Saturday, 3 June 2017

Teachers - Let Them Teach

I have been giving the teaching profession quite some thought.

In my line of work, we come in to contact with many teachers of 25 years or more experience.

Their stories are remarkably similar and equally concerning.

First and foremost, all are obviously dedicated and committed to teaching. Many love what they do and are very proud of their careers, their achievements but more so the achievements of their students.

However, the reason they are meeting with us is because they are wanting to give it away. Actually, that is not strictly correct, they feel they cannot continue.

Our experienced educators repeatedly reference the stress of the job, but not the stress of the students. The also reference the out of hours demands, but don’t complain about that, accepting it as part of what they do.

The stress they reference is a combination of the increased out of class room demands and poor management decisions that do not have the best interests of good teaching and the students in mind. The second issue they mention is the demands of Parents who are so certain their child is the next Elon Musk, Gary Ablett or Leader of the Country that any result in the class room not reflecting this represents a monumental fail by the teacher.

They talk about the meaninglessness of the reporting system and how it is so bland, deficiencies that could be corrected with some extra work, parental support and attention are not identified, to the detriment of the Child.

They are frustrated, worn out, cynical, but proud all at the same time.

I have long been a critic of a school system that does not support the very best teachers staying in the class room. Promotion opportunities are (understandably) pursued by the best teachers as they seek increased pay. The quandary is, the best teachers achieve promotion which takes them away from the teaching, which is what we want them to be doing.

I would like to see a system where the teacher is clearly recognised as the most important person in the education system. Further, I would to see the very best teachers being the highest paid in the education system.  

I would like a system where the teacher is allowed to teach and are supported by others to deal with supportive administration functions. Why are our best Maths teachers correcting Maths tests? Why are they preparing administration reports and statistical information when what they do best is teach?

I would like to see teachers having access to ongoing education, professional development programmes and paid leave to further their own studies.

After our parents, there is no greater influence during our development years than those that teach us. We should be valuing teachers for what they do and providing an environment that encourages experienced teachers to stay in the system and mentor developing teachers.

We should be paying them at a level that reflects the importance of the influence they have on the next generation and the one after that.

And, we should be ensuring they are not leaving the education system for fear of drowning in bureaucracy.

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