Public Primary and Secondary School
Interviewee: Özge Acar, Head of Department
“ In our school, age-related problems primarily affect younger teachers who face difficulties in their relationships with students, colleagues, and adapting to the school environment, leading to discipline and psychological issues. ”
“ The main reasons behind these challenges are inadequate preparation for younger teachers and concerns related to physical and mental aging for older teachers, impacting their ability to meet school and student expectations. ”
“ Experienced teachers nearing retirement age are seen as an asset, not a problem, but generational differences can sometimes lead to challenges in communication and understanding. ”
“ Open communication with the school administration and mutual support among colleagues are employed to address age-related issues, helping to prevent small problems from escalating. ”
“ One notable positive effect of these measures is the heightened awareness of age-related problems among teachers, leading to more informed and effective solutions. ”
Do you face any issues and problems related to the age of your teachers? Please, describe the situation in your school in a few words.
I am a teacher in a public school and the average age of teachers in our school is below 50, so it is not easy for me to talk about a problem arising from aging or old age both in the school and in the department where I work as a department manager. On the contrary, I can say that new teachers in our school experience various problems in their relationships with students, school administrators, colleagues and the school environment, and they face discipline problems in their classes. We also see that young teachers have difficulties in adapting to the organisation and social structure of the school in the first years of their profession, and as a result, they experience psychological problems such as stress, depression, anxiety and fatigue.
Of course, we also have a few teachers in our school who have a lot of professional experience and are close to retirement, close to the age of 65. My colleagues and I do not see them as old teachers, but as experienced teachers, and therefore we see them as an advantage rather than a problem. But the process is not always so smooth. Especially the different needs of the new generation and the way they communicate with older and different generations brings some problems and misunderstandings.
What are the reasons that led to these problems?
If the problem is that our teachers are young, it is because their preparation for the profession is not sufficient. If the problem is that our teachers are old, as I mentioned in the question above, we as teachers have two main concerns: physical aging and mental aging. If we experience either of these, we will not be able to meet the expectations of the school and the students and we will face problems. While physical aging is a situation that affects our teaching processes and participation in lessons, mental aging causes us not to respond appropriately to the needs of the students. For me, mental aging is the first thing that comes to my mind when it comes to the main problems related to age. Not being able to respond to the digital needs and expectations of the period and the new generation will make me feel that my work as a teacher is unqualified.
What measures have been put in place in your organisation to prevent or address these issues?
In order to overcome age-related problems, we first organise meetings with the school administration. If this problem is due to the lack of competence of our teachers, we define what can be done about it. However, we are a public school and it is not possible for us to act differently from the directives of the Ministry of National Education in this process. Nevertheless, in order to support each other, we offer quick and daily solutions to our colleagues who share a problem with us.
Are you aware of the advantages and disadvantages of these measures (in use or planned)?
Having colleagues in contact with each other makes the relationship between the school administration and teachers more transparent. The most important advantage of this transparent relationship or communication is that we try to solve small problems with our own means before they turn into bigger ones. However, sometimes this situation can also cause problems within the school. The lack of a standard for solving problems, the fact that our institution acts as if it is seeing every problem for the first time, and the lack of an institutional memory about problems and solutions cause us to intervene in similar problems with different solutions.
What are the positive effects of the measures introduced?
We have teachers with a high level of awareness about age-related problems. Knowing that age-related problems within the organisation are not only caused by young and inexperienced teachers, but also by experienced and older teachers helps us to produce qualified solutions.
How are or could these measures be monitored and evaluated?
Since we are a public school, we do not have a measurement and evaluation system that we use or have developed within our organisation.
What other measures do you think could or should be introduced to tackle this issue?
Each school could develop a problem tree of possible age-related problems. These problems can range from not being able to adapt to the curriculum to institutional communication. With such a problem tree, it may be easier to solve the problems.
Which specific activities maintaining age-related measures - whether formal or informal - have you introduced in your organisation?
Since we are a smaller department, we try to identify age-related problems through word games and trust games in group meetings.