World Teacher’s Day is being celebrated in Australia on Friday 25th October. This is a day for everyone to recognise the great work that teachers do and show their appreciation for teachers everywhere.
Teaching is a tough profession. I don’t think any teacher would disagree. I always wanted to be a teacher, and my determination to enter this profession never wavered. I went straight to university and studied for four years, completing my Bachelor’s Degree in 1994.
For some years after I graduated, I didn’t actually work in primary education. Instead, I ‘fell’ into a job in an early childhood centre. I loved it. I was young, I had the energy to deal with younger children, and so I completed a post-graduate degree in Early Childhood education, with a view to continuing along this career path. But we all know things don’t often go according to plan! After 5 years in the position, my circumstances changed and I had to relocate and look for a new job.
So I applied for positions in both primary teaching and early childhood, leaving the direction of my career path at this stage to fate. I interviewed and was successful for a position, teaching year 2 in a small Catholic primary school. My first teaching position. I was 27 years old. I loved being in the classroom.
From here, I continued with primary teaching, securing consecutive 12 month contracts in various schools. During this time, I was married and had my first child, so I was only ever looking for part time positions, which definitely affected my chance of securing a permanent appointment. For the last five years that I was in the classroom, I saw the profession I loved change dramatically. For me, personally, the changes had a negative effect on my love for the profession. My stress levels increased, my administrative workload increased, and I was finding myself spending a lot of time completing tasks that I felt were not as important as the tasks I no longer had enough time for. I began to dislike my job and that was quite upsetting. Eventually, I left. Lucky for me, I was able to find an alternative job that is still in the field of education and I love it.
The drop out rate for new and existing teachers is high. And it is increasing. Researchers estimate that around 30-50% teachers leave the profession in the first five years. Plus, a growing number of veteran teachers are also leaving the profession. In South Australia, over 50% teachers are over 50. Who will replace them when they retire? If we replace 50% teachers with new teachers, who guides and mentors the new teachers? How does this pattern affect the quality of education we provide our students?
The increased drop out rate is believed to be due to the mass of disillusioned and burnt out teachers, who describe current conditions in education as ‘miserable’.
So back to World Teacher’s Day. Why is it important? Because we currently have a teaching crisis in Australia, and we need to do anything we can to make teachers feel valued and supported. This year’s focus for World Teacher’s Day is #brightfuture. How can we improve the future of the teaching profession? If you’re a parent, a colleague, a manager, a student or pretty much just anyone who knows a teacher (and we all do) – try to do something for them this World Teacher’s Day. Anything that will make them feel appreciated, valued and supported. Anything that might remind them of why they became a teacher in the first place.