This World Teachers Day, take the time to appreciate the educators in your life.
Learning to be a teacher is a tough gig. My whole university “career” I’ve been asked why I didn’t aspire to more because I’m “so smart”. The truth is, I sound smart because I’m good at explaining concepts; because of my education degree.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has been tough on every industry in different ways. Teachers have been asked to go above and beyond, sometimes putting their own health and wellbeing at risk to continue to support the students either in person or via remote learning.
What the public don’t often realise is how much work goes in to just switching lessons online and how that added workload is burning teachers candles at both ends, at an accelerated pace. When you teach four 70 minute lessons a day, and each of those lessons takes between 1-2 hours (and sometimes far more) to plan, the workload goes from unmanageable to completely unfeasible. The expectation now where I am in Queensland is that we have to plan every lesson to be able to move online with less than 24 hours’ notice.
Being in my final year of uni during a pandemic has been tough. There are so many celebrations and “lasts” that we have had to forego. No graduation ceremonies and no last uni ball.
Most of my classes have been online since March. Going into my final two teaching placements, I was honestly scared if I would be able to learn all the skills I would need to survive on my own, without students in the classroom. Prac is always a steep learning curve and with only one placement with students in person this year, it was like climbing Mt Everest.
Each day was filled with observing other teacher’s to see how they behaviour managed amongst my own classes, and then planning until 11pm each night to stay on top of my workload. Each weekend was spent planning and attempting to manage the looming deadlines of my own assessments. It leaves me worried for my wellbeing in the first few years of teaching.
Even without this added stress, it’s easy to see why most teachers leave the profession within 5 years of becoming qualified. While most of the public see people going into teaching for the “holidays”, we go into the profession for the love of seeing a child grasp a concept for the first time.
Teaching in this new world order has far more planning and admin tasks than ever before, and less time for those rewarding moments that we came into teaching for. With more and more informal life skills being added to the curriculum, teachers no longer have the luxury of time to spend with each student, these check in times often bleeding into lunchtimes and before school tutorials.
This World Teachers Day, take the time to appreciate the educators in your life. We are helping to raise Australia. Even from our beginnings as pre-service teachers, we pour our heart and soul into making education as fun and engaging as possible and being recognised for that, even in the smallest way, makes it all worth it.
Em Salmon is the Chief Youth Representation Officer at UN Youth Australia. Em is in her final year of studying a Bachelor of Secondary Education / Bachelor of Arts at the University of Queensland.