The Overwhelming Responsibilies of the Modern Teacher

I just read a brilliant piece by teacher Daniel Cohen.

Whilst I differ from the author of this article in one key area, I believe the article presents a most accurate account of the day-to-day challenges that face working teachers. I don’t agree with the premise that for all the hard work we put in, we receive little in return. Yes, we are underpayed. But what we do get back from our students can not be easily quantified.

Even still, his assessment on the daily rigours and insane paperwork and planning requirements is captured brilliantly in the article.

I BECAME a teacher to help children learn.

I’m now working with at-risk children who do not cope in a mainstream setting.

They have emotional and behavioural issues affecting their ability to perform and succeed within school.

They, like all students, need a strong teaching profession.

I see the role of teachers as both educating students and preparing them for society as adults.

A lot of the focus is on literacy and numeracy.

As a teacher, I believe there are a lot more skills that students need than just reading and writing.

It’s my role to help them develop into adults.

Teaching is the closest thing you can get to being a parent without having children.

Like parents, teachers form relationships with children that are central to a child’s learning and development.

We help them sort out personal problems and friendship issues.

We help with knowledge in an academic sense. But we also help them learn to interact and deal with people and how to get along.

They can’t learn subject content if they can’t work with others.

And they can’t learn to work with other people in isolation. That’s part of a teacher’s role as well as a parent’s.

Day to day, students attend classes between 9am and 3.30pm.

When the students are at school, the teacher’s whole focus is on working with them.

Preparing lessons, correcting work, organising meetings and other duties associated with being part of a workplace all happen outside of class time.

A teacher’s legal and professional responsibility to students does not end when students aren’t around.

A lot of that happens during a teacher’s personal time.

Our tasks – attending staff meetings outside of class, correcting and checking work and so on – cannot be properly completed within normal, paid allocated time.

Because teachers are in a workplace, we have Occupational Health and Safety obligations to fulfil, such as ensuring that the school is safe and correct procedures are followed in classroom safety.

We are required to provide supervision and ensure that the classroom is a safe environment.

Also, we must formally report on any issues involving child welfare.

These are just some of the very serious responsibilities all teachers assume.

Watching students is difficult.

When you have 27 students, ensuring they are all safe and within sight at all times can be quite time-consuming.

The pay situation as it is now makes me feel really undervalued by my employer – the State Government. I’m disappointed and upset that our pay negotiations have not been progressing.

The work we do is essential.

To have the Government stall undervalues our work and undervalues the education that children deserve.

Failing to pay us properly means we’re not given the resources or time we need to do the best for our students – Victoria’s children.

We’re using our own time to do more for the students because we think it’s important. Teachers want what’s best for students.

Without proper pay, my worry is that the profession will suffer and good teachers will leave.

Those who stay may suffer ill-health because they are not given enough time to properly do the job.

We already have a shortage of teachers.

Without proper pay, we will struggle to keep the ones we have or to recruit new ones.

Teachers put in the extra time because they’re doing what’s best for their students.

But without support from their employer, it is increasingly difficult for teachers to keep on doing that important work.

The Government wants more productivity.

That will be achieved by giving teachers the resources they need and by supporting the profession.


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