Teachers talk allot about their value to the community but is the value of the teacher under fire in their own schools?
As many of you know I teach in Australia, so we start our school year fresh each year. This year has been one of the hardest starts to a year I have ever experienced! So far in the first five weeks of this year I have had to deal with:
- A fight where a knife was produced
- A girl discovering she pregnant…just not sure which one of the boys in the class is the father…
- Large numbers of absenteeism which has affected our teaching numbers resulting in constant timetable changes
- If that is not enough today 3 teachers finding out that their position no longer exists.
And this is all before we begin to deal with the usual challenges that all teachers face.
During this experience I have watched the politics that has surfaced when people are under pressure and their jobs are on the line and have wondered whether the executive actually value their staff, and appreciate the pressure they are under or at the end of the day it is just a numbers game. I know that the executive were once teachers, but do they remember what it was like to deal with the pressure that ‘ordinary’ teachers face every day?
Now please hear me well. I am not saying that the executive are heartless and are immune from feeling the pressure felt by the teaching staff, or that they are making these decisions lightly. But I am saying that a little empathy expressed at appropriate times would probably go a long way towards helping teachers feel like they are a person that matters, not just a number on a spreadsheet.
My experiences this year have caused me to consider the plight of beginning teachers. The average beginning teacher lasts for 5 years before moving onto another career. I wonder if one of the contributing factors to them moving on is the lack of respect; not from the students or community but by the ones who rub shoulders with them every day. It seems to me that teachers are suffering from such low morale that they longer value the role they play or the profession that they are a part of. As such we allow students to treat us with disrespect, and worse still we don’t value the contribution that the teacher is making down the hall.
It just seems to me that as teachers we have a hard time trying to demonstrate our value to the community, but maybe we need to look in our own backyard first.
What has been your experience?