I’ve said it countless times over the years. “Teaching is without doubt the most difficult profession there is.” And I truly believe that.
Whilst saying this I take nothing away from any other profession. They all have their challenges and their constraints. They have their “I simply do not want to get out of bed and go to work this morning” moments. Just like teaching.
What stands out with teaching is the amount of variables that are within the teaching profession. These are endless. The added complexity of what is to be done day in day out is extremely large and it is these variables and complexities that catch a lot of teachers out, no matter how many years experience. No university degree and or course can prepare you for the barrage of what lies ahead. Maybe a ‘crisis management’ course perhaps…
It is also the nature of what occurs daily and more so unexpectedly that catches people out. Just when things are all smooth and differences are being made, something, quite often a few things, rear their head and cause even the best laid plans to descend in to chaos.
Having completed a Bastow course last year that focused on principalship, those of us in attendance were given a task which I have outlined below which resonates with what I have mentioned above. A task designed to highlight that as educational leaders (or anyone really who works in a school) we can face a myriad of things that we do not expect, are not prepared for, are certainly not trained for, and things that none the less we need to deal with. Have a look at the task which I have linked and modified. It is based on a Principal role however paints a picture of what I am talking about… EduLead Scenario
There are many fallacies about teaching and what the job entails. Many. Teachers do not in fact work from 9am to 3:30pm and fluff about in between. We also do more than just simply ‘babysit’ other peoples kids and then get “rewarded” with holidays after 10 weeks at it. A small truth be told that after a 2 hour literacy block in the morning and when the bell goes for recess, that yes, you have to don the hi-vis vest, grab the bum bag full of band aids, tissues, and jellybeans for the diabetic students, and ‘actively supervise’ the yard for period of time to ensure that all students are ‘doing the right thing’… Afterwards of which you down a scalding coffee and a bite to eat (usually something packaged as there’s no time for creating Masterchef worthy snacks), collecting what you attempted to print earlier, if you can locate it, get your next learning intentions and success criteria written up and then… the bell goes and in come the students. If you’re super organised, you’ll squeeze in a trip to the toilet. 😉
What has prompted this post was a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled “Our country needs good teachers. I am not going to be one of them.”
I credit, strongly, the person who wrote this article for the fact that they came to realise that teaching was not for them and they opted out. They identified that teaching is much more than what they expected, made the call, and left the profession. Teachers who are not effective at what they do, for whatever reason, have a highly negative impact on students and their learning. We know this from research and evidence that has come from it. To know and realise that a change needs to be made is one thing, acting upon it is another.
I am quite pleased to say that the vast majority of teachers I know and work alongside are hard working, passionate, driven and dedicated. They put in the extra hours of unpaid work each and everyday because they care, not because they have to. These efforts are evident in their classrooms, in their practice and in the way their students learn, grow and succeed. What gets me up and about even more is that these teachers constantly are striving to do better. Better to improve their practices, improve the outcomes for their students, and make the places in which they work more effective.
Teaching is a bloody hard job. It can test every part of your being and make you question what you stand for. There have been, as per the article, and will be many more, teachers who come and go as the realisation that teaching is not for them. And that is ok.
I will also take this opportunity to encourage anyone out there thinking of being a teacher to seriously consider it. It is highly enjoyable, collegiate, and unlike anything you may have experienced. As a teacher you are given the chance to have a very strong impact on not only the students you teach but the running of a school and from this seeing something really special take shape. Being able to encourage change within an organisation by bringing in fresh and new ideas, a new and enthusiastic approach to the profession and lead programs that you are passionate about is exciting and rewarding.
Our country does need good teachers, and it has good teachers, and it needs even more good teachers.