I used to be a teacher.
So did Gabbie Stroud.
Gabbie wrote a book called ‘Teacher’ and in it she told of her love of teaching and her love of the children she taught but how she had to leave her beloved career because of the stresses and strains caused by demands on her time and energy, initiated by political decisions that have little bearing on actual teaching of - and relating to - little children.
Oh, how I agreed!
Being a teacher is an exhausting, but oh, so rewarding occupation.
Sure, there are troublesome kids who take up a lot of your time and energy but, when you dig deep, those kids are often troubled kids trying to cope with family dysfunction and many other difficulties little children should not have to bear. You mainly have to give them your time and love them.
Sure teaching small children can be messy: There’s the odd overflow sneeze, a vomit on a teacher’s shoe (or worse), a small puddle of urine left on a child-sized chair, cuts and grazes you have to repair, while also consoling a weeping child.
Sure, kids can be needy: there’s a kid you have to (surreptitiously) buy a pair of shoes for or a child for whom you have to make lunch – or share yours. So many other ‘chores’ apart from the actual JOB of teaching.
It’s a long time since I retired from teaching but I was almost at the same point as Gabbie found herself when I did.
WHY, oh WHY is teaching a topic that produces ‘know-all’ politicians and bureaucrats who think they have all the answers? (Answers to non-existent questions, usually!)
And who think it’s time for education change and assessment?
All the testing and assessing in the world won’t help children learn. It may even hamper the best learning. It certainly has the ability to make kids dislike school!
Yes, sure, I know that there are teachers out there who enjoy the testing and the annotating of ‘results’. I know because I have seen them and heard them.
I was instructed to attend a refresher workshop when I returned briefly to be a relief teacher. I was one of quite a few older part-time teachers in attendance. I estimated that, between us, we must have successfully taught thousands of little kids. During the seminar, we were lectured by two very young ‘advisors’ who referred to their (albeit brief) time as teachers as when they had been ‘classroom practitioners’. FFS!
When did teachers turn into facilitators called ‘classroom practitioners’?
Please can we go back to the days where dedicated teachers all loved their jobs, loved the children in their care and did not have to spend valuable hours and days on marking, assessing, recording and TESTING the kids? There is SO much to enjoy when you are a teacher. It can be bloody hard work and you often feel totally drained at the end of the day, but it can also deliver wonderful feelings of happy achievement, especially when you have a room full of happy accomplished children sharing your day.
How about we get rid of those stupid (and impersonal) ‘interactive white-boards’ (activated from teacher’s laptop!) and return to lots of teacher/children face-to-face interaction. No need to return all the way back to blackboards (although I have to say, I think that would be GREAT!)
Get rid of iPads for small children and give them paper, books, crayons, and counting blocks. (Eek! Shock, horror).
Sing a lot!
Play learning games in the classrooms, read hundreds of books and have fun.
Keep singing and having fun as learning progresses. When Year Three is reached, don’t worry about teaching to a TEST that is supposedly necessary for (good!) NAPLAN results.
WHY does the world have to know the students’ ratings and a school’s rating? Does it really achieve anything apart from stressing out both teachers and students?
I know there are still many, many happy and dedicated teachers willingly working hard every day but I still weep for today’s schools and the unrealistic demands placed on them.
I weep for the teachers and children.
Everyone should read Gabbie Stroud’s* book.
Especially those who denigrate the work teachers do!
* ‘Teacher, One Woman’s struggle to keep the heart in teaching’, Gabbie Stroud,
(Allen & Unwin)