Ask what you can do for education…
I have recently had doubts over my self worth. I believe that (almost) all teachers are genuinely interested in helping others and wanting the best for the young people in there care. It might not always be the same ‘best’ that I have, but you know, people give a damn. The job is just to hard otherwise. And some days, my best is pretty average too – we all have those days. But it makes my life so much happier knowing that most teachers are giving it their genuine best shot.
The other thing I know is that I love love love LOVE my job. I really do. I fight for it as much as I can, even when I know it is a loosing battle. I rant and storm and plot and think and tear my hair about what can I actually do to make education better.
Because I love my job, I really don’t get why other people don’t. I also don’t get why these articles keep appearing; Shortage of Teaching staff Looms; Schools nearing crisis due to Auckland teacher crisis; Aucklands teacher shortage spreading nation wide. Although I can kind of get why people don’t want to live in Auckland – I seriously considered applying for a couple of jobs there, but then the cost of living seriously put me off. That and my Mr nearly 4 would have to spend 2 hours a day either in traffic or in extra daycare hours. No thanks.
But at this point, there are over 1300 vacancies on the ed gazette web page.
458 of those are in secondary schools, and of those, 102 have since in the job description (remembering that some might be social science.)
and 106 are for middle management.
So then my self doubt swings to inflated self worth perhaps. Science teachers, and in fact all teachers in general, are in demand. I have been very flattered by lovely emails asking me to consider apply for jobs. There is significant demand, and school ‘leaders’ are crying out for good candidates for jobs. Frantic facebook and twitters post saying anyone interested in this job. As a Chemistry teacher who is not completely rubbish at her job for a significant portion of it I am an in demand commodity.
Except I am not.
I am still just a teacher.
I have a time release for elearning stuff, but no MU and no official job description. I am one of probably thousands of teachers in NZ and round the world who does more than they need to because they give a damn.
I have actively decided against a middle management roll for the time being as it seems to simply incompatible with having a young family. Which definitely needs to change, right now I feel a lot of talent and skill is being wasted or under utilised due to the additional demands placed on families. I really value my time with Mr nearly 4. Even without a middle management job, I still find myself away from home for camps, sports trips, conferences, PT interviews, prizegivings, meetings etc. After school today he came with me to the girls cricket match (bribed with Lolly pops) instead of coming home and hanging out after daycare. I posted earlier in the year around my despair of so many awesome teachers leaving for ‘sunnier’ shores. Of my Tcol cohort, I reckon maybe a third are still teaching 7 years in.
Today I had to remind myself of why I got into this job. Why I left a Science research lab to go teaching. It is because I LOVE teaching. I am passionate about everyone having the opportunity to learn. I really value promoting strong woman in the work place and showing girls they can have a family and work too (even if my life is a train wreck of domestic disaster stories…..). While I support breaking down subject silos, I value having subject specialists with their enthusiasm, passion and knowledge.
And so today when I got heart breakingly cross again and through that schools really are nothing more than machines to churn out the most possible with the least possible resourcing and they don’t actually give a damn about who works in them and why was I remaining part of this horrid machine, I needed to remember.
I LOVE this job. I have so much fun, I learn so much, I am never bored, I get paid to watch cricket and set stuff on fire (don’t get me started on our new lab protocols and safety managements stuff – sigh) and work with amazing people and talk shop at parties and love it.
So I still ask what can I do for my school, and for my learners?
But I am increasingly worried that there are less and less people asking this. How will those gaps be filled, and who will help support those young people so that everyone has an equal opportunity to learn? Where are these teachers going to come from? And once they get there, how do we stop them leaving?
3 thoughts on “Ask not what education can do for you…”
Well I have not left the profession, just the country….but thanks for that post Rach. Every day I am racked with self doubt. I want to my best, but I find my self comparing myself to others. A weakness. I am also bloody stubborn and like a fight. So never give up in what I think is right. I never really feel I am good enough and can always do better but time constraints with admin and meetings drag me down, but yep I am stubborn so carry on. So don’t worry Rach those feelings of self worth are natural, but we are in it to develop the future and also I need people to actually listen to my jokes and students are a captive audience. Just need to work on one starfish at a time.
Love your ways Michael. And your jokes. It is hard to know where to draw the line. What matters so much you can’t ignore it? What can I ignore because the end game is worth it? Keep calm and carry on I guess – but I really feel the need to ‘speak’ for those that can’t always speak for themselves. Compounded by not quite being sure what I want to say 🙂 Keep swimming
ok only been teaching three years but at the end of the day (here come the cliches) it is the teacher not the subject we remember. As teachers I think the most important thing is to keep the curiosity going to keep the fire burning for learning and challenging ideas. Assessment is a hoop we jump. We develop and nurture people not just a number on a piece of paper. Success comes in many forms not just a narrow definition of a pass or fail. We develop future fathers, mothers and citizens not just supply new job seekers. Being human is more than that. I tend to forget this during exam season. Developing compassionate, engaged people is our role.