I have chosen to become a teacher. I love learning and I love helping students to learn. However, I am watching good teachers leave, stress and burnout. Why? It is because the policy makers seem to think that education solves everything. As teachers are in the business of educating people it seems that, everything is now our problem. Too much is placed on teachers shoulders. Health, drugs, wellbeing, family support, community development, sustainability, data, learning and the list goes on. Just add it to education.
I agree that education is part of the solution. Part of. Where is your accountability? If you want healthy kids, provide funding to allow schools to hire health experts. Experts who have the time to teach our students properly. If you want the best medical care in schools, make it compulsory for all schools to have a nurse and doctor available. If you want people to follow the laws of society, get police officers back in schools to remind them. You want kids to be safe on the roads, bring back road safety programs. You want kids to save the environment and invent things for the future then stop crowding the curriculum.
The government has added so many expectations onto schools and teachers. When would you like me to teach? To teach students how to read, write and be numerate. After all, there are only so many school hours in the day.
Then, when my job is done, you want more from me? You want me to build my professional knowledge, attend meetings, contact parents, answer emails, communicate with external professionals and plan high standard curriculum on the days that I am not attending meetings three days a week. Then you want me to be healthy, stress free and never get sick?
Then when I have nothing left to give, you want me to help children get outstanding tests scores in an outdated and one off test every two years. Just to justify that I am doing my job. You want me to prove growth with so much data that I am swimming in it. Do all this in my own time.
Something needs to change in education. We need to look after and support our teachers to be free to do their job. To teach. Instead of looking for ways to shift blame, make education a priority. Pay teachers what they deserve. People in different industries who give nothing back to society get paid triple what I do. And I am helping to build our future. What could be more important? Teachers by nature serve others and put themselves second. Shouldn’t service industries be rewarded and celebrated? Shouldn’t they be given all available support and resources? Shouldn’t teachers be respected and honoured? I hear a lot about parent rights in schools. What about teacher rights? Where is our protection from the intense scrutiny? Why do we constantly need to justify what we are trained to do?
Please prime minister I beg you, start restoring support, respect and priority to our education system. You want a future, then nurture and support it. Or our country will end up with no teachers and a wave of poorly educated children running it. It is time to make a change.