Teaching truths

THE GOOD. THE BAD. THE UGLY.

Attained: Bachelor of Education. Graduate Certificate in Literacy Intervention.

Unaware teaching would require: a minor in nutrition, psychology, medicine, exercise science, parenting, mediation, conflict resolution, acting, dance, stand up comedy, coding, technology, counselling and the list goes on….

With recent statistics detailing that over half of Australia’s teachers are suffering from anxiety and one fifth are depressed, I felt it was necessary to shed light on the profession.

My day begins the night before, where I am creating a list in my head of items that need to be completed before the children arrive. Change the visual schedule, photocopy handouts, find that website link, meet with that parent, email that mum. I revise this list on the drive to school the next morning, usually adding 3 more items to it. Once I arrive I ignite the pilot light of my heater, praying it will turn on, say good morning to at least 15 people, then make myself a cup of tea after shoving my food into the overflowing fridge. I take the stairs by twos, aware not to waste any precious time. I set my tea down and open my laptop. I get interrupted by someone, we discuss something, it tangents into something else. I run to grab a resource, taking time to select the right one for the personalized learning I cater for within my classroom. By the time I return, my tea is lukewarm and undrinkable. So it joins the other mugs on my desk, awaiting shipment to the dishwasher. A parent has called an impromptu meeting. I take notes and later, in my own time, type these as minutes. I race to the photocopier, send the handouts through and am left with a paper jam. Desperately trying to sort that out, the bell booms and off to class I go. This is all before the official day of learning has begun.

The children sashay in, excited about the day ahead. I take the roll, settle an argument, greet the parents and instruct the children to get ready for prayer. The day unfolds, with a double yard duty and an after school meeting. Instructions from parents to find a lost hat, and make sure their child eats all their lunch. Yard duty is cold and provides me with a special 25 minutes of being able to practice my counselling skills with children I don’t know. Before I leave, I set up for the following day. Switch off the lights and head home to write reports about the 20 children I spend 6 hours a day with, 5 days a week.

This is the reality of what is deemed a glamourized job by the community – the holidays, the fun you have with the kids. Yes, these things do occur, but so does immense planning and reviewing of curriculum related learning, parent meetings to inform of student progress (in addition to parent teacher interviews), emails I must respond to which can be sent by a parent at any hour, reports twice a year which take up weekends, evenings and countless hours of thought and so much more.

The demands on teachers are endless. And the list is only getting longer. We as teachers are unqualified for many of the issues we face. We are not psychologists, nor are we all parents. We don’t have all the answers, but we do our best to support the children and families we teach. Teaching is something I am very passionate about. I care a lot about the students I teach, the people I work with and the families in my care. But lately, teaching requires more give and less take. More support of others and less support of teachers. More energy and less time. I’ve seen the profession change in the mere 9 years I’ve been an educator. From my graduate year, when parents were just beginning to send emails, to my 9th, where I’d thought I’d seen it all. I still haven’t. But the constant pressure of the profession that hangs over the heads of all teachers is something that is driving many to leave.

This is not the statistic I want to be. Alas, I am. And so are many teacher friends I know and love.

b. xx

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