In learning from the ultra-newbies (the recent graduates), these ones are the ones who enter the profession bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (sorry for the cliche but it does fit) and full of belief and enthusiasm for the profession and indeed their and their students' forthcoming futures. Obviously for any new teacher Term 1 is beyond a baptism of fire and often about survive over thrive but once beyond this time period and with a solid understanding of their located institutions' written (and most importantly) unwritten rules and protocols, they truly find their feet and many quickly establish themselves as ones with exceptional aptitude and attitude. In often a brevity of time compared with more seasoned veterans, many of these "newbies" become middle leaders to the untrained eye very, very quickly but to this one's eyes at a fair pace due to sufficient ability. I have alway been a firm believer in quality of experience and practice over longevity or quantity of service. In my current place of employment, we have had second year teachers become deans, few-year teachers take up Assistant Head of Department roles and as a further case-in-point, one of my key people on our Aorere Digital Advisory is a second year teacher. Despite many other teachers being vastly more experienced, in terms of what we needed and what was missing from the advisory was this person with the right mix of pedagogical insight, vision and a consummate understanding of culturally responsive practice.
Thankfully now these "newbies" in our school are encouraged to establish their own pedagogy-in-play as soon as possible and their voices are given as much equity as anyone else's in our workplace. To be blunt, to be new gives one often the advantage of no previous history or baggage that may limit the promotion of new learning concepts or implementations. The other great asset of the freshly graduated "newbies" is that they haven't been weathered down by the profession and and on a wider level, the great challenges of adulthood itself. In many ways, these "newbies" are also more at ease with social media and digital technology in the classroom alongside the presence of greater student voice and agency than the old guard for these "newbies" themselves have known nothing different in their own lives. Myself in contrast remembers a time when Vic 20 computers required a tape deck to play games and even further back when my father's desk took up the space of a dining room table and had no screen.
The other great "newbies" who are awesome to learn from are the ones who have joined us from overseas and/or later in their working life. The overseas teachers in many cases have had to cope with teaching and learning conditions far less conducive than their new found surroundings and often with class sizes and resources most of us only of New Zealand education exposure would no doubt be horrified at. Regardless of the limitations of the previous learning spaces, these teachers provide great learning in that they did not expect less from their students and never used the limitations of their classrooms as an excuse for poor educational attainment. In a similar vein, the teachers who enter the profession often decades into their working life bring to the classroom and staffroom a social justice lens and a want to bring about educational advancement as they have seen the benefits of student learning in their own lives and now are at a stage where they effectively want "to give back." Many of the late additions to teaching come for the wealth not of a teacher's salary but because they believe they can make a difference not just to student academic performance but also student lives. Many if not all of these teachers in my experience have a relentless, almost unshakeable belief in the benefits of education to transform student, family and community futures, Many of these teachers also have rather, unique teaching and learning styles and philosophies, shaped as much by their life experiences as by any of their teacher training consumptions.
To the really, really good teachers, the notion of teachers being learners and lifelong ones at that is nothing new, neither is the considerable benefits of learning from one's peers. Every time we have a new teacher join our illustrious institution, they often voice how just how lucky they are. In response, they often present something akin to disbelief when I mention that the school and old guard are similarly lucky for these individuals' arrivals. I now no longer try to explain myself, time will do it for me. Just give these "newbies" some time and one day, they will realise and they too will look forward to the "newbies" and the accompanying learning that makes all of us stronger and smarter individually and indeed collectively. This includes all us old dogs waiting for the new, learning, new tricks!