How Long Since You Were in a Classroom?

Occasionally I hear teachers say that they question learning from presenters or facilitators who have been out of the classroom for a while. That’s a reasonable concern but it’s also very contextual.

Being a grandparent is much like being a consultant. While it’s been a while since I was “in the trenches” of parenting and times have changed, my experience and wisdom still have value to today’s parents.

Involved and good grandparents are still aware of the societal challenges of the day. They avoid references to the good old days as some kind of panacea but also try and apply what’s good and has always been good to their grandchildren.

They are keenly aware of their own failures as parents and work to carefully support their children in being better parents than they were.

As a consultant, I work to stay relevant. I also acknowledge there are new challenges today that I agree are complex and require support, collaboration and wisdom to solve.

The number of years you’ve been out of the classroom does not have to be a negative. What makes someone a good leader or good teacher has not changed to the degree many think it has. Good pedagogy and building relationships are somewhat universal. Certainly, tools and context changes but the foundational principles do not.

I’m a better grandparent than I was a parent. I think I’m probably a better consultant than I was a teacher. My time away from the classroom helped me see many things I did poorly. Part of the challenge of teaching is the lack of time and support available to improve. Coaching and consulting are intended to alleviate some of the time and support constraints.

Learning from another classroom teacher or person in the same position as you can be very valuable. You can easily put yourself in their shoes and vice versa. You often deal with similar issues and challenges so transferring their learning is often easy to do. But as a consultant, I have the great privilege of working and seeing many more people across many more circumstances and situations. That is not something that another classroom teacher or school leader has. My experience includes not only my own but the hundreds of educators I’ve worked closely with over the years.

The credentials of the consultant should be questioned. But not by how long they’ve been out of the classroom but by the quality of their coaching and facilitation skills and their understanding of current realities.