I am in a unique position to observe, work alongside and get to know many teachers. I see them at work and in their ‘breaks’. I see them at the end of the week or near the end of the term and wonder how they pick themselves up and deliver to the students day after day, without going into melt-down. I have the utmost respect for them.
Sometimes, the public and the media do not see them in quite the same way. They see them protesting about conditions and salary but they do not see the effort so many teachers put in for their children. We hear about ‘bad or underperforming teachers’ and outcome the performance pay and other sticks with which to beat down or pay teachers less.
I wish that the public could see what I see. I wish that they could see the new pressures teachers are facing. If it is not some ‘new’ programme or reporting system, appraisal, or registration procedures, then it is the increasingly deficit driven behaviours that the students bring with them into our schools.
The teacher then takes on the role of councillor (in spite of being told that this is not their job) or social worker and often the role of surrogate parent. Teachers are in our schools to teach but the nature of society and the lack of preparedness so many students have when they arrive in our schools means that the primary focus of a teacher is blended in to multiple roles.
As a young teacher I knew that I needed to spend time in preparation and marking after school, but over the years many new responsibilities have been added, necessitating numerous after school meetings and ‘call in’ times in the holidays. Only after these demands on teacher times have been satisfied, can the teacher get on and take time to prepare and deliver.
I take my hat off to teachers and wonder how many young ones are going to see that things are not quite what they were led to believe during their training. For a while their youthful zeal and commitment will carry them--- then they will see that there are other opportunities out there that will entice them away.
Take time to get to know your children’s’ teachers and know that they are under increasing pressure--- and don’t be surprised if you see a new face at the parents’ meeting.
Value our incredible teachers.