A teacher needs to be many things, and one of them is a team player. There is always something to learn and many times there's a better way of doing things. We need to be open to suggestions. We don't always have to jump on the bandwagon, but at least take a helping hand or suggestion under consideration... especially if it is from someone more experienced or who has had more training than yourself.
It should be remembered, however, that sometimes we have "seasoned" teachers in a program who are using outdated and even harmful or inappropriate techniques (just because it's how they've "always done things."). I think we all know these people. They have a file of activities, some for every season... and a child this Spring will experience the same activities another child did eight years ago in her room. Her practice is predictable and out of the box.
How boring, you might say. But for this teacher, it is safe and familiar. She even has her original, cracked and faded sample to show them, so they get the idea and everyone’s product can look like hers. Yes, she’s in dire need of fresh ideas and new approaches. Oh, but process activities are messy compared to what she does and why make changes that mean more work?
Another seasoned teacher may keep the children in one, large group and herd them around from one activity to another. She knows other teachers use centers, where small groups of children choose activities and she realizes what she is doing is exhausting, even on a good day. She’s fearful, however, of losing control. Letting her group loose to choose for themselves just seems out of the question. Even though we see the problem, we have to respect her feelings and understand what's driving it.
Changing these kinds of mindsets will not be easy and, of course, some may not be changed at all. But to have any chance at all, we need to use a gentle approach. Find things she does well and work from there. Offer suggestions, encourage, be helpful, share ideas, and model. If she sees how other methods actually work, she won’t fear them. And, this will open the door to change.
Teaching is just one profession that requires a commitment to life-long learning. Doing what's best for children should be a top priority, even if it means humbling oneself and admitting we need help or information, or getting the training we need to do things right.