and students interact.

Constructivist Learning Theory: A learning theory that implies learning is based on meaning-making and building new knowledge on prior knowledge.

Organizational Success: An organization that attains established goals based on the needs of the internal and external stakeholders.

Transformative Learning Theory: The work and life experience a second-career teacher can apply to current situations, which results in a profound depth of learning.

Student Success: Students’ ability to attain established goals based on the goals set forth by individual school districts.

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