The Myth of the Super Teacher

I prepared for my first teaching gig undaunted by my lack of experience.  After all, I had a literature degree from a prestigious liberal arts school, I had been mostly successful at everything I had tried, and I knew the students would appreciate my compassion and creativity.  I’d be a great first-year teacher.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

As teacher and writer Roxanna Elden states in this must-watch presentation below, “In the movies, there is a short period of trial and error, and then the teacher figures out the secret to teaching, which is showing kids that you care, and this works really well, because all of the other teachers in the movie, interestingly enough, got into teaching because they don’t care about kids, and they just need this person who is brand new to set them straight.”

I remember feeling so dejected, frustrated, and run-down because I thought that because I cared so much, I’d be successful.

What I needed was more practical, honest advice.  I needed more guidance from veteran teachers.  I needed to know manageable steps to improve the next day.  I needed to detach myself from the myth that NO first-year teacher is good at his or her job.

The Myth of the Super Teacher from EdWriters on Vimeo.

Based on my own experience and observations, it takes at least three years to start becoming a consistently good teacher.  Yet many teachers, like myself, at tough urban schools, never make it through three years. It makes little sense to staff schools filled with the most needy students with young, idealistic teachers, hoping to live up to the Myth of the Super Teacher, but like many policies and status-quos in public education, it’s an entrenched and destructive pattern for all parties involved.  


  1. Great post and I love the video.
    You can also have very good years and very bad years, even as an experienced, dedicated teacher. Been there, done that, wear the t-shirt to bed…:)
    I did a piece on my blog about student teachers that also applies to first year teachers. It’s hard work.

  2. Paul, Where is your video of your experiences and lessons learned during your first year? Insights and suggestions you would offer new teachers? W

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