Over the weekend I’ve unwittingly become one of the teachers Labour desperately needs to make up the 2000 extra they’ve promised.
I work in Brunei, make decent coin, can save, and can travel cheaply. I’ve got 15 years experience, post-grad quals, and have worked in a range of unique schools from Kuwait to Laos to Kazakhstan as well as many years in NZ.
Frankly, there’s not a snowballs chance in hell I’d ever return to full time teaching in NZ. Schools have become an unwilling conduit for solving all of society’s ills. Teachers are expected to be social workers, counsellors, and doctors on a daily, week in week out basis with zero respite for staff simply wanting to plan, teach, assess, evaluate, plan…
I left NZ disillusioned with the profession as it stood. The bulk of my time was taken up with behaviour management. All the professional development I undertook (usually at my expense) was rendered useless by the sheer volume of time taken up having to manage the behaviour of wayward kids.
Sure, a steady hand on the tiller is needed and some behavioural issues crop up regardless but what NZ teachers have to deal with on a daily basis would shock parents to the core if they knew just how much teaching time is lost.
And so DC wants me back. He wants me to give up enthusiastic, motivated kids, release time daily for planning, fulltime teacher assistant support, high salary, helpful humble parents, paid professional development, and global career prospects.
He wants me to return to a damp fibrolite prefab unit, with problem kids taking all my time, the gut wrenching ache of knowing you’re not doing the bright kids justice because all the ‘extra’ funding and support is going on the never-diminishing bottom end, a ridiculously taxed salary, colleagues protected from consequences for their incompetence by unions and their school management acolytes, and having to fundraise for the basics.
On top of that is the fact I’ll get shot to pieces by middle-aged women, with their missionary mentailty, who’ve never worked outside the school fence if I dare to suggest we pull up parents who’re not taking responsibility for raising their kids seriously. I’ll co-ordinate meetings with numerous community agencies only to have parents not bother to turn up, and quite possibly be asked to supervise school breakfasts for those kids with incompetent parents.
Frankly, DC is dreaming. His union paymasters are simply wanting to continue more of the same mediocrity. They want this continued mediocrity so they can continue to demand more money, more resources, more teachers, more union members, and big socialist government.
This policy is vile, it’s abusive, and it fails to address the basics. Hold parents to much tighter account for the support and input they provide their kids, reward and spread the skills and knowledge of good teachers, demand teacher accountability, cull the teaching deadwood, and most of all never let up on high expectations of all in the sector.
Until then, myself and the 2/3 of my graduating class who either left NZ or the profession within 5 years of graduating simply won’t even look at an offer.
It’s no better in the UK. A close friend of mine, a teacher for over 30 years in a middle-class, semi-rural area, had a nervous breakdown, not because of the children but because he couldn’t actually get on with teaching because of the mountain of paperwork he was forced to administer by a bureaucratic culture. As far as he was concerned teaching was a profession going backwards.
Talking of going backwards, I’m told the ‘new’ classrooms planned for Te Huruhi are to be open plan, a throw back to the failed experiment of the 1970s.
Until there is a thirst for excellence from parents and teachers children will continue being mired in mediocracy. It’s good teaching that makes a difference in the lives of students certainly not classroom size.