Someone reached out to me asking my advice on whether they should switch from doing relief teaching to classroom teaching. As much as I wanted to shout “Of course you should!”, I couldn’t. Although having your own classroom is the ultimate dream for anyone studying Education I have encountered far too many reasons that convince me that supply teaching is the way for me.
Just this past week alone I have encountered-
- An experienced teacher going part-time as her only option of coping with the work/life balance after being transferred from her school of 10 years.
- Another experienced teacher, transferred an hour away from home, who has resigned from the coveted ‘permanent position’ to do relief as he felt the travel time added to his day bought his pay down to minimum wage and felt it wasn’t worth it.
- A teacher that reluctantly took back her resignation as she was talked into sticking out the whole year.
- A new graduate quit her class at a Catholic School after one semester and opting to do supply teaching instead.
- Numerous teachers quizzing me about how much work I get, the pay and how they are thinking of quitting to do Supply Teaching.
So you have to ask yourself, why are so many teaching running from what should be such a rewarding and fulfilling career? So many passionate people walking away from doing the one thing they really love.
I put it down to a few things.
There is a severe lack of support for new graduate teachers. They are often lumped with the students nobody wanted. There is a “sink or swim” mentality put on these teachers. Unfortunately, these factors can ruin a potentially fabulous teacher as they are put into an even more stressful and overwhelming situation than it already is. Classes aren’t always so horrible, but those experiences can be enough to scar a new teacher for good. There is also little support. They may be appointed a mentor but the mentor is often too swamped themselves to help as much as they need. New teachers often feel like they aren’t ready when they graduate and don’t have enough experience to do it alone. If they survive the year it is usually with their heads barely above water and with a lot of sacrifice. It shouldn’t be that hard.
Another obvious gripe is the unnecessary paperwork and testing. This can be extremely time consuming and stressful to teachers and often a waste of time. Teachers are made to gather “data” for the bosses to show off to others which serves no purpose or benefit for the teachers or students. Just let the teachers teach, that’s what they love to do.
Teachers also feel like they don’t receive the respect they deserve, particularly from parents. Parents no longer support teachers but question their motives and actions. Your son hasn’t got an award yet? Perhaps he isn’t as perfect as you think he is? Or perhaps he just needs to learn patience as there has to be someone to receive theirs last. We need to teach our children resilience. We need to not fight all their battles or email the teacher 6 times a day about a trivial issue. The second the child knows that you are against the teacher or undermine them in any way, you are making it harder for the teacher to gain respect as the authoritarian in the class, making their job harder than it already is. Cut teachers some slack and respect their professional judgement. They are the “professionals” here after all.
Teacher’s aren’t complaining about wanting higher wages, although they most certainly deserve them. They aren’t whinging about the hundreds to thousands of dollars they spend each year on resources for the children’s benefit, which is unheard of in any other profession. Nor are they up in arms about the ridiculous hours they put in outside of the 9-3 everyone perceives that they work, no such perk as overtime rates here. All teachers want is more support in the classroom for the students that need it. A helpful mentor when we first start out. Parents that don’t undermine us and support our professional decisions. Administration to remember what it was like in the classroom and that don’t delegate more paperwork for the sake of paperwork.
It upsets me hearing that so many teachers aren’t happy and wanting to leave the profession. Until teachers are given the support and respect they deserve they will keep leaving (or at least keep putting my job in jeopardy with more competition in the supply pool!!!)
Let’s value one of the few professions that really make a difference in this world and make this a job worth fighting for!