Essay Teacher Year

Essay Teacher Year-69
There was pain in my chest, my heart clenching and screaming . I was burnt out because successive Australian governments – both left and right – have locked Australian education into the original model of schooling first established during the industrial revolution. If I was successful in my job, that’s what would happen. Every primary teacher, regardless of their location, has a roll similar to mine. It was Grade 6 (twelve-year-olds) and they were preparing for their SATs: standardised tests that determine which high school they can attend. My fire has turned to ash, burnt out from relentlessly keeping account when I should have been teaching, reporting when I should have been listening, making standard when I should have been making a difference. My class roll wasn’t disproportionate in the number of students with particular needs. SIXTEEN YEARS AGO, I took my first teaching position in London.

There was pain in my chest, my heart clenching and screaming . I was burnt out because successive Australian governments – both left and right – have locked Australian education into the original model of schooling first established during the industrial revolution. If I was successful in my job, that’s what would happen. Every primary teacher, regardless of their location, has a roll similar to mine. It was Grade 6 (twelve-year-olds) and they were preparing for their SATs: standardised tests that determine which high school they can attend. My fire has turned to ash, burnt out from relentlessly keeping account when I should have been teaching, reporting when I should have been listening, making standard when I should have been making a difference. My class roll wasn’t disproportionate in the number of students with particular needs. SIXTEEN YEARS AGO, I took my first teaching position in London.

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Good teaching comes from professionals who are valued.

It comes from teachers who know their students, who build relationships, who meet learners at their point of need and who recognise that there’s nothing standard about the journey of learning.

And as I push the vacuum cleaner around the room, listening to grains of sand rattle through the tube, the dangerous ‘what-ifs’ pervade my thoughts.

What if we encouraged quality long-term professional development for our teachers with monetary remuneration?

I’ve not yet met Saran’s dad, but Saran proudly tells me he is very very busy at their restaurant. He should have started kindergarten (prep) last year. She does Irish dancing lessons and demonstrates an elaborate jig for all the students who are waiting at the bus lines. I’ve had a meeting with someone from Family and Community Services every day this week. Davey vomited his cake straight into his school bag. All day I had been trying to complete the end-of-year assessments for my last six students; a task that requires a minimum half-hour one-on-one with each. Pressure to meet the standards, regardless of the needs of individual students, means that the little details must fall away. I have had to dull my once-engaging lesson sequences. Brightly coloured spontaneity fortified with professional judgment has been replaced with black-and-white standardisation and a judicious critique of every child’s work. I feel guilty and I hate the way my students look at me: expecting praise, getting none.

Her mum came to see me yesterday – Trudy’s folks are separating. No wonder she is such an angry little five-year-old. His father, Dave Snr., just laughed when I told him and scruffed Davey on the head. won’t talk about Davey’s aggression, tells me they don’t have a problem with it at home. He likes holding up the extra half finger to show me. But that morning the principal had been in to film our literacy block for the school’s participation in the Collaboration on Student Achievement (Co SA) project. Now I must begin by planning the assessment, consider how students will show what they’ve learnt and pre-determine what they are going to learn. Classrooms have become test-driven places where students learn to colour circles marked A, B, C and D. Their eyes pierce mine: I become no more than the slippery, laminated sheet encasing the testing regime.

In my last months as a teacher, I had become scared.

I was scared of teaching outside the prescribed model because it may not fit the current trend.

Watching children learn is a beautiful and extraordinary experience. Teachers and principals face continual pressure to make schools ‘like something else’. Yet in Australia today this incredible and important profession is being reduced to the sum of its parts.

Each decision made keeps us stuck in an archaic learn-to-work model, now complete with ongoing mandatory assessment of our student’s likely productivity and economic potential. The names might vary, the ages and issues too, but ultimately every class roll is a story, if someone would just care to listen. There’s something sinister happening to this profession that I loved. I was instructed not to teach art or PE, only what was on the test until the exams were over and then I could teach ‘whatever I wanted’. Doggedly pursuing a ‘world-class’ education program by following in the footsteps of big brothers Europe, the US and Asia.

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