Last year I did some high school teaching, which I found to be the most difficult paid work I’ve ever done. Definitely way harder than being a Senator – apart from anything else, Senators have staff to help them do what they need to do (& get paid 3 times the money of course). And there is of course also ready access to other resources – apart from anything else, when I was a Senator I didn’t need to go to Officeworks to make sure I had enough pens to do my job the next day, and I didn’t have to be worried if I was blowing the printing budget each time I clicked OK on extra copy of an exam sheet for my class.
Having said that, the teaching I’ve done was not as hard as some of the unpaid work – also known as volunteer work – that I’ve done, but I guess that’s a separate story. I should also emphasise that sometimes I found teaching to be very fulfilling and rewarding (in a non-financial sense), but there is still no doubt that to do it well, day after day – which of course is what every parent hopes/demands and our community needs – is bloody hard.
In any case, I think teaching is much harder than it needs to be because teachers are ridiculously underpaid and undervalued (despite all of the nice sounding words about how we have to invest in our children’s future, etc), and the expectations on what every teacher is meant to cover and be fully across as a matter of course verge on the ridiculous.
So even with my limited direct experience, I’m not surprised that the recent resignation statement of a Brisbane based school teacher of thirty+ years standing has got so much attention. Although this statement is from a primary school teacher, I think many aspects of it are also relevant for high school.
Perhaps in part because I have a Social Work degree alongside my teaching qualification, I have been surprised/apprehensive/astonished about all the things which all teachers are technically meant to be across as a matter of course. I understand why these expectations have arisen, but if they have reached a level which is frankly unrealistic to expect all teachers to be able to deliver, then we have a problem for students (and for teachers as well, but the students have to be the priority).
Having said all that, I will try to do some more paid teaching work in the future (assuming I haven’t ruined my chances by writing/posting these words).